Artistic freedom, fashion, feminism and oppression, the Cannes film festival is always something to watch out for. And this year too it was no different! Over the past ten days, films across the globe were screened and many turned up to witness the actors and filmmakers walking down the famous Red carpet.
For the last seven decades, the festival has witnessed a combination of glitzy, star-studded red-carpet premieres with long, exhausting days of screenings, meetings, networking, and late night parties.
This year is special like any other Cannes film festival as it holds on to the spirit of cinema in many aspects including that of actresses and woman filmmakers stealing the centre stage of action, and deployed their statement against degradation of female artists working on and behind the screen. In a protest, 82 women stood up against gender inequity in the film industry.
Led by Cate Blanchett and French filmmaker Agnes Varda on last Saturday, before the premiere of Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun, 82 women marched up the red carpet, stood on the stairs, locked arms, and turned to face away from the Palais des Festivals and toward the crowd. The number 82 was significant; it’s the number of films by female directors (including seven in mixed-gender teams) that have premiered in competition at Cannes in its 71-year history. By contrast, 1,645 films by male directors have had that same honour.
Another subject that was clearly on point was the movie made by Hollywood director Spike Lee against the oppression that faced by the black community in America, even in federal or law and order section of the society. His film BlacKkKlansman, a political assertion subtly against the Trump’s ironclad rule over the U.S. The film which is in the competition section running for Palme d’Or received an 8-minute standing ovation after its initial screening.
The film, which is produced by Get Out‘s maker Jordan Peele, stars John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace in the lead roles. Set in the early 70s, it follows Washington’s Ron Stallworth who, after becoming the first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, sets out to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan while posing as a racist extremist.
Another name that should be noted along with Spike Lee’s is that of Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. His Star Wars spin-off and the rap song ‘This is America’ becoming a surprise hit was a talking point among the celebrities of the red-carpet event.
And the question of artistic freedom coming to the light with two incidents that have happened. One is Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov, whose feature Leto has been selected for Competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, was not able to attend the event after his house arrest was extended. Though he was charged with a case of fraud against the government, his close associates say the film, which is a criticism of the communist government of Russia, subtly aimed at President Vladimir Putin and due to that he was put under house arrest last year and was extended without a date.
In the same question of actual expression of art, Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier’s gore movie The House That Jack Built was all over the place for its cinematic theme and the treatment of the subject of graphic violence which resulted in walks out from the audience.
Then there were silent objections and revolts against conventional systems and issues like child trafficking.
Another sensational move was from Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat who locked herself inside a cage to revolt against child trafficking in India.
But images and stories are always powerful, and throughout the history art, artists have been responsible for shaping the world. With a festival as influential as Cannes allowing some of its world stages to works, filmmakers, and movements that push back against systems and prejudices which keep trying to take away artists from their opinions and their honour, a stage like this will be able to capture the true essence of what Cinema is actually mean and thus sow the seeds of hope for a better tomorrow.
Image and Information Courtesy: Vox.com
Video Courtesy: Brut Cannes