Cannes Film Festival 2011: 'Miss Bala' and 'The Artist' are highlights amid the spotlights

May 16, 2011

Reflections from Cannes, Day 5

The “dailies” – the daily trade papers like Variety, Screen and Le Film Francais - which are published here in Cannes in special editions balance the sometimes uneasy relationship between the film business and art of film. Much of the front-page is devoted to stories, of course, about business: who bought-and-sold what film and who announced a new production, along with armchair analysis of the state of the “biz.”

In subsequent pages there are reviews, which the trade papers are under fierce competition with each other to post in their online editions within a couple of hours of the first press screening of the film.

Last night belonged to an out-of-competition screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, and a fireworks display over the harbor following the premiere. No boat was sunk during the proceedings.

On a more somber note, The Kid with a Bike by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, has its premiere here tonight. The two Belgian brothers, whose films like The Child, The Son, Silence of Lorna, and Rosetta are studies in salvation and redemption, are cinema’s Dostoevskys, examining questions of crime and punishment in intense psychological journeys into depths of the human soul.

Their new film centers on a pre-teen-aged boy left at an orphanage by his father, whose desperate search to find and re-connect to his father leads him to an uneasy bond with a foster mother who is a hairdresser.

The Footnote, an Israeli film by Joseph Cedar by Joseph Cedar, also in the competition, is a study of a father-son competition in the rarefied world of academic studies of the Talmud.

Miss Bala, the story of a young girl in a beauty pageant, set against a violent background of the Mexican drug trade, directed by Gerard Naranjo is an audience hit here, as is The Artist, a French film by Michel Hazanavicius, about a silent movie star who can’t make the transition to talkies. Shot in beautiful black and white, and largely silent, it’s a love story and a love letter to silent film.

Both of these films already have U.S. distribution.