Swirl of activity at Cannes

(From left) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'o pose on a pier. Jury president Cate Blanchett (above) arrives for the screening of Cold War at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Indian actress Deepika
Jury president Cate Blanchett (above) arrives for the screening of Cold War at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(From left) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'o pose on a pier. Jury president Cate Blanchett (above) arrives for the screening of Cold War at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Indian actress Deepika
(From left) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'o pose on a pier. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(From left) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'o pose on a pier. Jury president Cate Blanchett (above) arrives for the screening of Cold War at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Indian actress Deepika
Indian actress Deepika Padukone (above) at the screening of the film Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer Et Courir Vite).PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CANNES • Before the 71st Cannes Film Festival had opened on Tuesday, this tradition-proud event was in an uproar.

First, streaming service Netflix feuded with the festival and pulled its high-profile titles.

Then came some scheduling shuffling, the first in decades, which affects how and when attendees can watch movies.

The festival essentially wants to delay critics from beaming out their boos and jeers until after the official premiere, but the changes were so anxiously received that the festival sent a 1,400-word communique assuring attendees that all would be fine, promise.

Three days in, much seems the same or close enough. Here is an outline of the festival so far.

FEEL-GOOD EGYPTIAN LEPER FILM CHARMS FESTIVAL

The festival often takes a few days to get its groove on, and this year is no exception.

The movies have been fine if often familiar, including Yomeddine, a feel-good Egyptian road movie about a leper who sets off on a journey with a cherubic orphan nicknamed Obama that received a standing ovation.

The movie is from A.B. Shawky, a first-time director and NYU Tisch graduate who is going toe-to-toe with his former professor, Spike Lee, in the main competition.

In a backhanded compliment, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis said: "If Harvey Weinstein were still in business, this surely would be a contender next awards season."

BLACK PANTHER DIRECTOR 'NEVER IMAGINED' BEING ALIVE AT

30 Black Panther director Ryan Coogler said on Thursday he "never imagined" living long enough to make his groundbreaking superhero movie, having grown up in one of the most violent cities in the United States.

In Oakland, "death is constantly around us to the point where we are comfortable with it", he said at a masterclass he gave in Cannes, where he received a standing ovation.

Coogler, who celebrates his 32nd birthday this month, said: "When I turned 30, I almost had a crisis because I never imagined myself being that age; 25 is the magic number - you're either dead or in jail by that time."

On Thursday, the packed audience included Haitian film-maker Raoul Peck - whose documentary I'm Not Your Negro was nominated for an Oscar last year - and Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd.

Black Panther, featuring an almost exclusively black cast led by Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o, was screened on the beach in Cannes this week.

The Marvel blockbuster is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a wealthy, never-colonised utopia doing its own soul-searching about taking in refugees and subverting the stereotype of the poor African nation.

"The slave trade represented a type of death for us, the death of who we were. Who we are now was born when they strapped chains on our ancestors," Coogler said. His film was about reclaiming that history, he added.

His comments come amid a controversy over rapper Kanye West's description of the enslavement of African-Americans over centuries as a "choice".

VON TRIER'S PRODUCER VOWS TO STOP SPANKING STAFF

The producer of Danish director Lars von Trier has said he will "stop slapping a***s" after being accused of harassing his staff.

"I've always been a cheerful guy and I've been slapping the asses of guys and girls at the company for 20 years," Peter Aalbaek Jensen told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, adding he had never tried to have sex with any of the staff.

The Danish authorities are investigating claims by nine women who worked at Zentropa, the Copenhagen studio founded by von Trier and Aalbaek Jensen, that they were bullied, humiliated and sexually harassed.

Jensen's remarks came as von Trier - who has denied claims that he sexually harassed Icelandic singer Bjork on the set of his 2000 film Dancer In The Dark - is about to return to Cannes after being banned in 2011 for his remarks about Hitler.

Von Trier's new film, The House That Jack Built, will be presented out of the competition. The movie is about a serial killer who mostly targets women and stars Uma Thurman.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Swirl of activity at Cannes'. Print Edition | Subscribe