The opening ceremony of the 2016 edition (May 11-12) of the Cannes Festival was held, as usually, in the huge, but often overcrowded hall of Grand Théâtre Lumière. Woody Allen had the honor to introduce a film in this ambience, which was as official and protocol as it was sumptuous. The filmmaker suggested to the audience his new production, Café Society.
Title tells us something about the story. We are in 30’s America, at the end of the prohibition. We move from New York to Los Angeles together with Bobby, one of the three children of a jeweler family. Being fascinated by the Hollywood’s artificial universe, the young boy returns to his family after a double experience. On one hand, he doesn’t let himself to be overwhelmed by the impressive worldly stars and by their luxury, while on the other hand he is disappointed by the sentimental moment generated by the relationship he had with the beautiful Vonnie (Kristen Stewart, owner of a César for the role in Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayat, were she was performing along the legendary Juliette Binoche).Althogh the girl is in love with him, she returns to her old relationship, making Bobby to be totally disappointed. On his turn, while he comes back to New York, the boy is comforted by Veronika, from whom he is waiting a baby. We enter in a world of fancy pubs (café society), of famous jazz clubs, where you can find seducing and ambitious women, but also seducing men, still married or ready to divorce. Among them, there are also rich gangsters. A “class” of smoking suites and long dresses of the era, decorated with orchids, in a veritable cinematographic novel, with pretty many characters. In order to organize and clarify his story, the director borrowed the narrator’s voice, always staying outside the frame. You can feel the sweet-bitter style, specific to Woody Allen, as well as his tender humor. The philosophy of reconciliation with the existence rules this novelist puzzle, properly colored and inspired b the image director Vittorio Storaro, who was “oscarized” three times, but finding himself at his first cooperation with the film director. Many scenes are filmed by the camera on the shoulder, following a method (steady cam) able to provide consistency to a closer look to each character. Another detail relates to the fact that the two filmmakers performed their first “numerical” film.
Many other things should be mentioned about this film describing the “high society” of the early 20th Century, but, once it is started, the Festival quickly provides us with one event after another. Six months have passed since the tragic moment at “ Charlie Hebdo”, and in the same time we are only one month before the world football championship has to start. The Festival is also a huge public machinery. Thus, the authorities took special security measures at the place of the action, but also in the peripheries of Cannes. A simulation was executed in April, with four terrorists and 180 extras. The Minister of Internal Affairs was personally present in Cannes in order to establish a cooperation plan, a real “security coproduction”, with the municipality, for putting the city out of any risk of terrorist attacks.
New announcements regarding participations and prizes appeared. Palme d’Or d’Honneur will be handed to the actor Jean-Pierre Léaud at the final ceremony on May 22; the actor is a permanent collaborator of the film director François Truffaut.
The presence of two titles is a novelty for the Romanian film industry, and we hope that the jury, which is headed by George Miller (a fan of the big shows, see Mad Max), will be impressed by the creations of the two filmmakers, Cristi Puiu and Cristian Mungiu, which are seen as “the most brilliant figures of the new Romanian film industry”. Do not forget that only 49 titles, coming from 28 countries, were kept in the competition, out of 1869 titles sent by the address of the Festival. Let’s notice that, actually, other Romanian productions are also screened in other sections. The main list of films competing within Palme d’Or includes 21 titles, representing 14 countries. Let’s also see that Russians, Italians, Portuguese, Czechs, Polish, Chinese filmmakers are missing from this schedule, while Romania has two representatives. It’s a first assessment to be appreciated, besides the record as it is.
In fact, I’ve already got excited about the Romanian screenings. Today, May 12, Cristi Puiu’s film “Sieranevada”, will be introduced to the Media, on the occasion of the screening at Claude Debussy Hall (at 7.00 pm). The usual press conference is scheduled to take place tomorrow (at 12.30). The gala screening will be performed in the same day, at Grand Théatre Lumière (at 15.30).