Cannes Diary: Star power and a Polanski biopic

May 17, 2012

Milos Stehlik

Download Story

Despite the star power, and the usual autograph-seekers and star-gazers who park themselves in the median facing the red carpeted stairs from the early morning, it was a quieter, gentler opening night for Cannes.

Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Billy Murray and Tilda Swinton were here for Moonrise Kingdom, as well as actress Jessica Chastain, who stars in Lawless, a new film by John Hillcoat. One also had the chance to spot Alec Baldwin, who’s here in Cannes shooting a film with James Toback, and members of the jury, including Alexander Payne, Scottish director Andrea Arnold, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, actresses Hiam Abbas, Emmanuelle Devos, director Raoul Peck, model Diane Kruger, Italian director and Jury President Nanni Moretti and actor Ewan McGregor.

Wednesday afternoon the festival premiered the out-of-competition biopic Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir. The film was culled from a 30-hour interview with Polanski’s long-time friend, Andrew Braunsberg, while Polanski was under house arrest in Switzerland. It’s filled with archival footage and clips from Polanski films. Some might argue that the film glosses over Polanski's infamous arrest and prosecution (he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977), but the film tries to draw an arc over Polanski's tragic and dramatic life: He survived the Holocaust as a child, but his mother died in a concentration camp. His second wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by members of the Manson family, when she was 8 ½ months pregnant. Polanski is now married to French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.  

In other film news, Thursday on Worldview you can hear my recent conversation with award-winning actor/director Nadine Labaki.

Labaiki’s life in film began during her childhood in war-torn Lebanon, when she was not allowed outside. As a result, she spent much of her time watching television and dreaming.

Her first feature film, Caramel, was a romantic comedy about five women in a Beirut beauty shop who struggle with love, tradition, sex and aging across the dividing lines of religion. Labaki’s film put Lebanese cinema on the map and became a worldwide audience and box office hit.

Now, five years later, Labaki turns her lens on a remote Lebanese village where Christians and Muslims get along, until men begin to create strife. With humor, music and craftiness worthy of Lysistrata, the village women try and stop the violence by taking matters into their own hands. Using mostly amateur actors and shooting on realistic locations, Where Do We Go Now is a heart-warming and poignant fable.

Tune in Thursday to hear my conversation with Labaki.