By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire May 18, 2010 at 3:49AM
Each day at the Cannes Film Festival (May 12 - 23), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from France. All times listed are local French time.
Catching up with Cannes: DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6
More: Latest Reviews | Guide & Grades | Complete Coverage
Blogs: Anne Thompson | Todd McCarthy | Sydney Levine | Eric Kohn | Eugene Hernandez
1:43 AM: Buzz - SPC Goes for Mike Leigh -- Word on the Cannes Film Festival party circuit is that Sony Pictures Classics has acquired Mike Leigh's "Another Year," which debuted in competition here over the weekend. More soon.
10:34 PM: Liman at AmPav -- Doug Liman, director of “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity," spoke at the American Pavilion today about his new film “Fair Game.” In reference to being the only American with a film in competition in Cannes, Liman responded that he was “surprised the film is entered in a festival.”
“Fair Game” is about the real-life story of Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) who is “outed” as being a CIA agent purportedly because her husband Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn) writes a piece in the New York Times claiming the Bush administration bent facts in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.
When asked why he chose the project, Liman said, “The script [by Jez and John Butterworth] was amazing regardless of whether or not it was a true story. It was kind of a bonus that it was true.”
Liman is no stranger to this type of political maneuvering, as his father was Arthur L Liman, who served as a crucial component in the Iran-Contra Senate hearings. “It made a huge impact on me because it was my first exposure to real spies,” Liman said. “In a way, 'Fair Game' is an investigation and a report... I do feel the pressure to not sully my father's name.” [Carter Glascock]
9:15 PM: Rounding Up News From the Marche - Lots of smaller news items and slate announcements from the seventh day of the Marche du Cannes have made the rounds on indieWIRE's iW NOW blog. A quick summary: Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s seminal “On the Road” has been picked up in Cannes for UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australian rights by Icon Film Distribution; Rogue announced the acquisition of the sci-fi thriller “Skyline,” from Greg and Colin Strause; The International Emerging Film Talent Association and the Ethiopian Film Initiative have joined forces to bring a group of young filmmakers from Ethiopia to Cannes for the first time; Lionsgate has witnessed significant interest for a last minute edition to its Cannes Market slate, an untitled adaptation of Buddy Giovinazzo’s crime thriller, “Potsdamer Platz,” helmed by Tony Scott and starring Mickey Rourke; and family and Faith-based entertainment focused Mission Pictures International announced the acquisition of four titles for international sales and distribution: “Letters to God,” “To Save a Life,” “The Way Home,” and “The Mighty Macs." [Peter Knegt]
6:45 PM: criticWIRE @ Cannes: "Biutiful" The Second Most Divisive Film in criticWIRE History - A considerable update has been made to criticWIRE's first foray into the Cannes Film Festival. Sixteen critics have offered hundreds of grades for dozens of films, and our Cannes Guide has been updated to reflect it - with averages for all the films that have received grades. No film in competition has an "A" level grade (Mike Leigh's "Another Year" had been at that level until today, when a few naysayers bumped it down to a "B"), and their grades in general suggest a wildly divisive batch of films. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful," for example, has become the second most divisive film in criticWIRE's nearly year-old history ("Trash Humpers" is the only film that beats it), averaging a "C+" from grades that range from an "A+" to an "F". More here. [Peter Knegt]
6:35 PM: Kohn on "Drewe," "Certified" - indieWIRE critic Eric Kohn takes on both Stephen Frears' "Tamara Drewe" and Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy" in recently posted reviews. With "Drewe," Kohn says Frears "manages to improve on the source material by putting its dark satiric edge in the spotlight," while he says of "Certified": "Possibly the Iranian director’s most accessible work, this elegant, stream-of-conciousness movie takes place almost entirely within the constraints of a single two-person conversation." Check out the "Drewe" review here and Kohn's take on "The Certified Copy" here.
5:04 PM: Marketing Mavens -- Today in the American Pavilion, Sharon Swart moderated "Marketing in the Film World" with panelists Christian Gaines (IMDb), Brooks Addicott (Sundance Institute), Ryan Werner (IFC), Mark Pogachefsky (MPRN), and Alex Lambrecht (Stella Artois).
The panel discussed the future of distributing and marketing films, including the use of brand integration. Stella Artois' Lambrecht noted, “Film is of crucial importance to us,” an essential factor in raising awareness of his company’s brand. Pogachefsky added that brand sponsorships are equally beneficial to independent filmmakers who often struggle to find financing: “Anytime you can get someone to pay for something, it’s valuable.” Addicott also mentioned that, as a non-profit, sponsors are important to the Sundance Film Festival, but they look for brands that are in line with Sundance’s image and mission.
Alternative distribution methods were also a topic, with Gaines noting that while most films never make it to the theater, smaller movies are finding audiences through nontraditional distribution such as VOD. However, he warned that “consumers… are still relatively confused” about how these new technologies work. Pogachefsky mentioned that his agency does traditional as well as viral Internet marketing, allowing clients to choose which or both methods to employ. It’s incumbent upon filmmakers, the panel agreed, to figure out what their options are and pursue the best marketing strategy for their film. [Caitlin Nascher]
3:30 PM: Questions About Panahi's Fate -- The fate of imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has drawn a dramatic spotlight to the Cannes Film Festival this afternoon with conflicting word about the state of his detainment.
Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami said that Panahi would be freed today but the news was later contradicted by word that the filmmaker's detention has been extended and that he would begin a hunger strike.
The dramatic and conflicting information gripped a press conference here today with fellow Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, reported Brian Brooks in a news report from Cannes today about the situation. The leading Iranian filmmaker spoke out in solidarity with Panahi this afternoon at the Cannes Film Festival, advocating on behalf of the freedom of filmmakers in Iran.
“The [Iranian] government does not accept the independence of filmmakers and the independent filmmaker,” Kiarostami said this afternoon during a press conference. “They will not approve our films if they don’t like our films. My films go overseas because of the fact that I have contacts overseas and they are unable to control this.”
Earlier this month, a leading group of filmmakers that included Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Jim Jarmusch and others signed a petition calling for Panahi's release.
[More at indieWIRE]
11:33 AM: The Auteurs Morphs into 'MUBI' with Sony Europe Deal - "Never before have filmmakers had the ability to program, now they do," said Celluloid Dreams head Hengameh Panahi in Cannes this morning. She helped usher in a new phase for online film library, The Auteurs, which has unveiled a partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and re-branded itself as 'MUBI.'
Under the pact, detailed today at a Majestic Hotel press event, MUBI's collection of international, independent and classic cinema will be available to European PlayStation3 users. MUBI will be a free, downloadable application that allows anyone with a PS3 in designated territories access to its library. PS3 users in the U.K., Ireland, France, Italy, the Iberian peninsula, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Benelux and Nordic countries, Australia and New Zealand will have access to MUBI's collection beginning in Autumn, 2010. Plans for North America are said to be still pending.
Included in the downlodable offering is the entire work of Belgian/French filmmaker, Agnes Varda ("The Gleaners and I"). MUBI and Sony call it "the first time that the complete work of such an established filmmaker will have been available to watch globally on the Internet." Additionally, Mexican collaboration, "Revolucion," which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and will screen in Cannes this week will be available on MUBI on the anniversary of Mexico's revolution and ahead of its worldwide DVD release. Work from the Coen brothers and Tarantino as well as Latin American directors and restored shorts are among the array of films that will be available to users. [Brian Brooks]
11:09 AM: Nuclear Future? -- "More than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the threat of nuclear annihilation remains a grave concern," writes indieWIRE's Brian Brooks today, looking at Lucy Walker's Cannes festival entry, "Countdown to Zero."
"Walker’s 'Zero' deftly exposes the vulnerability of major cities to potential nuclear calamity and argues that the only way to ensure that atomic devestation never happens again is for the world to eliminate nuclear arms." [More at indieWIRE]
10:42 AM: Godard Buzz -- Jean-Luc Godard may have famously skipped this year's Cannes Film Festival, but the dialogue about his new film continues without him.
"When I began as a film critic, Jean-Luc Godard was widely thought to have reinvented the cinema with 'Breathless' (1960)," wrote Roger Ebert yesterday, "Now he is almost 80 and has made what is said to be his last film, and he's still at the job, reinventing. If only he had stopped while he was ahead."
Good or bad, there's no question that in Cannes, the filmmaker can still draw thousands of people to his work on name alone. "It is doubtful that anyone else could have made this film and found an audience for it," Ebert added.
"Such are the complicated pleasures of Mr. Godard's work," elaborated Manohla Dargis in her own blog post about the movie yesterday, "However private, even hermetic, his film language can be, these are works that by virtue of that language's density, as well as the films' visual beauty and intellectual riddles, invite you in (or turn you off)."
For those, in France, whose interest has been piqued, the film is available for download 7€ online through today only.
9:56 AM: Misguided Melodrama? -- "There’s a difference between understanding the tools of melodrama and successfully putting them together," writes Eric Kohn today, in an indieWIRE review of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful. "Over the course of his career, [Inarritu] has repeatedly demonstrated ignorance of this distinction. With '21 Grams' and 'Babel', Inarritu enforced sentimental hooks by drawing highly implausible connections between his characters and their soapy troubles. His latest effort, the Spanish language “Biutiful,” continues this unfortunate tendency." [More at indieWIRE]