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March 8, 2021

From “virtual reality” to real existence

The week at the end of which we will know the track record of the 69th edition started with clear skies and Cannes blossomed again, in its parallel rhythms, with crowds willing to find out the novelties but also with long queues formed by smartly dressed people who were waiting to go up the famous steps at the top of which there is always Thierry Fremaux, the Festival’s general delegate.

Images from various sections are broadcast in parallel, sometimes simultaneously. They keep alive a continuous dialogue between realism and fiction, between computer generated and authentic images. Monday’s as well as Tuesday’s bill convince us that the batch had in mind a programmatic construct, a complementary vision, bringing opposites together in order to make them more relevant.

Monday morning started, for instance, with a conference – organised by the American Exhibition Stand (AmPav) at the Cannes Festival’s International Village – under the slogan “Discover the New Landscape of Cinematic VR”. Participants of authority in the domain, debated this topic for almost two hours with appropriate technological instruments and methodologies, in the view of the best specialists of the planet. The evolutionary lines of recording 360-degree 3D images were emphasised: the new rules of stage setting and the advantages of production. The two axes (European and American), 3D Stereo MEDIA (Belgium) and Advanced Imaging Society, active in Belgium and Hollywood respectively, are preparing an important event for December, hosted by Brussels.

Living in a computer-generated fiction risks moving us too far away from reality at hand, from people’s real lives. I would say the festival counteracted this possible technological escapism from daily life by including in the list of screenings on Monday and Tuesday two films whose main characters are two women. The films (Personal Shopper and Julieta) are signed by two heavyweights: Olivier Assayas and Pedro Almodovar respectively. Both are much awaited and applauded presences here in Cannes.

The Frenchman’s film has Kristen Stewart as leading character, the American actress also acting in Woody Allen’s Café Society, the opening film. The character there (Vonnie) was of an entirely different nature, experiencing passion full of emotions and nostalgias. In the second, apart from professional activity, with unpredictable effects, specific to the world of fashion, the actress has to outline an unsettled psychology laden with fear and overexcitement. Her twin brother died young, suffering from a heart illness that also affects her. Maureen, who handles the wardrobe of a personality, is a young American who is working in Paris, unable to forget Lewis, her late brother. She is experiencing spiritual trance, imagining dialogues with him, being unable to break with her missing half. It can be said that, in fact, reality intermixes with parallel reality here too, the film looking like, on another level, of course, the continuation of the duo in Sils Maria, signed by the same Olivier Assayas, where Kristen Stewart played alongside Juliette Binoche.

Pedro Almodovar offers us a reality closer to the condition of the regular man, his film, Julieta, being considered by many journalists a strong contender for the Palme d’Or, especially if we consider that, despite being highly appreciated, having an impressive popularity rating, the Spanish filmmaker never managed to top the list of awards. The film was given two simultaneous screenings, on the morning of Tuesday, when, at 8.30 a.m., it could be seen both at Grand Theatre Lumiere as well as at the Claude Debussy hall. Here to, in Julieta, we have a relationship between two women: a mother who sets out to look for her missing 18-year-old daughter. The story does not become dramatic, the tone is restrained and the director knows how to avoid, with refinement, any melo excess. The topic processes three short stories signed by Alice Munro, published in 2004, and the cast is remarkable, both actresses (Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte) convincingly acting an authentic, plausible occurrence seemingly torn right from the reality of simple people who are in difficulty. The artistic expression lives up to this too. Of course, the story becomes painful, but the naturalness of its presentation is moving to a well-known extent characteristic for Pedro Almodovar’s films.

Worthy of emphasis is that yesterday’s press conferences came one shortly after another: Julieta (11 a.m.) and Personal Shopper (12.30 p.m.), each director being accompanied by large teams, particularly by many actresses from the cast.


French Embassy: Romania-France cinema partnership facilitates exchange of expertise, good practices


The cinematography partnership between Romania and France signed last Sunday in Cannes facilitates the exchange of expertise and good practices, the French Embassy in Bucharest said in a release on Tuesday.

The two-year partnership between France’s National Centre of Cinematography and Animated Image (CNC) and Romania’s National Centre of Cinematography especially facilitates “the conservation of the cinematographic heritage, the education focused on image, the international co-production, the support for the exploitation of cinema theatres, and the taxation,” the release reads.

For the signing, French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay received her Romanian counterpart Corina Suteu; the event was attended by the French CNC delegate manager Christophe Tardieu, Romanian CNC director Anca Mitran, by the Romanian minister’s advisors for cinematography and for theatre, Alex Traila and Anghel Damian, and by Romania’s ambassador to France Luca Niculescu. The partnership is to be extended tacitly.

The connection between the two countries’ cinema industries was visible by the substantial Romanian presence in the Cannes Film Festival, with three feature films and two short films, including 2007 Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu’s ‘Baccalaureate’ and 2005 Un Certain Regard winner Cristi Puiu’s ‘Sieranevada’ in the official competition. ‘Sieranevada’ and Bogdan Mirica’s feature ‘Dogs’ were supported through the ‘Aide aux cinemas du monde’ aid system for international co-production, granted by France’s CNC and the French Institute in Paris.

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