Zombie movie opens Cannes film fest

World | 15 May 2019 11:59 am

The Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday with the premiere of Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die,” passionate words from jury president Alejandro Iñárritu on U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for a Mexican border wall, and a director’s chair left empty in tribute to the late Agnes Varda.

It is the first time a zombie flick has opened the festival on the French Riviera. The film, starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton, opened the 72nd edition of the festival with a bloody and droll apocalyptic tale inspired by George Romero.

The opening ceremony began with a chair marked “Agnes V.” to commemorate the French New Wave pioneer, who died in March at age 90, and a performance of “Without You,” from Varda’s landmark 1962 film “Cleo From 5 to 7,” by the Belgian singer Angele.

Iñárritu, the Mexican-born filmmaker of “Birdman” and “The Revenant,” is the first Latin American to preside over the jury that decides Cannes’ top honor, the Palme d’Or. Addressing reporters earlier in the day alongside fellow jury members, Iñárritu drew a parallel between the rhetoric of Trump to that of the 1930s.

“We know how this story ends if we keep with that rhetoric,” said Iñárritu. “We think we are evolving with the technology and social media. It seems every tweet is a brick of isolation attached to ideological things and is creating a lot of isolation and paranoia.”

This year’s Cannes arrives with the usual swirl of celebrity and controversy. Among the starrier films debuting at the festival on the French Riviera will be Quentin Tarantino’s 1969 Los Angeles tale “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”

Also on tap are the latest from renowned auteurs Pedro Almodóvar, Terrence Malick and the Dardennes brothers. Also of interest will be the debut from Mati Diop, “Atlantique,” which marks the first black female filmmaker in competition in Cannes.

Last year’s Cannes saw 82 women, which represented the number of women directors to ever appear in competition in Cannes, protest for gender inequality on the festival’s famed red carpet steps. Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux signed a pledge promising to make the festival’s selection process more transparent and to push executive boards toward gender parity.

This year, there are four women in Cannes’ 21-film main slate, tying the festival’s previous high in 2011. For the first time, Cannes has revealed gender-based statistics on its submissions and selections, a measure of transparency that had been requested by 50/50X2020, the French sister group of Time’s Up. Frémaux defended the festival’s record, bristling at critics who have said Cannes isn’t progressing quickly enough.

“I’m looking forward to time when we come and we don’t have to say ‘the women directors’ and ‘as a woman,’” said juror member Kelly Riechart, the “Wendy and Lucy” filmmaker and a jury member

“People keep asking us what’s it like being a woman director,” said Italian filmmaker and Cannes regular Alice Rohrwacher, also a jury member. “It’s a bit like asking someone who’s survived a shipwreck why they’re still alive. Well, ask the person who built the boat.”-AP

 

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