by Fabien Lemercier
23/05/2005 - The 58th Cannes Film Festival ended last night with awards which were qualified as strange by many observers, the finishing touches to a trench that is being dug out bit by bit between the pure cinema of the auteur and an industry completely dominated by commercial imperatives. In fact, if the Palm D’Or attributed to The Child [trailer, film focus] from the Dardenne brothers, the Grand Prix won by Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) and the Director’s award won by Michael Haneke (Hidden [trailer, film focus]) fit perfectly the bill of films d’auteurs, the two prizes scooped up by The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones best actor and Guillermo Arriaga best screenplay) astonished the international critics. Not because this French-American production didn’t merit its place in the Festival but to see its reach these heights (two prizes out of six) appears to be an excessively favourable result. It seems that strong dissentions among the jury members led to a compromise in the awards, as evidenced also by the Jury Prize handed to Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai for Shangaï Dreams, a film which bored most festival goers.
With its impressive motorcade of established filmmakers and its films looking back to the past and seeking answers to the ageing process, the festival revealed the transitional state of world cinema. For the moment the young filmmakers have not yet achieved the heights of their elders, since this year did not see the arrival of an undeniable masterpiece. With the exception of the American Miranda July (achieving a famous triple Sundance-Critic’s Week-Caméra d’Or with her first feature Me and You and Everyone we know), there were few revelations in the parallel sections. Even though the young Portuguese cinema showed promise for the future, as did Hungarian Kornel Mundruczo and the violent work of British Thomas Clay, the European replacements appear to have a long way to go before they match the “old guard”. A conclusion that applies in particular to French cinema, which this year seemed devoid of outstanding new talent. However, the Old Continent discovered Joyeux Noël [trailer, film focus] by Christian Carion, an ambassador who, without really enrapturing the critics, enthused the public and the buyers. A success which will no doubt allow him to fly the flag for Europe in cinemas worldwide with The Child by the brothers Dardenne as a perfect foil in the demanding arena of the film buffs.
(Translated from French)