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Report on 60th Cannes Film Festival
The Games of Cannes
by Mohammad Haghighat

Rule of the Game
Everybody knows that major film festivals, especially Cannes, are very tempting and glorify working records of a filmmaker or even national cinema of a given country. The first game in such festivals is accepting films and forwarding them to selection committee. If we won the first game, then we would be introduced to other games, which are not completely controlled by us. They follow complicated formulas and tactics most of which can be discovered with a little experience. However, sometimes the rules are disorganized and we must be ready for the next move. Another rule is that regardless of what happens, we must accept the result without controversy because it would not be to our benefit in the coming years. There are many examples from countries like Turkey, China, Germany and Iran. We must accept the rule that, for example, more than 6,000 films have been produced in more than 100 countries and a few of them have been admitted to various sections of the festival. We must not forget about festival games because those festivals can make a movie famous or vice versa. What you need to win games in Cannes is “chance, talent, and favoritism.” Threatening Cannes Film Festival will take you nowhere.
Few prominent examples can help us understand this. In 1981, Yol, the striking work of Yilmaz Guney and Serif Goren was admitted to competition section of Cannes, but the Turkish government officially demanded the French government not to screen the film and even its producer was threatened throughout the festival, so that, two bodyguards escorted him! The Turkish government failed in its effort and the film won Palm d’Or. A few years ago there was a big controversy in the Italian press after that country’s government wrote a letter to Cannes asking why no Italian films had been admitted. The same happened in Germany a year ago. Volker Schlondorff’s film was not accepted to competition section and its director was very angry though he had already won a Palm d’Or for The Tin Drum. To teach him a lesson, they admitted his Ulzhan simply to “Un Certain Regard” section. There are many similar examples.
These are the games of Cannes. Don’t go there if you don’t like it. Another policy at Cannes is that the selection committee will not accept any film they consider to be official or meant for publicity. Another Cannes game is that they look for new and innovative films which reveal political and social oppression; although Cannes is not as politicized as Berlin Film Festival. They did not accept Michael Moore’s new film, Sicko, to the competition section despite the fact that it has greatly promoted the French lifestyle. Another game in Cannes is that they are interested in discovering unknown cinema styles and will appreciate them. An example was 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu) from Romania which had been made on a modest budget of about 500,000 dollars. Its simplicity belittled glamorous American films which had cost 100 million dollars. Although the director was unknown and his country has no place in cinema industry, the film became world-famous overnight.
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