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5-min read

There will be No Indian Movie at Cannes Film Festival this Year?

Last year, the highly anticipated Manto by Nandita Das was part of A Certain Regard. Highly anticipated because Das ran an effective campaign to ensure that her work.

Gautaman Bhaskaran | News18.com

Updated:April 19, 2019, 11:55 AM IST
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There will be No Indian Movie at Cannes Film Festival this Year?
Agnes Varda on Cannes Festival’s poster for this year.
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This year, there will be no Indian movie at the Cannes Film Festival – opening on May 14. At least, so it seems going by the announcement made by the Festival chief, Thierry Fremaux, in Paris on Thursday. In the past few years, he had left till the end a few slots open in the 12-day Festival's various sections – Competition, Out Of Competition, A Certain Regard, Special Screenings and Midnight Screenings. But it is unlikely that an Indian movie would be chosen now.

Last year, the highly anticipated Manto by Nandita Das was part of A Certain Regard. Highly anticipated – I would say, because Das ran an effective campaign to ensure that her work, a kind of fictionalised biopic on the celebrated Pakistani writer and poet, Sadat Hassan Manto (whose works were honest, brutal and provocative), caught the eye of Cannes selectors.

A year earlier, she flew down to Cannes, screened clips from her film, invited journalists and others. Also, Das has been a familiar face at the French Riviera. She had been on the jury twice, once on the main Competition panel.

However, all this is not to even remotely imply that Manto did not qualify to be part of Cannes. Aishwarya Rai has been a permanent fixture there. She has been the face of L Oreal, and had, like Das, served on the main Competition jury. But, if my memory serves me right, there was just one movie of hers, Devdas, which played at Cannes 2002, and I remember Fremaux came in for a lot of flak for having picked this film.

So, one must have a work of substance to hope for a Cannes slot.

Manto turned out to be a gripping piece of narration, and was apt for the kind of times we all live in today. The movie spoke about intolerance, more specifically religious intolerance, and how writers were harassed only because they spoke what they saw. Manto faced several legal cases that charged him with writing obscene essays. The period was India's Partition days, when there was growing animosity between people – divided by an artificial border, something we have been seeing ever since the world over. So, well, this May India will have blank slate to show at Cannes!

But the nation, which produces almost 2000 films a year, can console itself by the fact that there were other highly expected titles which did not make the cut. The Truth from Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda – who won last year's Palm dÓr for his brilliant work, Shoplifters, is not part of Cannes 2019. It is said that the director wanted his movie to open the Festival, and this may have been the reason for the film not being selected. The Truth is the Kore-eda's first feature shot outside Japan. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche. The movie will now most likely travel to Venice at the end of August.

Also, a whole lot of Netflix titles, will like last year, skip Cannes this May, because Fremaux has not been able to work out a compromise between the streaming giant and French distributors/exhibitors, who are insisting on a theatrical release before a web outing. So, some great fare like Martin Scorsese's epic The Irishman, Meryl Streep starrer The Laundromat from Steven Soderbergh (who shot to fame after his Sex, Lies and Videotape many years ago) and Noah Baumbach's period drama The King will not be at Cannes, and what a pity. Let us not forget, a work of such splendid beauty and power like Roma (from Netflix) went to Venice because Cannes kept it out.

Another hot title, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Brad Pitt and Leonardo di Caprio on the horrific murder of a heavily pregnant Sharon Tate (wife of Roman Polanski) may not be arriving on the Croisette (Cannes beach front), because as Fremaux said the “post-production on the film, which Tarantino shot in traditional 35 mm, has been particularly time-consuming and he was in a sprint to finish it in time for its scheduled release this summer”. But Mr Tarantino – known for some great cinema and remembered for his controversial decision as the President of the Cannes jury in 2004 to award the Palm dÓr to Michael Moore's documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11 (which panned President Bush) – might just about reach the finishing line before May 14 to get his work into Cannes.

Here is the list of movies that will be screened at Cannes this May. Some additions can follow in the coming days.

Competition:

Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar

The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio

Wild Goose Lake, Yinan Diao

Parasite, Bong Joon-ho

Young Ahmed, The Dardenne Brothers

Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin

Atlantique, Mati Diop

Matthias and Maxime, Xavier Dolan

Little Joe, Jessica Hausner

Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach

Les Miserables, Ladj Ly

A Hidden Life (previously known as Radegund), Terrence Malik

Nighthawk, Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles

The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu

Frankie, Ira Sachs

The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma

It Must Be Heaven, Elia Suleiman

Sybil, Justine Triet

Out of Competition:

Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher

The Best Years of Life, Claude Lelouch

Maradona, Asif Kapadia

La Belle Epoque, Nicolas Bedos

Too Old to Die Young, Nicolas Winding Refn (TV series screening 2 episodes)

Special Screenings:

Share, Pippa Bianco

Family Romance LLC, Werner Herzog

Tommaso, Abel Ferrara

To Be Alive and Know It, Alain Cavalier

For Sama, Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts

Midnight Screenings:

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-Tae

Un Certain Regard:

Invisible Life, Karim Aïnouz

Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov

The Swallows of Kabul, Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobé Mévellec

A Brother’s Love, Monia Chokri

The Climb, Michael Covino

Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont

A Sun That Never Sets, Olivier Laxe

Chambre 212, Christophe Honoré

Port Authority, Danielle Lessovitz

Papicha, Mounia Meddour

Adam, Maryam Touzani

Zhuo Ren Mi Mi, Midi Z

Liberte, Albert Serra

Bull, Annie Silverstein

Summer of Changsha, Zu Feng

EVGE, Nariman Aliev

(Author, commentator and movie critic Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered Cannes for 28 years)

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