|By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2002|
|Dr. Baehr describes what it was like at the 55th Cannes Film Festival.|
Coming back to the Cannes Film Festival year after year is an intriguing experience. Many of the people who staff the event and the merchants come back year after year, and their gracious attitudes make a working sojourn in Cannes seem like coming home. They are the heart of the festival and deserve commendation.
Even so, every year the tone of the festival changes. Last year, there was a surprising amount of morality and faith combined with the usual pushing the sexual envelope. Il Mestiere Delle Armi (Profession of Arms), No Man’s Land, Kandahar, Shrek, Taurus, and many others had a Christian or moral perspective or both. Even the dark sexual tragedy, La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher), was a cautionary morality tale. This year, Kenneth Turan, the primary movie reviewer at the Los Angeles Times defined 2002’s 55th Cannes Film Festival as the most political in many years. He notes in his Los Angles Times article for May 16, 2002 that:
Of course, Mr. Turan is right to a degree, although politics, especially leftist politics, is just a part of the political complexion of this year’s movie choices. In fact, for the most part, the common theme of most of the movies in the Palme d’Or competition is not just politics, but practical atheism. Perhaps, Mr. Turan means that there is a communist undertone to the festival, since, as Karl Marx intoned, communism is the ultimate form of atheistic, international socialism, but the atheism this year extends beyond political ideologies into a deeply held perspective, which is sad—the product of years of eroding the Christian foundation of Western Culture.
This scrupulous avoidance of faith and values may reflect the jury more than anything else. The jury consists of President of the Jury, David Lynch, Director; Régis Wargnier, Director; Claude Miller, Director; Raoul Ruiz, Director; Sharon Stone, Actress; Christine Hakim, Actress; Michelle Yeoh, Actress; and, Bille August, Director.
The Cannes Film Festival is not Hollywood. Although it is glamorous, it tries hard to be international and has very few Hollywood stars. Furthermore, it is packed with people from France who must find the festival to be their one chance of excitement in their life.
With regard to the famous red carpet which the executives, stars and celebrities walk up to enter the prestigious screenings, the crowd chose not to see these glamorous people close up on their own TV screens at home. Instead, they are riveted to the empty red carpet and things are so crowded that most people cannot see over the heads in front of them. Yet, they are thrilled at some of the glimpses.
However, the glitz and glamour are just part of the Cannes Film Festival. In the first place, this is a film market. People want the screenings and the reviews to promote the sale of their movies. This year the movie marketplace is down worldwide, so the sales screenings are often empty. Jeffrey Katzenberg screened Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron with a full orchestra conducted by composer Hans Zimmer, to get enough good buzz going worldwide for the movie. Also, George Lucas showed Star Wars II and tried to promote digital theatrical releases. However, the press gave negative reviews to his attempts at promoting the new technology.
The Palais houses the smaller distributors. The big players have suites in the hotels along the Croisette. Really exclusive sales meetings and parties occur on yachts in the harbor. Wherever the venue, the object is the same: sell your movie to other countries and to the public. Since atheism does not sell in the biggest marketplace of all, the United States of America, this year may not produce the results the distributors seek.
Even so, the Cannes Film Festival is an inviting place. The people are friendly. And, there is always an opportunity to witness to the Truth that sets people free from the confusions of this age.