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Day two in Cannes

Razia Iqbal | 18:36 UK time, Thursday, 14 May 2009

fishtank.jpgWhy is it that Cannes audiences love gritty realism? Is it because the glitz and glamour outside is just so excessive that inside, on the cinema screens, they prefer a truer picture of the world?

I wondered about this contrast after a screening of British film Fish Tank, which is in competition for the Palme D'or. The story of a fifteen-year-old girl (played by newcomer Kate Jarvis, who was cast after being seen arguing with her boyfriend at Tilbury Station) whose life changes when her mother's new boyfriend moves in, it is unrelenting in its portrayal of poverty and the hopelessness of the central characters' lives.

Nonetheless, the press audience cheered and clapped at the end.

Among the British directors beloved here are Mike Leigh and Ken Loach - and they are hardly known for their upbeat visions of the world. Okay, I know Mike Leigh had a recent success with Happy Go Lucky and, this year, Ken Loach is bringing a bit of magical realism to the Croisette with his Eric Cantona story, Looking for Eric. But both these directors made their reputations with serious, and often grim, portrayals of society. Andrea Arnold, who directed Fish Tank, seems to be following in their wake.

On a lighter note, I spoke to the new Doctor Who today. Matt Smith is in Cannes promoting a short in the Critics' Week competition. The film is called Together and the experience has drawn him to the form. He told me he wants to make a short film one day. and maybe even go on to to direct a feature and bring it to Cannes.

So, for all those fans desparate to see him as the new Doctor, it is clear he is an actor refusing to have his career defined by any role, no matter how big a star it makes him.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think you are right. There is something very odd about glamorous press junkets that revolve around this kind of thing. I don't think the art is at fault at all. But the mechanisms surrounding it are thrown into relief. I have never been to Cannes, but I have been to the Venice Biennale. In 2007, the theme in the Arsenale, was overridingly, bludgeoningly, WAR. Yet, outside, it was all about parties and networking, and the ostensibly political art never travelled anywhere, which felt, as it should do, somewhat sick. I could go on, but of COURSE it is grotesque, and an obscene contradiction.


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