All eyes on Spielberg as Cannes opens

2013-05-15 18:52
Steven Spielberg Cannes
Cannes, France- It's the big Cannes question — what will catch Steven Spielberg's eye?

The king of Hollywood heads the jury that will decide who wins the Palme d'Or and other prizes at the French Riviera film fest, and artistic director Thierry Fremaux can't wait to find out what takes his fancy.

"We know (Spielberg) the director, but we don't know who he will be as a spectator," Fremaux said on Tuesday.

"Take the two Japanese films in competition. Will the director of Jaws, E.T. and Saving Private Ryan root for Takashi Miike's action-packed crime drama Shield of Straw or for Kore-Eda Hirokazu's intimate family story Like Father, Like Son?

"I still don't know what he will prefer: The action film, which is more similar to his own cinema, or the auteur film that is completely different," said Fremaux, who has overseen the festival since 2001.

'I want to make a journey'

Spielberg did drop a hint, however. Fremaux said Spielberg told him that on the jury, "I want to make a journey. I want to know how people make cinema in a different way than mine."

Spielberg and his fellow jurors - who include actors Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz and director Ang Lee - were gathering for introductory cocktails on Tuesday, as a small army of workers erected signs, touched up paintwork and readied the red carpet outside the festival's main venue, the Palais des Cinemas.

The film extravaganza opens Wednesday with Baz Luhrmann's jazz-age extravaganza The Great Gatsby and runs to May 27.

The 20 contenders for the Palme d'Or include new movies from the Coen brothers, Roman Polanski, Alexander Payne and Asghar Farhadi.

It's notoriously difficult to predict the winner, but some things at Cannes are guaranteed. There will be sand. There will be sun - despite a forecast of rain for the opening night. And, Fremaux says, there will be sex.

Theme of love

Asked if there's a theme running through the selection, Fremaux suggested "love — the main theme of history."

Films with a romantic element include Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, Abdellatif Kechiche's coming-of-age story La Vie d'Adele — and possibly Farhadi's post-divorce tale The Past.

Fremaux said some of the movies push boundaries in terms of the screen depiction of sex — even though times have changed since a film called La Grande Bouffe scandalized Cannes in 1973 with its graphic sex and nudity.

No longer quite so shocking, La Grande Bouffe is being screened again this year as part of the "Cannes Classics" programme.

"I think society is much more open than 40 years ago and it's more possible to talk about sexuality,” Fremaux said.

"Directors have got freedom to do what they want to do. (But) that freedom goes maybe to certain limits - so we will see."

He said several films resonated with the debate raging in France - and elsewhere - about same-sex marriage.

"It's a coincidence, but it's also the directors and filmmakers and artists going inside the world, inside society," he said. "And it's also what Cannes wants to show.” publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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