At Cannes 2019, Indian films missing from official selection, no Indian talent on juries
The first film I saw at the Cannes Film Festival was only six minutes long. It was a snippet of a VR film, which attempts to engage all your senses including smell. But that isn’t the most unusual thing about Le Musk. The most unusual thing is that it’s been directed by one of the world’s greatest living composers – A. R. Rahman.
Rahman was in Cannes to give a talk about his passion project, which is already three years in the making. The film, presented by Intel, is a non-linear sensory experience with beautiful and unsettling visuals. Le Musk asks intriguing questions – what is the scent of fear, what is the scent of joy. I asked Rahman if it would also provide answers. He smiled and said the important thing is to ask questions. Le Musk, which will eventually be a little over an hour long, is likely to be completed by December.
The festival kicked off with a screening of Jim Jarmusch’s star-studded zombie romp The Dead Don’t Die. The Palais des Festival was teeming with stars – first the jury, led by Oscar winning filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, also includes actor Elle Fanning and Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. I spotted Julianne Moore and Eva Longoria in the audience. And of course the cast of the film came out in full force – Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Chloe Sevigny were there. Despite the stellar talent, the film is underwhelming. Jarmusch is making a point about a world gone to hell but the film is more sluggish than smart. The crackling promos promised much more but sadly, this one doesn’t soar.
Meanwhile, controversy continued to swirl around the decision to honour veteran French actor Alain Delon -- who has a history of misogynist comments and far right politics -- with an honorary Palme d’Or. To which festival director Thierry Fremaux said: “We’re not going to give the Nobel peace prize to Alain Delon…he is entitled to express his views.” Cannes has long been criticised for not having enough female filmmakers in the official selection. This year, 13 of the 47 films in the official selection are directed by women and four female directors are in contention for the Palme d’Or. In the 72-year history of the festival, only one woman - Jane Campion, has won the Palme (for The Piano in 1993).
Yesterday the festival released some numbers – this year 1845 feature films were submitted for the official selection. Not a single Indian film made the cut. Neither do we have Indian artists on any of the juries. A Cannes veteran told me that Indian talent is too hard to manage. “They want first class tickets, business class for their entourage, hair and make-up every day,” she said, “it’s just too much to deal with.”
Tomorrow I’m meeting two inspiring Indian directors, both of whom happen to be women – Rima Das and Mira Nair. Watch this space for more on Cannes.
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