trouble brewing at Cannes, by Stephanie Bunbury -
12th May 2004
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Michael Moore's battle with Disney has film festival
goers hot under the collar, writes Stephanie Bunbury
is nothing that tarty old Cannes loves more than a
fight. Even before tonight's opening gala, the 57th
Cannes Film Festival, which runs until May 23, is
up to its bejewelled neck in delicious controversy.
For this, thank Michael Moore.
the polemicist behind Bowling for Columbine, has spent
the last week fighting Disney and, so far, winning
every round. Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, about George
Bush, the Bin Laden family and their collective dirty
deeds, was made under the auspices of Miramax, a Disney
subsidiary, but Disney is refusing to distribute it.
Moore says that this is an issue of free speech, since
its refusal may mean it is never seen in America.
is unlikely, as several distributors are vying for
it, but Fahrenheit 9/11 is a cause celebre at a film
festival where 4000 journalists are champing at the
bit for any story with a bit more substance than the
latest celebrity frock. In a delicious twist, the
Disney PRs are bleating that Moore is - well, heavens
- trying to whip up publicity.
9/11 is just one of several hot tickets in Cannes's
strongest official line-up in years. The festival
has to find a tricky balance between "buzz"
films, high glamour, serious art and the very new.
This is never easy, but last year's festival was generally
regarded as the worst in living memory. Gilles Jacob,
its ageing and gnomic president, appeared to have
stacked the main competition with old Frenchmen. You
couldn't help but suspect that they had claimed their
places on the strength of going to the same tailor.
year, by contrast, the most noticeable old French
bloke on the program is an undisputed maestro: Jean-Luc
Godard, in Cannes with a film about war called Notre
Musique. No one will complain about that. He is joined
at the auteur end of proceedings by Michelangelo Antonioni,
92, the author of a new short film about the restoration
of his namesake's statue of Moses.
films that are really getting the film buffs twitchy
with anticipation, however, are Walter Central Station
Salles's filmed version of The Motorcycle Diaries,
with sultry Latino Gael Garcia Bernal as Che Guevara,
and Niels Mueller's The Assassination of Richard Nixon,
which stars Sean Penn as a disillusioned American
dreamer who decides to hijack a plane. Penn's co-star
Naomi Watts will not be the only Australian with a
high Cannes profile - Geoffrey Rush steps on to the
red carpet for the Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
Most significantly, an Australian feature has been
selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the
festival. Cate Shortland, who has already made some
excellent shorts and spent four years directing The
Secret Life of Us, will be on the Croisette with her
uncompromising, first feature, Somersault, the story
of a teenage runaway.
the official competition reflects the vitality of
East Asian cinema with new films from Wong Kar-wai,
(2046, Hong Kong) Oshii Mamoru (Innocence, Japan)
and Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Korea) in competition
and a rollicking genre film, Zhang Yimou's House of
Flying Daggers, showing outside competition in a special
screening. Zhang Yimou's Chinese swashbucklers will
give the flabby Kill Bill 2, also showing in Cannes
in honour of jury president Quentin Tarantino, a run
for its money.
Cannes, as we know, loves a fight.
Sydney Morning Herald
Moore official website
You Wish Upon A Star... by Michael Moore - 7th May
blocks 9/11 doco - 6th May 2004
For Trouble - 7th December 2002
a snow-capped peak for director - 8th May 2004
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