Cannes Film Festival

Mixed reactions to Palme d'Or line-up

(From far left) Actress Cate Blanchett, jury president of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, with jury members Khadja Nin, Kristen Stewart and Chang Chen.
(From far left) Actress Cate Blanchett, jury president of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, with jury members Khadja Nin, Kristen Stewart and Chang Chen.PHOTO: REUTERS

CANNES • Critics have said the jury, including actresses Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart, has more A-list acting talent than the films - many from lesser-known European, Asian and African directors - vying for the top Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Solo: A Star Wars Story will be the only Hollywood blockbuster screened during the fortnight.

But others defend Cannes, saying this year's edition, which opened yesterday and runs till May 19, is the most political in years.

Amid the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Blanchett and Stewart could join actresses and women directors on Saturday in a protest in support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

The fact that only three of 21 directors in the running for the top prize are women - the same number as last year - has also rankled.

While admitting that Cannes "will never be the same again" after the Weinstein scandal, festival director Thierry Fremaux said he was against quotas.

Instead, he put Blanchett - one of the first to call out Weinstein - at the head of a majority-female jury, alongside a Weinstein victim, French actress Lea Seydoux.

But his surprise decision to lift the festival's seven-year ban on Danish director Lars von Trier has stoked feminist ire. Singer Bjork has accused von Trier of sexual harassment.

Pointedly, however, Mr Fremaux has not risked giving von Trier a press conference this time for his new serial-killer flick, The House That Jack Built, starring Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon.

Mr Fremaux was asked if Cannes was also at risk of losing its appeal in Hollywood, given the dearth of American movies this year.

"You should never judge on one year," he told a news conference, while adding that the famously harsh press corp at the Cannes festival - where movies are often booed during media screenings - could have "scared certain productions" away.

Still, with no less than a dozen films with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) themes and others tackling child abuse, male prostitution and DIY sex change, it has all the makings of a vintage year for scandal and controversy.

Indeed, Hollywood Reporter critic Scott Roxborough said Cannes remained "the No. 1 film festival for quality cinema worldwide" and that its selection of less commercial fare showed it is "going back to its roots".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Mixed reactions to Palme d'Or line-up '. Print Edition | Subscribe