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Newsnight Review special from Cannes

Sarah McDermott | 17:17 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

Here's Kirsty Wark to tell you what's coming up in Newsnight Review tonight:

Hello from Cannes,

We are always thinking of language to convey the excitement of the film festival, and I confess, that in the past, I may have been guilty of hyperbole, but this time it is for real.

2009 is a truly exciting Festival - great films, coruscating criticism of a major director, diabolical films, tiny films with "un grand coeur", and a huge change in the atmosphere wrought by the global recession.

There are fewer Americans in town, and on the great gin palaces on the water, and so there is a more European feel to the Festival, complimented by the tone of the films in competition.

Natalie Haynes, Paul Morley, Sarfraz Manzoor and I will be discussing the contenders for the Palme d'Or, including:

Cannes super fan Quentin Tarantino's World War II Spaghetti Western Jewish revenge fantasy fairy tale, Inglourious Basterds, which for me was one of the most exhilarating films of the Festival.

A Prophet, a French prison thriller starring the amazing Tahar Rahim as a young Muslim prisoner tied up with the Corsican mafia;

Jane Campion's beautifully designed story of the doomed romance between Keats and Fanny Brawne, Bright Star;

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock, one of the few films ever to revisit the most famous musical moment of the hippie era;

Eric Cantona's ghostly character in Ken loach's Looking for Eric;

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist, his story of death, loss and genital self-mutilation which has caused the most controversy at Cannes, and which we hear will have to be severely edited before it can be released in most territories, such is the distressing nature of some of the scenes;

and Pedro Almodovar's latest movie with Penelope Cruz, the film within a film, Broken Embraces.

Apart from all that we have been to see Terry Gilliam's keenly anticipated The Imaginarium of Dr Paranassus this morning which is an extravaganza of CGI and which features Heath Ledger's final performance before his death.

Natalie, Paul, and Saf have been ducking and diving around other films too and will be delivering some of their top tips.

One result of the global recession is that apparently it has been easier to get "facetime" with the financiers who are here.

Last night we spoke to one Irish Producer, Shane Whelan of OnePunch films who has managed to get funding for a Manga film on the basis of a short promo, which I saw and it looked terrific. He said he had spoken to five potential backers - and when he made it onto the yacht... Bingo!

There have been some great feelgood moments here, not least the joie de vivre surrounding the ultra low budget Charlie Noades RIP, featuring a cast of Liverpool characters (a la Looking for Eric) written by and starring Neil Fitzmaurice from Pheonix Nights.

Their beachfront party, sponsored at the last minute by a Liverpool lawyer, was a raucous family affair and the perfect antidote to the starlet-spangled foyers of the five star venues... which look so "derniere siecle".

We're at the same beach front venue, the British Film Council Pavilion tonight. I hope you'll be with us, Kirsty.

You can read Paul Morley, Natalie Haynes and Sarfraz Manzoor's accounts of their Cannes experiences here.


  • Comment number 1.

    "Cannes super fan Quentin Tarantino's World War II Spaghetti Western Jewish revenge fantasy fairy tale, Inglourious Basterds, which for me was one of the most exhilarating films of the Festival."

    Revenge for what?

  • Comment number 2.

    Kirsty I would love to be with you in cannes tonight, please send the tickets to

    (moderated out before you got the chance)

    Otherwise have a great time. No doubt like most mere mortals I will catch one or two of the films some time in the future and wonder if I will ever get my time in the sun with the stars.

    I'm too depressed to watch you tonight now!!



  • Comment number 3.

    Just as an after thought , take Paul Mason with you next time, poor paul is slumming it in mongolia in hotels that charge by the hour and have cigarette burns in the matress in pursuit of the consequences of the global economy (is it me or is there a potential palm'dor winning movie in that somewhere?).

    I think his northern economics editor take on Terry Gilliam's keenly anticipated 'The Imaginarium of Dr Paranassus' would be alot of fun and also he would be your best friend forever afterwards becuase he would really enjoy it and not have to pretend that it 'par for the course' attending cannes in order to appear chic ( northerners cant do chic as a rule).

    Just an Idea, If paul cant make it next year I am sure i can think of another northerner who could:).. but keep me away from the champagne.


  • Comment number 4.

    Kirsty I do wish that I could be with you in Cannes but the weather has not been that kind in the south of France so I will content myself with a large drink and hope that I can stay awake for the duration of the programme, I am also glad that the beeb has not concerned itself over greater belt tightening as your excursions to Cannes is the one item that should not be culled as it is high quality, they even supply a wind machine off set to give the impression of the that's class

  • Comment number 5.

    This is on a par with paying for Steen's duck island.
    I do not understand the benefit gained by the licence fee payer in sending this crew to Cannes; will their opinions sway anyone to watch or avoid what is offered?
    There are so many ways now of viewing the offerings that NN could save us all some money.
    I like Cannes personally, but avoid it like the plague when "events" like the Film Festival take over the town; being there now is really so "derniere annee" as it's swamped by freeloaders and liggers on expense accounts/licence fee money.
    Time for a re-think, NN.

  • Comment number 6.

    Whilst Kirsty enjoys yet another venal dose of Jewish/Free-Market propaganda/pornography c/o Hollywood in Cannes, we get an apology from Israel for provocative propaganda 'mistake' on the London underground and two evolutionary psychologists vent their ire over what's really going on.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have just watched the Newsnight report on the Cannes Film Festival - has Kirsty Wark been to one party too many? The discussion went , sometimes out of control and at times you could hardly understand what she was on about. The antics of those on the beach, behind, were more interesting.

  • Comment number 8.

    Critic describing director: "I think he's an attention seeker"

    I guess nobody would go to see his film otherwise? (read Lynn and MacDonald instead ;-)

  • Comment number 9.

    yes paul gets the short straw a lot. a day trip to wigan, latvia in the snow and now pig iron production in the chinese outback version of middlesbourgh.

    cannes just appears like a pampered bubble of wealthy introspection writ large on the screen because they have the money to do it? If something is art is must have a benefit. A benefit that is greater than just enrichment of its makers? so it appears there was very little art and much that was pretending art. Like teenagers pretending they are over 21 to get into a club.

    the comical part is the NN earnestness as if trying to whisk water into a thick cream?

  • Comment number 10.

    Tell you what: the Monaco Grand Prix is just along the road. Take a few more quid out of our licence fees and REALLY spoil yourself.

    As for the pretentious "Review Special": you don't mind if I press the jenson buttons?

  • Comment number 11.

    for those who wish to be reminded how to create the arts of comedy and tragedy as initiated by the ancient greeks try this lecture

    The Tragic Element in the Comic and the Comic in the Tragic

    followed by the ones on analogy

  • Comment number 12.

    if one wants drama then the uk has been financially wasted for a generation [anyone over 40 will probably be dead before the debt is paid off?] and now parliament is being wasted. is this a punishment? if so what could have provoked it?

    what did parliament do that was so bad? or in other words what collective states of mind opened the door to the destruction of the british state?

    we know some of the false beliefs. the false belief in market fundamentalism. the false belief in golden souls who can tell lies to the public to improve their virtue through conflict. the false beliefs in appeasement of those who treasure worthless traditions that entrench financial injustice.

  • Comment number 13.

    bookhimdano (#12) "what did parliament do that was so bad? or in other words what collective states of mind opened the door to the destruction of the british state?"

    The Austrian School of neo-liberal (anarcho-capitalist) economics which Thatcher was such a fan of via Hayek, is extreme in how far it goes in opposing regulation and government per se. Is it any surprise that the Telegraph has been leading this campaign?

    As the opposite of anarchism is nationalism/statism, perhaps the media should get Nick Griffin on TV and ask him directly about the UK's ethnic minorities and his party's polcies in general, as prima facie the BNP's policies on immigration and treatment of ethnic minorities are not racist given they're only talking of voluntary repatriation.

    The discrimination against the BNP is a little alarming under the circumstances as it makes one wonder what the main (fundamentally anarchistic) parties (and C of E) are so frightened of... Could it be the spectre of statist Old Labour?

  • Comment number 14.

    A bit late but are we allowed to discuss the critics appearance on 'Newsnight from Cannes'. With all the beautiful clothes, scenery, etc., WHY is Paul Morley allowed to shame the UK by his appearance? I find I cannot concentrate on ANYTHING being said when he is on the programme, (at any time). He MUST offend others - I canot be alone in wishing to send him home to wash, shave and change into anything other than deadly black, (hiding what??). all the time. His appearance is a disgrace. Can't the programme find others who can proffer these rather silly opinions & leave him on the radio? If HE sees this, (& I'm sure he won't), maybe he could explain his 'look' - what is it meant to convey?

  • Comment number 15.

    squirrel8999 (#14) Maybe he'd say something along the lines that what he has to say is what's important, not how he looks? Whilst that may be hard for avid Cannes and celebrity-loving narcissists in general to appreciate, it's an idea which could catch on in our current self-obsessed and theatric times.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why no coverage by the review panel of what appears to be the popular favourite 'Fish Tank'?

  • Comment number 17.

    Congratulations to the entire review team for their most completely inadequate coverage yet! Neither of the main prize winners, White Ribbon and A Prophet, got little more than a cursory mention in the panel's discussions, and Jury-Prize winner Fish Tank got none at all even though it was one of the buzz films at Cannes, and Katie Jarvis was one of the hottest stories.
    Kirsty, you should be heartily embarrassed that in the beach vox pop during the closing credits Fish Tank got three mentions out of five as a potential winner... Next year save yourselves a lot of time and money and ask the punters on the Croisette what's going on.
    Two other tips: Turn up when the festival starts, not four days into it, so you can review all the main contenders; and bring back someone who actually knows what they're talking about, namely Mark Kermode and his daily video blog.


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