What Do We Lose When Cannes Is Canceled?

The Cannes Film Festival has been derailed a handful of occasions for the reason that inaugural version was postponed due to World War II. For essentially the most half, the present has gone on since 1946, however not this yr. The 73rd iteration, scheduled to start out May 12, isn’t any extra. Instead, in June, the pageant will launch an inventory of films that had been chosen for this yr, anointing them with the coveted Cannes label. Our critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott and our awards season columnist, Kyle Buchanan, all pageant veterans, replicate on what makes this occasion so important for film lovers.

So, Cannes is effectively canceled, with organizers hoping to regroup somewhere down the line. Manohla and Tony, you both know your way around the world’s most prestigious film festival. What is lost when Cannes is stricken from the calendar?

But it matters because, behind all the frantic photo calls and yacht parties and swanny red carpet marches is an almost religious devotion to cinema, an ardor for the art that isn’t snobbish or cynical. All kinds of movies show up in the main competition and the various sidebars, and even though some are destined to win prizes and catch the attention of the press, they are all given at least a moment of glory by the festival itself. There are few sights more touching to me than watching a first-timer walking up the Palais steps to their gala screening, walking the same path as Palme winners and pantheon auteurs.

MANOHLA DARGIS I have no doubt that Cannes — and most festivals and theaters and movies and filmgoers — will return. Certainly I’m rooting for the festival, which I’ve attended for years and love. You’re seeing some of the finest new movies in the world in one big gulp, which is thrilling and exhausting and crazy-making, just because you want to see everything and can’t. And because it shows so many premieres, you can discover them on your own. I assumed that “Parasite” would be good because, well, Bong. But at Cannes I saw it before everyone could tell me (and tell me) that it’s great. Going is a privilege, on many levels.

If it’s hard for Americans to grasp the importance of Cannes to the rest of the world, it’s because our isolationism extends to culture. It was exciting to see “Parasite” take off in the States, which happened in part because of the festival. It’s a staggering publicity generator, and the thousands of journalists who attended last year’s event seeded interest in the movie internationally, giving it terrific momentum that only increased as it played other world festivals. Disney can dominate opening weekends with just its brand. But movies like “Parasite” need festivals, and to go really big, I think they need Cannes.

BUCHANAN You’re both right about the way Cannes, for all its glamour, treats auteur filmmaking like a divine calling: When thousands of people are dressed to the nines in the audience of a three-hour, slow-cinema art film — and when they jump to their feet with an ovation afterward — you start to wonder if the French lack the words for “superhero” or “franchise” and are better off for it.

SCOTT In the past couple of years, the Cannes vs. Netflix querelle — yes, I’m going to pepper this with Gallicisms, just try to stop me! — has served as a piquant microcosm of the larger tensions within the global film industry. The French tradition of subsidizing and defending its cultural patrimony is often mocked by Americans in and out of the film business, but if I have to choose sides between France and monopoly-minded American tech companies, I’ll take France every time.

But there’s no doubt that le streaming as an economic and cultural force has been strengthened by the coronavirus, and that the question of whether Cannes will return plays into deeper uncertainties and larger anxieties about the future of cinema. Are people going to flock to Toronto and Venice in September? Will the Oscars be forced to make peace with Netflix and its ilk? Is moviegoing fated to become a quaint, niche pursuit, or one that involves a grave risk? I don’t think I’m the only cinephile experiencing a frisson of dread.

DARGIS I’m Team Cannes, too. I’ve been thinking about moviegoing a lot while in lockdown because I’m spending an inordinate amount of time in front of my TV (watching old Hollywood and a British cop show). There’s nothing like being forcibly kept home to appreciate the beauty of going out, including to cinemas. This has reminded me that while, like you both, I write about movies for a living, I don’t write enough about the experience of seeing them in theaters. But we should because it’s crucial to how we see and understand movies, and certainly how they affect us.

So, I stand up for films screened in theaters, too, and for Cannes (though sometimes while booing).

Source link Nytimes.com

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