What is The Cannes Film Festival?

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The festival takes place in the city of Cannes, located in the South of France, which previews a wide range of new films inclusive to all different genres from which international filmmakers, both up and coming and veterans, have their chance to wow the jury panel in one of the most publicized and highly acclaimed film festivals in the world.

The Palme d’Or

Otherwise known as the ‘Golden Palm’, this award is the Holy Grail of prizes for people in the movie business. So too is it presented like the Holy Grail, finished with 24-carat gold, hand cast in Geneva into a wax mold and positioned on a cushion of cut crystal, all placed together in a blue Moroccan leather case with white suede lining. The Palme d’Or is also a symbol of strength between the Swiss jeweler ‘Fairmined’ and the Festival. Without a doubt, it’s safe to say that the same amount of work that goes into making this prestigious award equates to the amount of work the winner of it has put into their film.

What are the awards?

The festival is broken up into two main categories:

Competition

This includes a lineup of 20 films that are all in the running for the notorious (pardon the French) ‘Palme d’Or’ award, given to Cannes’ best film, as chosen by a selected Jury. Last year, the Palme d’Or went to ‘Dheepan’, a French film by director Jacques Audiard’s, while the 2014 award went to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Turkish drama ‘Winter Sleep’. However, the Palme d’Or has also been taken home larger-scaled Hollywood films such as Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 ‘Pulp Fiction’.

Un Certain Regard

This is the award often exhibited to international debut filmmaker who display experimental techniques and ideas. This category is definitely a favorite of mine, as it proudly showcases lower budget and lesser known European Films, playing a central role in kick-starting European filmmakers’ careers on the international stage. Given the festival’s massive media coverage and attendance of Hollywood Big-shot promoting their upcoming projects, many small-time moviemakers are given the chance to wow the crowds and launch their films globally. Debut filmmakers are given the opportunity to be selected as one of the 20 films chosen for this category

Alongside the major two categories, there are another four slightly smaller, yet just as important category classes included in Cannes, and this year some bigger productions such as Steven Spielberg’s ‘BFG’ and Jodie Foster’s ‘Money Monster’ will be featured. These categories include:

Out of competition

Where films do not pass the certain criteria to be in the running for the Palme d’Or, but attain an honorable mention by the Cannes’ Committee.

Special Screenings

Which include films shown in a specially adapted environment, including ‘Hands of Stone’, entered as a special tribute to Robert De Niro.

Cinefondation

Which dedicates an entire category to short and medium-length films, exclusively produced by film students worldwide. This year 14 works of fiction and 4 animations have been selected after an initial submission from 2300 film schools.

Short Films

The films entered within this category, all get a chance at winning a special Palm d’Or, specially set for short films, to be given at the official awards ceremony, that is to be held on the 22nd of May, on the festival’s final day.

Our predicted frontrunners for the Palme d’Or

American Honey

Andrea Arnold’s epic look at an outcast teenage girl (Sasha Lane) who runs away from her troubled home to join a gang of misfits, traveling across the Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door. This film explores the concept of young rebels searching for their place in the world, one of which is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), as well as the fun they have along the way, raving at night, getting caught up with the law and of course, trying to understand their romances.

Toni Erdmann

German director Maren Ade follows up her acclaimed 2009 debut “Everyone Else” with this mixture of comedy and drama that has sparked positive reviews for its subtle emotions. The film looks at the practical joker Winfried (Peter Simonischek), who disguises himself as flashy “Toni Erdmann” to get his daughter Ines’ (Sandra Hüller) attention and change her corporate lifestyle. The father-daughter challenge reaches absurd proportions until Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life.

Loving

Staring Australia’s very own Joel Edgerton, Jeff Nichols’ ‘Loving’ celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of the interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, whose 1967 Supreme Court case overturned oppressive Virginia state laws, reaffirming the very foundation of the right to marry. Both actors Ruth Negga and Edgerton could also take home their own awards for their performances in this conflicting true story.

The Neon Demon

The horror/thriller from director Nicolas Winding Refn amplifies the lethal threat that aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) faces upon moving to Los Angeles. Her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed powerful women who will use any means necessary to get what she has. The trailer reveals a bleak and somewhat gory shadow that overcasts the supposed glamor of living the ‘LA dream’, which highlights an exciting plot that targets both a male and female audience equally.

I, Daniel Blake

The 79-year-old British director Ken Loach imparts the audience with a sympathetic tale of hardship for the English working class. After enduring a heart attack, middle-aged carpenter Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is in desperate need of help from the State for the first time in his life. During this struggling process, he crosses paths with a single mother Katie (Hayley Squires) and her two young children. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know some 300 miles away. Both with woes of their own find themselves in no man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy in modern day Britain. Loach is a previous Palme d’Or winner for his 2006 film “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”. His new film has been an early competition favorite, as well as being a serious contender for acting and screenplay prizes.

Who is the Jury?

The Cannes’ jury is comprised largely of filmmakers and actors who watch two films a day over 10 days of the 11-day festival. They then gather together to discuss their favorites before voting by secret ballot. This year specifically has been acclaimed for being one of the hardest years to predict the winner of the Palme d’Or in ages; so far, each day of screenings has brought another film that blows the presses’ mind, complicating the discussion of who is to win big. This year, the position of jury president was given to Australian director George Miller, taking over from last year’s presidents Joel and Ethan Coen.

However, the tough wait will be over on Sunday 22nd May, when the awards ceremony is held and where jury president George Miller will announce the final who takes home the memorizing Golden Palm.

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