Amat Escalante is now three for three as he will be taking his third film, HELI to next week’s Cannes, but this is his first time in Official Competition. The screenplay for Heli was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters lab 2010 where it won the NHK Filmmaker Award. At that stage the logline was described: “In a small Mexican town, where most citizens work for an automobile assembly plant or the local drug cartel, Heli is confronted with police corruption, drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, love, guilt and revenge in the search for his father who has mysteriously disappeared.” Escalante is a Carlos Reygadas protege of sorts, he worked as Assistant Director on Battle of Heaven and they are boutique powerhouse collective through producer, Jaime Romandia’s Mantarraya Films. A die hard, impactful formalistic filmmaker, the weight of his films comes from audaciously rigid framing, startling compositions, and magnetic usually non pro actor performances.
Today’s kind of a big deal as the royal highness of world cinema, Festival de Cannes announced their Official Competition and Un Certain Regard film lineups. At the press conference Director General, Theirry Fremaux shared that 1850 feature films were submitted to this edition. Parallel sections, Critics Week and Directors Fortnight are yet to be announced. A through and through competition of auteurs, once in a while, the more relevant Official and Regard programs takes a chance on a well connected newbie. About Mexico, Fremaux said, “We are very glad to go on attracting and welcoming this country which has a strong revitalized cinematography”. And representing Mexico (South & Central America shut out so far):
Amat Escalante is now three for three as he will be taking his third film, HELI to La Croisette, but this is his first time in Official Competition. Los Bastardos and Sangre screened in Un Certain Regard. The screenplay for Heli was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters lab 2010 where it won the NHK Filmmaker Award. At that stage the logline was described: “In a small Mexican town, where most citizens work for an automobile assembly plant or the local drug cartel, Heli is confronted with police corruption, drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, love, guilt and revenge in the search for his father who has mysteriously disappeared.” A die hard and impactful formalistic filmmaker, the weight of his films comes from framing, compositions and magnetic usually non pro actor performances.
La Jaula de Oro (refers to a popular Los Tigres del Norte song about a family who crosses over to the states only to feel ‘trapped in the golden cage) directed by Spanish filmmaker Diego Quemada Diez is screening in Un Certain Regard. Quemada Diez is an AFI grad who has worked as camera assistant/operator with Cannes alums Ken Loach, Oliver Stone, Isabel Coixet, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spike Lee and Fernando Meirelles. This first feature project was developed at Cannes incubators L’Atelier and Cinefondation residence. Quemada Diez has spent ten years in Mexico and this story is described as a visceral migration story from Guatemala towards the United States. That it is shot in Panoramic (2:40) format will no doubt heighten the cinematic odyssey. Notably the filmmaker used over 600 real life undocumented immigrants to personify the story. A Machete production (Leap Year, Cannes 2010).
And in the CineFondation section – a program created in 1998 to inspire and support the next generation of international filmmakers, the short film program will feature Alejandro Iglesias Mendizábal (Abracadabra) with the wicked Grimm Bros sounding title, Contrafabula de una Nina Disecada (Fable of a Blood-Drained girl). A graduate of the CCC film school (think UCLA or NYU for film in Mexico City). The short film screened at last fall’s Morelia Film Festival – furthering the Morelia – Cannes relationship. Check out the FILM trailer below. And I take back my previous comment of the shut out of South America; this film school slate includes the short films, Asuncion by Camila Luna Toledo from Chile, and Mañana Todas Las Cosas by Sebastian Schjaer from Argentina.
A couple other interesting observations is that Valeria Golino, the sultry Italian Greek goddess of such classic films like Rain Main (and Hot Shots pt. Deux) is making her feature directorial debut with Miele (honey). Sofia Coppola is also three for three with her Bev Hills cat burglar themed movie, The Bling Ring.
All in all I feel it’s the usual elitist exclusive Cannes society club with new films by regulars Takashi Miike, Johnnie To, Paolo Sorrentino, Hirokazu Kore-eda and the Coen brothers. I can’t say the list on the whole excites me. I have never had the opportunity to go to Cannes so by the time I see the films, the hype that accompanies their bow is all but gone. However I am looking forward to seeing Nicolas Wending Refn’s latest, Only God Forgives. I’ve loved him since the pugilistic criminally twisted Bronson where I first met and fell in love with the brawny but sensitive Tom Hardy (who played Bane in Dark Knight Rises) I also enjoyed the oddly toned Drive with Ryan Gosling with whom he teams up with again here. As if there was any doubt that Polanski is safely ensconced and a respected member of the international arthouse club, he has two films showing; Venus in Fur in Official Competition, and Weekend of A Champion, a documentary about Formula 1 race car driver icon Jackie Stewart which Brett Ratner has picked up for distribution. It’s almost as if Ratner knew the aristocratic vintage Monte Carlo Grand Prix slice of history would tickle the french folks nostalgia they couldn’t help but to special screen it and give him a chance to rub on some high brow.
SNL has a five time member club. Gimmie a hot sec to google which one of these folks on the list have been to Cannes the most…….update: So far, The Coen brothers take the honors with their latest Inside Llewyn Davis marking their 8th appearance, and Johnnie To is close behind as his Blind Detective will mark his 6th time at Cannes.