Last year was undoubtedly grand after about a decade with some of cinema’s grand masters in the Festival’s official lineup. The 12-day extravaganza kicked off with a sweet feel-good movie,Up, astutely animated in 3D. This was the first time in the history of Cannes that an animated work opened the Festival.
Admittedly this year’s opener, Ridley Scott’s period drama, Robin Hood, was no comparison. With its almost non-existent script, it was all sound and little substance.
Let us run through last year’s highs: Michael Haneke’s Palm d’Or winner, The White Ribbon about an evil little village that contained the seeds of World War II, Jacques Audiard’s riveting prison piece, A Prophet, Quentin Tarantino’s brilliantly narrated Nazi story, Inglorious Basterds and Lars Von Trier’s sheer shocker, Antichrist made 2009 a glorious year for the Festival on the Riviera.
But, in all fairness to the Festival, I must say that apart from a rather disappointing start, this year has its basket of promises. We do have Mike Leigh with Another Year, Ken Loach with Route Irish (both British), Takeshi Kitano with Outrage (Japan, and back with the gangster genre), Abbas Kiarostami with Certified Copy (Iran), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Biutiful (Mexico) and Doug Liman with Fair Game (USA).
And for India, it is indeed a lovely year with Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan playing in the Festival’s second most significant and sought-after section, A Certain Regard. An Indian movie screens at Cannes after seven years, and should we call it the rediscovery of the nation of a billion-plus people and 1200-odd films annually.
Finally, with the glamour element at Cannes not quite its usual peak this summer, I and many others are glad that the Festival has – probably – realised the importance of getting the world’s most premier cinema event on an artistic high.