(4 / 5)
Upon announcing the competition lineup, Frémaux noted that his team purposely picked lesser-known films rather than went with the big names. The final lineup reflects that sentiment with only a handful of Hollywood films – only 2 compared to say, 2012, where 7 films produced by the States premiered In Competition and a list with many new faces.
The main narrative during the event revolves around the ongoing dispute between Cannes and Netflix. As Frémaux mentions, Cannes established a rule this year saying films must receive French theatrical distribution if they want to be eligible to premiere in the Competition lineup. The rule prevents Cuarón’s Netflix-backed Roma from premiering in competition and as a result, Netflix pulled out all their films, most notably Roma and Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind. The Mexican film would later claim the Golden Lion at Venice and become a major player at that year’s Oscar.
The war-of-hate from Harvey Weinstein that sparked the #MeToo movement also casts a shadow to the festival. It tied to the event where 82 film industry women paraded the red carpet to protest gender inequality. For its 71 years history only 82 films directed by women have been in Cannes’ Official Competition. It also happened on the day when this very blog came into existence. It’s fitting that the Festival follows this with the screening of The Girls of the Sun – a feminist film about women’s struggle and empowerment.
About the Palme D’or shortlist, it’s another strong year. There are some install classics – you can read below to find out. But more importantly, all these 21 films are very close in terms of quality, making it an exciting year where I can argue that every film has its merits to be included in the lineup. If I have one minor objection, it’d be that the French selection isn’t strong, as you can see below where they placed at bottom of my list.
It’s interesting to note that at the time of the event, there were 2 directors In Competition list placed under house arrest for making films their governments despise (Jafar Panahi and Kirill Serebrennikov). I feel it makes sense then that this programme has 3 road movies on the list (3 Faces, Yomeddine, Carpenaum). It is, after all, a reach for freedom and a rebellion against conservative social norms (all 3 films touch that issue). Realism is back in fashion in this 2018 edition, utilized by nearly half of this list, with documentary-like realism (Carpenaum, 3 Faces, At War), neo-realism (Ayka, Dogman, Yomeddine) and even magical-realism (Happy as Lazzaro). As a result, this list introduces us to many lesser-known and non-professional cast, most notably the acting winners Samal Yeslyamova (Ayka), Marcello Fonte (Dogman), the child actor Zain Al Rafeea in Capernaum and the disabled actor Rady Gamal in Yomeddine.