Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


66th Cannes Film Festival – Palme d’Or Winner La Vie d’Adèle

WARNING: No cell phones, no texting, no computers, with young people speaking face to face during the making of the film with real dialogue.NOT Made in the USA.

By Moira Sullivan. 
In an unprecedented decision, the jury for the official competition of the 66th Festival de Cannes, led by President Steven Spielberg, awarded the French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche and French actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos the Palme d’Or for La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitre 1 & 2 (Blue is the Warmest Color). The prize was shared by all three, which is a confirmation that the onscreen performances were recognized as auteur work. Kechiche has proven himself a master of capturing the joy of youth on film, but equally the lead actresses of the film Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos command the screen with their raw, emotional performances as co-creators in this epic tale of two women in love. Based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, the film stood out among the other entries at Cannes primarily because of the creative use of the camera and editing but also the gestalt of these two exceptional actresses in screen space. The majority of film is shown in closeups and the editing aligns these spectacular shots into a cohesive story magnificently.
The story opens on the life of fifteen-year-old high school student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos). She has a brief but meaningless fling with a classmate ends after a one-night stand, which leaves the boy in tears. Afterward, Adèle realizes she is missing something. By chance, she finds herself attracted to the beautiful Emma (Léa Seydoux), a striking girl in her mid 20’s with dyed blue tinted hair. After a brief encounter on the street where Emma is walking with her girlfriend, Adele later dreams about her. Her literature class is reading about the anticipation of desire from the 18th century novel The Life of Marianne by Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, and this only serves to heighten her passion.
Kechiche is excellent in putting this essence on screen and Sedoux and Exarchopolous brilliantly help realize the ambition of the film. The actresses articulate many of the emotions of youth, which to the audience should be painfully familiar. Adèle marches in political rallies for worker rights, better education and gay pride. But her classmates’ comments are cruel when she is seen with Emma, the “tomboy”. Adèle goes to a gay bar, with a friend from school and not long after to a lesbian bar on her own where she meets Emma. An hour into the film Emma and Adèle spend the night. The sex scenes are explicit, passionate and joyful. The close-ups are so microscopic that you can see the tiny hairs on their skin.
Adèle aspires to be a primary school teacher, and Emma is a student at the School of Fine Art (École des Beaux-Arts). As their relationship develops, Adèle becomes an art model for Emma who calls her a muse. However, the differences between the two women become notable when it is time to meet their parents. Emma’s parents are acceptant of Adèle and Emma, but Adèle’s parents are unaware of their daughter’s relationship. The internalized homophobia that both women feel comes across at the dinner table. Furthermore, Adèle cannot introduce Emma to her friends after the bullying she received in school, but Emma has “cultured” art friends who nonetheless ask stupid questions, such as “is this your first time with a woman?”
Emma speaks with a friend at a party, a pregnant woman named Lise, who shares similar interests with her. Soon, she is telling Adèle to get an interest in life other than her. Emma’s world is high art culture, which differs from Adèle’s interests in primary school pedagogics and popular cinema. Emma begins to spend her evenings away discussing Egon Shiele and Gustav Klimt with Lise. And so, Emma and Adèle’s differences, which were the source of attraction, begin to polarize them and they drift apart.
Ellipses in the film time line are frequent during the decline of their relationship. Three years after Emma throws Adèle out of her home, they meet in a café. The sexual attraction is still there but Emma has a family now with Lise and her two kids. She admits she is no longer in love with Adèle. When Emma has her first art show, she invites Adèle. Lise reminds her how her presence is still in Emma’s paintings. The newer canvases in charcoal have a touch of commercialism. One of Emma’s friends claims that she is absent in her gaze in her latest work, perhaps now that Adèle is gone.
As the late French actress Maria Schneider said, “Film is the memory of our time” and to this one can add, the memory of our youth and our loves. Nowhere is that more evident than in La Vie d’Adèle. Echoing these sentiments, the Cannes critics, particularly the French, proved to be in love with the film and its characters. It is the kind of cinema that is appealing to a French audience with a strong frame of reference for literature and cinema, a predilection for good food and parties, and a vested interest in French education. Twelve out of fifteen critics cited in Le Film Français gave Kechiche’s film a Palme d’Or rating symbol.
La Vie d’Adèle is a narrative that compels the spectator to know more. At the press conference on May 23, Kechiche revealed there is enough material for two more films and is willing to put this into more chapters. In fact, he shot a total of 700 hours and cut it down to three. Both Sedoux and Exarchopolous said they are willing to go on with the story, and were surprised that so many  scenes were not in the final cut. It can be understood that further chapters will be assembled if Kechiche decides to do so.
Kechiche underlines that the film is about two people who are attracted to each other , like any other love story, and does not emphasize the implication of the sexual politics in this film. “It’s not good to delve or say anything about homosexuality”, said Kechiche at the press conference. Not only the director but also Sedoux and Exarchopoulos, who are both heterosexual, had little to say on the subject. The fact that gay marriage was hotly debated in France at the time the film was made was something Kechiche decided to avoid in Adéle, despite violent protests in the streets in Paris in April.
Kechiche has proclaimed that a revolution must contain a sexual revolution, so his film nevertheless goes a long way and makes a huge statement. As yet, he has not gone on record that gay marriage is a legitimization of same sex relationships as part of the revolution. Still, Emma and Adèle are two lesbians living in a heterosexual world, a matter the first official press conference at Cannes addressed, and as the film opens itself up to wide screen distribution, it becomes time for Kechiche and the co-creators of La Vie d’Adéle—Sedoux and Exarchopoulos—to take note.
Distributor Wild Bunch informs that the film has already been sold to the US and other countries and that the 179 hour runtime will remain intact. La Vie d’Adéle will be released in France on October 9, 2013.
Moira Sullivan is an accredited journalist at Cannes, and served on the Queer Palm Jury 2012. She is a member of FIPRESCI with a doctorate in cinema studies from Stockholm University and graduate studies in film at San Francisco State University.
Reprinted from Film International, published in the UK.


Udine Far East Film Festival honors Kim Dong-ho

The 15th Udine Far East Film Festival opened on April 19th with a great lineup of films from Southeast Asia. The Udine festival is the largest portal of films from South East Asia in Europe, and many of the films come directly from their premiere in their country or make their international debut at Udine and this year is no exception

This festival has a success formula written all over it, even if it feels the crunch of the economy and has to be frugal. The Autumn edition of the highly regarded Oxford journal Screen wrote about the Udine recipe for success in "Counter programming and the Udine Far East Film Festival". The authors regard the festival as a high quality festival because of how it programs festival films from Asia. The authors maintain that although a film from Asia is presented at an A-list festival such as Berlin, Cannes and Venice, it gets attention primarily because it comes from Asia, not because the film is popular and given critical attention in the country of origin. The article also emphasizes that vendors at A - list festival markets are not as informed about the DVDs or films shown in the Asian market as Udine. Udine's special talent, as noted in "Screen", is selecting members for their program committee specialized in a particular country in South East Asia.

Udine chooses film after the South Korean Busan International Film Festival in October and in the interim before Cannes and Venice through special contacts from their festival committee. This makes it a special niche market for new Asian films. They also have a partnership with Busan and Venice Film Festival regarding these choices. The former head of the Venice Film Festival, Marco Muëller, is a European expert in Chinese literature so the Veneto region of which Udine and Venice became a fertile source for new films from Asia for the European and North American markets.  Many films screened at Udine have not been shown before on the festival web.

The directors often come with their films to Udine and the festival has made directors such as John Woo, Johnny To,Tsui Hark, Takeshi Miike, and Miike Kitano known in Italy.

Screen points out that the Udine audience has become in fact good experts on films from Asia, which has been demonstrated through the DVD / book market at the festival where people can buy books on Asian cinema, and films that have been shown at previous festivals.

At the 65th Cannes (2012), a special "Thai Cinema Night" was arranged for Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, an established actress. There were many programmers and marketers interested in this event. Trailers from Thai films screened at Udine were present. An actress known in Udine, Penpak Sirikul ("It Gets Better" - 2012) was on the panel for the event and as well as director Tom Waller who made – “Mindfulness and Murder” from 2012. Most people who attended the event were not aware of these films, directors and actors, so the Udine portal is confirmed as an important threshold for Europe to see fresh films from Southeast Asia.

This year the European premiere of Ip Man The Final Fight closely follows its theatrical release in Hong Kong on March 28th The setting is in postwar Hong Kong, where the Wing Chun Grandmaster, Ip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee is challenged by rival kung fu styles and must fight one last time.

Anthony Wong Chau-Sang plays Ip Man and the film is directed by Herman Yau who did the first Ip Man, the legend is born.

This year there are also three wold premieres from Japan:

Maruyama, The Middle Schooler by Kudo Kankuro , Angel Home by Tsutsumi Yukihiko, and It's Me, It's Me by Miki Satoshi who guests the festival with super pop idol Kazuya Kamenashi otherwise known at Kame, a 27 year old Dancer, singer, actor, television personality,and radio host

Other highlights this year include A Story Of Yonosuke by Japanese director Okita Shuichi who made the brilliant Woodsman and the Rain (2011)  about a film crew and young director who asks a woodman to stop sawing down trees in order to finish their shoot. The Bullet Vanishes, is a Chinese detective story set in the late nineteenth century directed by Derek Yee with an all-star cast including Lau Ching-wan and Nicholas Tse. There is also the Hong Kong action Cold War by Longman Leung and Sunny Luk, and Lost In Thailand by actor/director Xu Zheng, who holds a box office record for Chinese cinema in mainland China 
This year Golden Mulberry for Lifetime Achievement goes to Kim Dong-ho,  the South Korean director of the Busan Film Festival held in South Korea, which is called the "Cannes of the East".

Kim Dong-ho also presents a short film this year that was featured at the Berlin Film Festival about a jury who deliberates about the best films for a festival, a subject close to home.

The Udine festival ends on Saturday April 27th. Long live Udine!

©Reprinted from Movie Magazine International, broadcast April 23, 2013.


The Revolution Will Be Twitterized

Established Mainstream Media vs Twitter News Snippets?
"We know from crisis communication research that people typically search for corroborating information before they take a corrective action—their TV tells them there's a tornado brewing and they talk to relatives and neighbors. And now they look at Twitter."  Bill Braniff, Executive Director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism.
"I have been following my friend's Facebook who is near the scene and she is updating everyone before it even gets to the news".  Email sent during Boston Marathon.

The way we get our news is changing. Paper newspapers are going digital. Digital subscriptions have forced newsprint to come up with inventive ways to package news. Nothing seems to last for long since it is impossible to compete with the immediacy of digital information. Even reading the entire paper in digital format is time consuming. 
Twitter is becoming the news preference.
Marcus Messner, a communications professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the rash of mainstream media errors [of Boston Marathon bombing news coverage] stemmed at least in part from pressure to compete with fast-flowing social media. 
"If you look at Twitter, the news snippets on the events are a lot more advanced than what you're seeing on websites or even what you're seeing on the air," Messner said. "Twitter, especially, has put a lot more pressure on news organization to get it out fast."

Social media is changing everything, that is the need for quick, cinematic messages that may or may not be accurate, information that can be skimmed in a heartbeat, and forgotten in a nano second. The paradigm shift awaits for the entire work force to adapt to the digital revolution. Standing with your pitchfork in protest as the agrarians did during the industrial revolution will not matter.

The revolution IS digitalized and will continue.

The Boston Marathon Patriot Race

The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the world that began in 1897 as a patriot race. For the 117th race, over 23 thousand  runners from 92 countries were suddenly paralyzed by two young Chechnyan men with homemade bombs and IEDs.  Major gunfights in the neighborhoods of Boston put Watertown on curfew for a day. The two young men were discovered through surveillance cameras and personal digital images.  The race and manhunt was relayed around the world through mediated images. The BBC reported from someone's apartment in Watertown hooked up on Skype. The primitive weapons of two sociopaths contrast strongly with the electronic and digital surveillance. This is definitely symbolic of living in a world of opposites.

Social Media and the Boston Bombings

From Palestine to Boston
The Boston bombings were real. They were also mediated. The entire world was on live feed as the manhunt began and there was enormous support everywhere. This event is symbolic of how we deal with a real event and how far reaching its grasp can become. As much as I am irritated by the power of two corporate social media empires that have enslaved young people and diminished personal contact, this has become part of the world we live in. In Sweden the major papers report EVERY DAY about who twittered what and almost EVERYONE in mass transport is on their EYEPHONE (iPhone) in a PC society. And here I am on Blogger because I want to connect my thoughts to this vortex of mediated images.....
I am a part of it all too.

© 2013 - Moira Sullivan - Publication Date: 04/20/13
CinéFemme Forum


Créteil Films de Femmes Celebrates 35 years

35 th Year Poster by Karine Saporta 
The Créteil International Women’s Film Festival, which was held from March 22 to 31 honored veteran filmmakers and actresses who have attended previous festivals such as Margareta Von Trotta, Suzanne Osten, Mira Nair, Ulrike Ottinger, Agnes Varda, Carmen Maura, Maria Schneider and Anna Karina. 
Jeanne Balifor
The guest of honor this year was Jeanne Balifor, an actress unknown outside of Europe who selects films that are noteworthy for their extraordinary themes.  L´Age d´Ellen (Germany 2009), (The Age of Ellen) by the German director Pira Marais was screened for the occasion on Day 2 about a flight attendant (Jeanne Balifor) who decides to abandon her career after an incident in Africa when a leopard on the landing field is sedated by an animal rights activist.
Youth from the Créteil high schools and university are involved in the festival, documenting the festival on film teams, and the government supports the festival. During the year, the festival creates video workshops for them with selected themes and their films are screened in the Créteil Prefecture.
Nayat Valaud-Belkacem 
The new “Minister of Women”, Nayat Valaud-Belkacem in François Hollandes cabinet, visited the festival on Day 3 and proclaimed how important the Créteil event was. “Even the Lumière Brothers had a sister”, she declared. In the festival catalogue, she was generous in supplying ample statistics defying the myth equality has been reached by women in France: “Five percent of classical concerts are directed by women; 90% of the national dramatic theatres are directed by men; 4% of operas are directed by women, and 13% of the technicians in cultural arena are women. For the world of cinema, it is the same”, wrote Valaud-Belkacem.
Créteil nevertheless devotes itself to “the privileged exhibition of film directors around the world; it has become over time the only professional event on a major international auteur cinema long discriminated against and poorly dispersed”. It is a festival supported by both the Ministry of Culture in France, and the Creteil borough. Director Jackie Buet has been with the festival since 1979.

An invitation to the “L’Étrange” or Strange Film Festival in Paris featured two films by French filmmaker Angélique Bosio.
The first was the world première of a documentary about a virtually unknown French designer– Fifi Chachnil. In Pretty en Rose (Pretty in Pink). Fifi is known for designing fashionable lingerie and attire for women and has worked with filmmakers such as the gay team of Pierre and Gilles. Bosio spend six years making the film which she also successfully crowdfunded in part.
Bosio’s “Llik your Idols” from 2007 was also screened about the Cinema of Transgression movement of the 80’s coined by the American Nick Zeddfilms which were inexpensively underground films created for shock value, often having a humorous effect.
On the final evening of the festival was a special event called an ‘avant première’ of Margareta Von Trotta's biopic  “Hannah Arendt”. Barbara Sukorow plays the German American political theorist. Arendt wrote several important books and also covered the trial of Eichmann as a reporter for the New Yorker. She was critical to how the trial was conducted and a large part of Von Trotta’s film treats this. 
The international jury selected Hemel as the best feature film of Créteil festival this year.
Grand prix du Jury Meilleur long métrage fiction
Hemel by Sacha Polak (Netherlands 2012):
The story of a woman who is lost in a series of relationships and whose father soon becomes seriously interested in a new woman, which shakes Hemel’s foundation.
Honorable mention. Mention special. The Mirror Never Lies by Kamila Andini (Indonesia, 2011):
The story of an Indonesian mother Tayung and her 12-year-old daughter Pakis whose husband is missing at sea. The film is set in the Coral Triangle and portrays the lives of the Bajo people today
Public prize for feature film. Prix du Public Meilleur long métrage fiction
Inch’Allah by Anaïs de Barbeau-Lavalette (Canada, 2012)
The story of Chloe, a young Canadian obstetrician working in a makeshift clinic in a Palestinian refugee camp of the West Bank.
Public prize for best documentary. Prix du Public Meilleur long métrage documentaire
Même un oiseau a besoin de son nid (Even a bird needs a nest) by Christine Chansou and Vincent Tritignant-Corneau (France, 2012).
The film about one million Cambodians who have lost their homes to make way for commercial development, which elicited a massive protest led by women.
Best feature, Jury Youth Prize. Prix du jury Graine de Cinéphage
Sac de Farine  (Sack of Flour), Kadija Leclere Tunisia, 2012): the story about a young girl in Belgium whose father one day arrives at her school to take her to live in Morocco. She grows up learning how to sew and knit rather than study math science and art. One day everything changes.
Créteil is clearly up to date, and defies the protocol of rival festivals with its special programming criteria. After 35 years the festival remains a maverick in the arena. 


Annette Funicello was the darling of the original Mouseketeers

Annette Funicello was the darling of the original Mouseketeers


Romanian drama 'Beyond the Hills' sets lesbian characters back years

Romanian drama 'Beyond the Hills' sets lesbian characters back years

Beyond the Hills

The award for one of the most backward portraits of lesbians in recent film history would have to go to "Beyond the Hills" opening in San Francisco March 15. The film is set in a Romanian convent where a young woman comes to visit her past lover after working in Germany. They had plans to live together and Alina (Cristina Flutur) was even saving up to buy land for a home. But Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) decides she doesn't want to leave the monastery with her and Alina flips out.

Worst lesbian onscreen characters in recent years; Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, best actress award at Cannes 2012.

The "Father" and "Mother" as they are called of the monastery do a "pray in", chaining Alina to a wooden board in a bizarre sort of exorcism. The treatment raised the eyes and ears of critics in the recent Cannes Film Festival and it was considered a front-runner for the Palme d’Or. You could either love it or hate it. The film is an indictment on the religious and medical persecution of "hysterical" women, who usually have some background that qualifies them to be "hysterical", as in this case.
The actresses in the film, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, shared the award for best actress but the consensus of the critics is that this was not an exceptional Cannes festival year.
Director Christian Mungiu won the best screenplay for the film and this must have been because of the cinematography that adorns this barren story.
To create a lesbian couple where only one of the two is willing to admit it, and the other in the worst throws of unrequited love keeps hurling herself at a religious fanatic, her former girlfriend, is a screenplay nightmare considering all the inroads that have been made about lesbian characters in recent years. It would be well to avoid Romanian monasteries for the adventuresome lesbian of today. Run for the hills! There are no good female role models in the film either, where nuns try to remedy the two girls and get Alina to calm down and pray to God to be relieved of same sex love. All rely on the priest who is the father figure of the convent and who tries to be a father to the wayward lesbians amidst his Christian colony.
Not even the jury of the Queer Palm felt this picture of a closeted lesbian and a victimized love addict was strong enough to motivate an award in opposition to the ideas of the official jury. Take note that jury decisions at film festivals are arbitrary but the Cannes awards for this film were eye-opening.


'Silver Linings Playbook' gives Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar

By Moira Sullivan

When Jennifer Lawrence was asked to be on the Actor’s Studio she declined claiming she has no 'method' of acting.  She has played strong women in 'Winter’s Bone' and 'The Hunger Games', and now in 'Silver Linings Playbook'. Since declining to be interrogated by the caustic James Lipton she may inspire many young actors who haven't had a formal acting, singing and dancing education from the minute they were born.  There are some like Lawrence who are creative souls that are born to act.

At 22 Lawrence has made uncanny remarks that reveal introspection and wisdom. Her take on life is refreshing and her sense of humor is endearing. At the Oscar backstage press conference she remarked in gest that journalists, all issued with numbers, were taking turns making fun at her, such as if she worried that success had come too soon. "I do now", she answered clearly taken aback by the question.
In a recent interview she reveals she doesn't like to talk about herself, and that it is not healthy to do this all the time. At home she may wear the same clothes three days in a row. She also feels the penetrating eyes of the paparazzi and knows her personal freedom has been clipped. It is a bit scary to see what the fashion designers and photographers are doing with her much like Kristen Stewart where she is asked to pose as personas such as for Dior that are very much unlike the person she appears to be in her interviews. Will fame change Jennifer Lawrence? It probably will if she doesn't have good people looking out for her. This brings to mind the truthfulness of the comments of Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes who said there was a camera in her face from an early age.

"Silver Linings Playbook" directed by David O Russell is moving and engaging. Two misfits who are taking medication for depression - Tiffany (Lawrence) and  Pat (Bradley Cooper) meet while jogging. Pat has been issued a restraining order towards his girlfriend and now lives at home with his parents. Down the street lives Tiffany, the widow of a local who took out her grief by sleeping with the male and female staff at her job and was consequently fired.  Tiffany promises to get a letter to Pat's girlfriend but wants something in return -  that Pat enter a dance contest with her.

The yin and yang of the film with complementary opposites is fairly simplistic and geared for a general audience. Dance will help make Pat feel but his father played by Robert De Niro, likes to bet on football games. He has been banned from games since he fights but wants his son to go to games for him and improve his betting odds with his neighbor. It is not hard to figure out the roots of Pat's depression growing up with this father.

Russell puts Tiffany center stage and the clever young woman suggests a bet to see if the Eagles can beat the cowboys and that she and Pat will get a score of 5 from the judges at the dance competition.
Lawrence was promoted for the Oscar by Harvey Weinstein and as she admitted at the Golden Globes she asked him "who she needed to kill" for the part. It is clear that producers push their talent for awards which increases their box office receipts. It's not altogether fair to Lawrence who shows incredible acting acumen in the film and is the lynchpin to all the other characters, even outshining Bradley Cooper.

With this award, unlike Anne Hathaway's fifteen minutes of screen space in "Les Misérables"that brought her a supporting actress Oscar, Lawrence is destined for great parts. Hopefully she won't be pigeonholed into playing women with mental problems as the result of the award, which often happens with an Oscar winning performance. One need only look to Meryl Streep to realize that it doesn't have to go this way, and one of the reasons why she is so highly regarded in the motion picture industry. "The Hunger Games" will continue and Lawrence knows what will happen here, but she is such a talented, insightful and resourceful actress that her future roles will be very exciting to follow.  The world needs more young women like Jennifer Lawrence and her Oscar is also a nod to all of us for choosing someone like her to represent our ideas about life.
© 2013 - Moira Sullivan - Date: 02/26/13