When closely examining the Cannes lineup, I was struck by how many films are coming to the festival in the English language. I thought subtitles weren’t a problem anymore. But there are six American films in the competition (one by Wong Kar-wai), not to mention another handful out of competition — “Sicko,” “A Mighty Heart,” “Ocean’s 13;” even Olivier Assayas has returned to the English-language with “Boarding Gate.” If this trend is killing indigenous cinematic cultural production, I’m not sure, but even festival director Thierry Fremaux told Variety that “‘Blueberry Nights” — with a Chinese director, European money and American actors, is “a sign of a new world.”
American indies like Harmony Korine’s “Mister Lonely,” Tom Kalin’s “Saving Grace” and Ramin Bahrani’s “Chop Shop” have also nabbed Cannes spots, which is great for them and is a testament to Cannes’s increasing importance for a certain kind of art-house American film (“Day Night Day Night” also debuted there). So where did all the foreign language films go? They’re still there, of course. But I fear they might get upstaged during the festival as journos and distribs look for bigger fish.
In today’s indieWIRE article “10 Foreign-Language Films To Watch in Cannes“, I’ve tried to push the momentum in the other direction, spotlighting a wide spectrum of foreign productions — from genre to art-film — that should be getting attention during the fest. There are others to be sure — I’ve heard good word about “Night Train,” the latest from Chinese filmmaker Diao Yi’nan (“Uniform”) and the Lebanese comedy “Caramel.” I’m curious about the new film from “The Return” director Andrey Zvyagintsev and there are a handful of somewhat indistinguishable French productions that I’m assuming one or two will rise to the top. And then there are those couple films by directors you’ve never heard of that make a splash at Cannes with something innovative and incredible. Despite the madness of the festival, it’s what keeps me and so many others going — despite our better judgement.