One of the most marvellous aspects about the Cannes Film Festival is its unique style of heightening anticipation by giving us page-by-page of hat is to come when the cinematic extravaganza begins on May 11 on the divinely picturesque French Riviera.
The Festival has just unveiled its poster, which is invariably a work of exquisite art that the 10,000-odd men and women who attend the 12-day event year after year keenly look forward to.
This year, it is the picture of Faye Dunaway, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in her 1976 Network, a satire on television rating. Dunaway, who has acted in such critically acclaimed movies as Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Towering Inferno, has always been a "model of sophistication and timeless elegance, an embodiment of the cinematic dream that the Festival de Cannes seeks to maintain".
The photograph was taken in 1970 by film director Jerry Schatzberg (who won the Palme d’Or in 1973 for Scarecrow) during his first movie, Puzzle of a Downfall Child, where Dunaway has the starring part. The poster shows a leggy Dunaway, an image of haunting grace and beauty.
Dunaway essays a once renowned New York model, desperately clinging on to a lost glory, in Puzzle of a Downfall Child. The movie has been restored by Universal, and will be screened at Cannes with both Dunaway and Schatzberg attending the screening.
Returning to posters, Cannes has had a history of absolutely aesthetic posters. The one that caught wide attention in recent times was inspired by the Italian master, Michelangelo Antonioni’s, 1960 classic, The Adventure. This poster of the 2009 Festival showed a mysterious woman silhouetted against an open window. Created by Annick Durban, the picture seemed to be inviting us through the window to a world of magic and motion, celluloid and celebration.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran, who recently authored a biography of India’s auteur director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, will be covering the Cannes Film Festival for the 21st year this May.)