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.
5:30 PM: Facing the Future — Angus Finney, author of “The International Film Business: A Market Guide Beyond Hollywood,” moderated the “Back to the Future: The International Film Business” panel today at the UK Pavilion in Cannes with Philippe Carcasonne (Cinea), Justin Marciano (Revolver), Carole Scotta (Haut et Court), and James Schamus (Focus Features).
In addressing their companies’ role in future of the film industry, Schamus said he wanted to change the perception of intellectual property as something that gets passed around and fed off of “until there’s nothing left” for the original creator; however, he did not think that do-it-yourself methods of distribution and exhibition were the answer. Marciano indicated that Revolver tried to be aware of what people are consuming, “being as reactive as we possibly can” while also experimenting with new approaches such as the sale of digital rights. He went on to say that independents have more flexibility as far as experimenting with new techniques of getting their films seen. Scotta added that the “business model of distribution… makes less and less sense” because of VOD and other hard-to-control elements. She emphasized that not every film makes money; distribution is a gamble.
The panel zeroed in on digital distribution, with Schamus asserting, “There is literally no business model for our business.” He said that there are good profit margins on digital transactions such as VOD; the problem is that such transactions are “controlled by entities that control the menu;” ie, the cable companies. Companies are increasingly using personal information to target audiences, but this system depends on consumers who will sacrifice their privacy for easier access to entertainment.
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The subject of piracy was also discussed at some length. Marciano turned the blame at least partially on the film industry itself: “The fact that piracy exists… proves that there are better forms of distribution” than the current model. The root of the problem, he stated, is that younger generations don’t want to go along with the industry’s timetable, which restricts when they can see films theatrically, on television, or on DVD. Scotta added that she believes people will pay if products are readily available for a fair price: “It’s about being accessible.” [Caitlin Nascher]
2:20 PM: Talking “Shit” With Archer & Barkin — Director Cam Archer, producers Lars Knudsen and Jay van Hoy, and star Ellen Barkin were on hand to discuss their film “Shit Year” at the American Pavilion today in Cannes.
Sundance director of programming Trevor Groth moderated the discussion, asking about their experiences in Cannes. Archer replied that “it’s such a small film, and it’s such a big venue,” although Cannes veteran Barkin disagreed with his humble assessment. Previously on the Croisette with “Ocean’s 13,” she noted that there had been more glitz and glamour involved with the earlier film, but emphasized that her part in “Shit Year” had been very rewarding for her.
Archer noted that “Shit Year,” in which Barkin’s character detaches from reality by constantly playing roles, was inspired by his “own feelings of isolation and detachment.” The actress, receiving the script through their shared agency, said she “was pretty much in when [she] read the script,” adding that she and Archer spent months talking on the phone to hammer out the precise details of her character, as the script was simple, almost entirely dialogue. “I never knew how the movie was going to be shot,” Barkin revealed, later adding, “I figured I was in good hands.”
Of his decision to film in black and white reversal, Archer said that he found it appropriate for a film about an actress because it evokes classical Hollywood style. He said that he doesn’t prepare storyboards, instead preferring to make small notes for himself and later piecing them all together; for example, he came up with the idea for apple dolls, a craft Colleen is forced to do with her neighbor in the film, and didn’t figure out until later where he could fit it in.
When asked who his influences were, Archer cited Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Lynne Ramsay, and Allison Anders. Groth pointed out that all of those directors have had connections to Cannes – and now, Archer has joined their ranks. [Caitlin Nascher]
1:45 PM: Archer & Mitchell on Directing — Filmmakers David Robert Mitchell (“The Myth of the American Sleepover”) and Cam Archer (“Shit Year”) appeared in the American Pavilion for a panel on American Directors In Cannes, moderated by Thompson on Hollywood‘s Anne Thompson.
When asked how they became directors, Archer responded that he likes “telling people what to do,” while Mitchell explained that he had been making films since high school but didn’t find his footing until he was a grad student. Commenting on what it’s like as a director to have a film screened at Cannes, Mitchell said, “This is the biggest festival there is.” Archer added, “You don’t think it’s ever going to happen.” Later, responding to a question about the future of the film industry, Archer stated that he’s okay with making small-budget films forever. Mitchell concurred, saying definitively, “I will make more films.”
Archer provided some insight on the making of “Shit Year,” a film about a retiring actress (Ellen Barkin) facing an identity crisis amid a romantic entanglement with a younger actor. The film was shot in black and white, a decision Archer says complimented the “highs and lows and darks and lights” in the life of Barkin’s character. The story is told nonlinearly, with stark changes in tone representing the protagonist’s changing state of mind in both realistic and fantastical settings. “If your film doesn’t have some element of fantasy to it,” Archer asked, “Why are you making it?”
Regarding “American Sleepover,” Mitchell said that he “tried to give a balance” to the film’s many characters while going over the script. Much of the film relied on acting rather than dialogue: “I love the idea of telling a story through point of view,” he said, emphasizing the importance of a glance or a touch in communicating the characters’ feelings to the audience. Due to budget constraints, Mitchell had to get particularly resourceful to film some scenes; he spoke of putting his actors on floats in a real parade because he couldn’t afford to fake one. About his title, Mitchell said that it represented the experiences that teens in America expect to have while they’re growing up, and what is false about those expectations. [Caitlin Nascher]
12:04 PM: No Country for Old Men — Today, Eric Kohn takes a closer look at Mike Leigh’s exceptionally well-received Cannes competition entry, “Another Year.”
“Stories of aging, loneliness and despair typically don’t translate into crowdpleasers, but there’s nothing typical about a Mike Leigh movie. With “Another Year,” a skillfully understated character study from the master of subtext, Leigh magnifies the existential reflections of his middle-aged subjects, eschewing plot for mere observation and stuffing emotional realism into near-theatrical constraints. Smoothly oscillating from comedy to crisis with an unparalleled eye for naturalism, Leigh once again puts intangible feelings in the spotlight and—using brilliant finesse—makes them funny and profound.” [More here at indieWIRE]
11:37 AM: Talking Taymor — Over by the pool at The Majestic Hotel, Anne Thompson talks with Julie Taymor about “The Tempest,” her feature adaptation of the film after directing it a few times for the stage. The film, screening in the Cannes market (not the festival), is showing to buyers only, not press. It will have a December release and is aimed for the fall film festival circuit.
For the film, Taymor has made some changes, with Helen Mirren as a female lead, named Prospera. It features, she says, “Ben Whishaw as Ariel and Djiman Hounsou as Caliban, costumes (Oscar-winner Sandy Powell), cinematography, production design and score (Elliot Goldenthal).”
Taymor told Thompson that she is quite comfortable with Shakespeare, explaining that she finds something in his work that she never finds in other writers. Meanwhile, she has some other projects in the works, but isn’t ready to pin down any details on her staging of Spiderman, other than its lead, Reeve Carney. [More at Thompson on Hollywood]
10:33 AM: Brilliant Evening — “The best film of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival thus far was a 47-year-old one shown Friday on what was one of the most electrifying evenings in recent festival history,” begins a dispatch from Cannes by Todd McCarthy. He recounts the night, which included surprise guests Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. “Among the most gorgeous icons of the 1960s, both actors, neither of whom have worked much in recent times, are now in their 70s, appeared pretty spry, even frisky. Delon, who has a lined but not saggy face and enviably thick silver-gray hair, did all the talking, honoring his collaborators and saying how much he was looking forward to watching the film again nearly a half-century after it first showed at Cannes. Cardinale, dressed in black with hair to match, laughed and cavorted about the stage but never took the microphone.”
And then, as the dispatch continues, McCarthy recounts a stunning story, recalling a flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City alongside an unexpected traveling companion, namely “The Leopard’s” star, Burt Lancaster. [More at Todd McCarthy’s DeepFocus]
9:56 AM: “Heartbeats” Review — Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has his second film in Cannes in just two years, and he’s just 21 years old. Dolan’s follow-up to “I KIlled My Mother” is “Les Amours Imaginaires” (Heartbeats), which debuted yesterday here at the Cannes Film Festival. A film that indieWIRE critic Eric Kohn describes as, “A hyperstylized “Jules and Jim” update,” the new movie is both “as hip as he intends it” and a “chic look at a bisexual love triangle occasionally feels too entangled in its own cool maneuvers.”
“With ‘I Killed My Mother’, Dolan proved his remarkably polished ability, at age 20, to craft an emotionally compelling family dynamic with two core performances. Here, he takes the opposite approach, moving away from the delicate humanistic perspective to play around with sexual tension. The whole thing comes across like a fluffy exercise from a guy whose talents would be better served by artistic progress, but it’s nice to know he’s got a wide range; now he should find a strategy for melding the conceits of his first and second features into a unified whole. A profound, believable romance, perhaps?” [More here at indieWIRE]