Online Controversy Rages in the US over Cannes
Controversy is raging in the US over Cannes – and whether the world's greatest film festival has relevance to American Cinema or not. James MacGregor has been examining the evidence.
Outraged debate, or what passes for it in American blogs, has broken out following assertions published by John Anderson in the New York Times, that the significance of Cannes, its awards, and its overall relevance carry no weight in America. David Poland, in his blog, more or less dismisses the festival and Anthony Kaufman, in his blog, says that Anderson in the New York Times, got it all wrong completely. He says...
“Sunday's New York Times offers a specious story, significantly lacking in research, about the value of Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or. While the article's central thesis is predicated on the obvious -- a Cannes prize doesn't mean much to the success of a movie in the U.S. -- it doesn't give any context for this reality. Frankly, a Cannes prize doesn't mean much in any country, nor does any award anywhere promise much (as David Poland notes in his dissection of the story, "Sundance has an even worse cause & effect record").”
Then Kaufman assembles his own ammunition in support of Cannes' relevance by recounting the films that have done well there and gone on to do terrific business internationally.....
“But if you look at Cannes winners past, the story is also incorrect to imply that Palme d'Or winners fare poorly in the U.S. While acknowledging one exception (Fahrenheit 9/11, 2004), what about all of the other successes to come out of Cannes: The Pianist, 2002; Dancer in the Dark, 2000; Secrets & Lies, 1996; Pulp Fiction, 1994; The Piano, 1993; Barton Fink, 1991; Wild at Heart, 1990; Sex, Lies and Videotape, 1989; Pelle the Conquerer, 1988; The Mission, 1986 -- and that's just in the last couple decades. In fact, going down the list, there are as many hits as failures: other winners include successes such as Missing, All that Jazz, Taxi Driver, M.A.S.H., Blowup, A Man and a Woman, La Dolce Vita, and so on.”
Kaufman then delivers his coup de grace, that actually, box office performance is only the start for any film. It is what follows on from that is even more important.
ENDURING CLUB OF FILMS
“And if not every single one of these Palme-winners broke box office records, their shelf-life on DVD is enormous -- an absolutely essential piece of the numbers that the Times story completely writes out of the equation. Now I don't mean to say that these films have done well because they won at Cannes. But it just so happens that Cannes winners generally belong to a club of films that endure beyond such facile analyses..”
Ouch! I guess Anthony Kaufman will be cancelling his subscription to the New York Times then.
We will leave the last word with Eugene Hernandez of Indiewire, who yesterday morning was packing to take the plane that will get him to Cannes where he will happily spend the next three weeks.
30,000 FILM PROFESSIONALS
“The fact is that the Cannes Film Festival remains the most important annual film event in the world. It is a showcase and marketplace for the entire international film industry that plays out in front of some 30,000 "professionals" (filmmakers, journalists, buyers, sellers, programmers, producers, and others) from around the world. I value Cannes because it will not only be my first chance to see a bunch of new films from both emerging and established filmmakers (in a theatrical setting that features some of the best sound and projection anywhere), but after the screening, I will have an opportunity to talk with many of those filmmakers about their work. Not to mention the business side which offers a chance to get a clearer picture of the state of the international film business than any other annual industry event. OK, now I need to finish packing my bags...”
OK Eugene, hope we didn't hold you up for too long there.
By the way, did you see our Essential Guide to Cannes?
I think you should pack a copy. You will find it here: