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Cannes Film Festival 2016: Reporter's diary

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter at the Cannes Film Festival

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image copyrightFestival de Cannes

The 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, one of the key events in the international entertainment calendar, is taking place in the south of France.

Having slapped on his sun hat and dusted down his tux, the BBC's Neil Smith is on the Croisette to bring you all the news, gossip and glamour from this annual cinema showcase.

Follow his adventures here and on the entertainment news team's Twitter feed.


That's all from my Cannes diary this year, but we'll have plenty more news and features to bring you from the festival before it comes to a close this weekend.

I'll leave you with my favourite poster from the Marche du Film, the bustling film market in which any film idea, however fanciful, can apparently be sold to someone.

Bonne projection!

image copyrightShark Exorcist


image copyrightEPA
image captionJoel Edgerton, Ruth Negga and director Jeff Nichols in Cannes

Expectations had been running high ahead of this morning's press screening of Loving, Jeff Nichols' film about an interracial couple from Virginia who faced prison in the '50s for getting married.

Their plight led to a landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

The story is one that could have generated any number of stirring courtroom declarations, triumphant exclamations of victory and other such clichés.

Yet Nichols - whose previous features include the highly regarded Mud, Take Shelter and Midnight Special - takes a different tack, concentrating on the human struggle behind the headlines.

He is aided by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, both of whom give movingly understated performances as the couple whose surname gives the film its title, as well as a cameo from his regular collaborator Michael Shannon.

Loving is a well-made, well-told and well-timed film from a director we'll all be hearing a lot more of in future.


(Pun alert)

The Palm Dog is a charming Cannes tradition in which awards are presented each year to the festival's best canine performances.

The prizes are given out at the end of the event. I suspect, however, the 2016 competition may already be "Rover".

Say hi to Nellie, a slobbery English bulldog whose portrayal of Marvin in the new film from Jim Jarmusch could well see this dog have its day.

image copyright Inkjet Productions
image captionPaterson tells the story of a of a bus driver with a secret life

Said mutt steals all the "paw-dits" in Paterson, a low-key character study that takes its name both from its main (human) character and the city where he resides.

The film chronicles a week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver), a New Jersey bus driver who has a secret life as a poet.

Every day he gets up, kisses his wife and goes to work. Every night he takes the dog for a walk and downs a beer in his local tavern.

The film is about the people he encounters, the conversations he overhears and the poems he never lets anyone read.

Paterson is up for the Palme d'Or but is probably too minimalist and uneventful to walk away with the accolade.

If Marvin isn't recognised at the Palm Dogs, though, it will be "ruff justice" indeed.


Remember that open-air screening of Prince film Purple Rain that had to be called off on Thursday due to inclement weather?

Well, it had been thought the festival would try to show the film again on Sunday at its cinema on the beach.

For reasons best known to Cannes director Thierry Fremaux, though, there was no Prince to be seen last night.

Instead, the festival chose to project 1966 Palme d'Or recipient A Man and a Woman - a great film to be sure, but a lost opportunity all the same.

The upshot is where the Berlin Film Festival had the opportunity to honour David Bowie, a chance to celebrate His Royal Funkiness was allowed to slip through Cannes' fingers.

As he might have said (in French), ceci est ce que cela ressemble quand les colombes pleurent.


Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling had a fine old time at the Nice Guys press conference, clowning for the cameras and responding to questions with a string of wisecracks.

Crowe started off by using his mobile phone to take a picture of his co-star, much to the latter's mock displeasure.

image copyrightEPA

Here are some of other light-hearted moments from this afternoon's event:

  • Crowe referring to Gosling as "bugalugs", a playful Australian term of endearment
  • Gosling's explanation of the on-screen rapport between himself and Crowe: "The Alexa [camera] has a new chemistry feature. They just do it in post [production]"
  • Asked if he and Crowe saw themselves as "bad men" in the film, Gosling quipped: "I'm Batman and he's Robin." "No, I'm Fatman and he's Rubin," Crowe fired back
  • Crowe to a woman announcing herself to be a radio reporter from Colombia: "You shouldn't be on radio, baby, you've got a beautiful face"
  • Asked whether they would consider making The Nice Guys 2, Crowe said he was much too busy. "That's fine," said Gosling. "I think I can do it on my own"
  • "That sign over there," said Crowe, pointing to a placard informing reporters with headsets which channels (one or two) they should choose to hear English and French translations. "Is that a football score?"

• Asked if he had ever used the Stanislavsky acting method, Crowe said he used "the Russell Crowe method". "I have no [expletive] idea what the Stanislavsky method may be," he continued

The Nice Guys is released in the US on Friday and in the UK on 3 June.


Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are incompetent private eyes in The Nice Guys, a comic thriller from director Shane Black that's screening this weekend out of competition.

image copyrightAFP
image captionRussell Crowe and Ryan Gosling showcase their comedy skills in The Nice Guys

They're thrown together in 1970s Los Angeles when they find themselves looking for the same girl, a politician's daughter caught in a conspiracy involving pollution, pornography and corporate malfeasance.

Gosling displays great comic chops as a mustachioed buffoon who's always messing up, much to the dismay of his own teenage daughter.

To my mind, though, there's nothing particularly nice about the film's endless profanity, cartoonish violence and depiction of women as disposable sex objects.

Crowe and Gosling will be fielding questions from the press this afternoon, so stop back in a little while to find out what they said.


There's more Shia LaBeouf - a lot more in fact - in American Honey, the fourth feature from British director Andrea Arnold.

A road movie set in the US Midwest, it's one of only two UK titles in the main Cannes competition, the other being Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake.

The similarities don't end there, as both films have the same cinematographer in Ireland's Robbie Ryan.

image copyrightAP
image captionShia LaBeouf plays a fast-talking opportunist in American Honey

Yet his work on each film could hardly be more different, the unadorned naturalism of I, Daniel Blake being a world away from Honey's radiant, sun-soaked visuals.

Arnold's film tells of a teenaged girl from a troubled home who has a life-changing rite of passage when she runs away with a travelling sales crew who sell magazine subscriptions door to door.

Along the way she falls for her recruiter (LaBeouf), a fast-talking opportunist who will use any means necessary to make his sales quota.

The film evokes an intoxicating atmosphere of hedonistic abandon and features a stand-out central performance from newcomer Sasha Lane.

Like a number of the titles I've seen this year, though, it might have benefited from being just a little shorter.


What with The BFG and all, Saturday was quite a busy day.

Here are a few of the other things I got up to over the last 24 hours.

image copyrightReuters
image captionAndy Serkis spoke about Breathe, the second film he has directed

Chat to Andy Serkis.

The Lord of the Rings star was at a morning event hosted by our BBC Films colleagues to talk about Breathe, his next foray behind the camera.

Starring Andrew Garfield and Clare Foy, this fact-based story of a man paralysed by polio in his twenties will be Serkis's second film as director after his version of The Jungle Book, an interpretation he says will be very different from the recent Disney adaptation.

Chat to Joseph Fiennes.

The Shakespeare in Love star popped into a function hosted by the Beijing International Film Festival to talk about The Last Race, an "unofficial sequel" to Chariots of Fire that explores the later years in the life of Olympic runner Eric Liddell.

image copyrightEPA
image captionJoseph Fiennes spoke to the BBC about The Last Race, an "unofficial sequel" to Chariots of Fire

"At the height of his fame Liddell went back to where he was born, China, to continue his missionary work," the actor explained.

"It's the part of Eric's life that people don't know, and a story that's never really been told."

Meet Sverrir Gudnason, the Swedish actor who'll be playing Bjorn Borg in a film about his rivalry with John McEnroe.

Shia LaBeouf will play McEnroe in the tennis-based drama, which will focus on the run-up to the 1980 Wimbledon Final and co-star Stellan Skarsgard as Borg's coach.

New balls, please...


The biggest smile at today's press conference for The BFG came from Ruby Barnhill, the young actress chosen to play the female lead in Steven Spielberg's Roald Dahl adaption.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionKate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance at the BFG press conference

"It's amazing to know you've been cast in such an incredible and magical film," the 11-year-old beamed.

"It's a dream come true and it's so incredible to be in Cannes."

Barnhill is just one Brit in a cast that includes Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Wilton as The Queen.

"This is one movie you do not want to cast American actors in," joked Spielberg, adding that he had imagined the grilling he would have faced in Britain had he gone down that route.

In one scene in the film, Wilton's Queen drinks a magical libation that makes her (and her corgis) excessively flatulent.

The Downton Abbey star suggested it was amusing to see the Queen placed in unfamiliar situations, while suggesting her "wonderful sense of humour" would allow her to see the funny side.

"We'll see what the Queen thinks when the time comes, won't we?" laughed her director.

A more sombre note was struck by one journalist, who asked Spielberg where movies like his fitted in a world full of homelessness and inequality.

"All of us have to believe in magic," the Jaws director responded. "The worse the world gets, the more magic we have to believe in.

"That magic will give us hope, and that hope will cause us to be proactive in a world that needs our attention more than it ever has."

The BFG is out in the UK later this year.


The sun came out for Steven Spielberg for the Cannes premiere of The BFG, his big-screen version of Roald Dahl's much-loved story about the Big Friendly Giant and the little girl who befriends him.

image copyrightDisney/Entertainment One

Like 1982's ET before it, the film tells of a bond between a human child and an other-worldly being - in this case a giant who comes out at night to harvest and distribute dreams.

Written by the same person who penned ET, the late Melissa Mathison, Spielberg's latest whisks the audience away to a magnificently realised Giant Country, where the BFG - played by Mark Rylance through a combination of motion capture and special effects - is himself dwarfed by giants of a far less amicable temperament.

When the nasty giants endanger the human realm, young heroine Sophie - a character named after Dahl's first granddaughter - enlists the aid of Her Majester the Queenie (Penelope Wilton), leading to a visit by the BFG to Buckingham Palace that is the film's stand-out comic set-piece.

Though occasionally as ponderous as Rylance's delivery of his giant's malapropism-laden dialogue, The BFG is a charmer that will entrance children around the world.

image copyrightDisney/Entertainment One

If the film received a slightly muted response at today's press screening, it might be down to Dahl's fondness for the made-up word - a penchant that necessitates the inclusion of a glossary in the movie's accompanying press material.

You have to feel for the poor subtitle writers who had to find a French equivalent for "delumptious", "frobscottle" and "telly-telly bunkum box".

We'll have more from Spielberg and Rylance later, so stay tuned.


Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and his former partner Vanessa Paradis, was cheered on by her mother last night at the premiere of a film in which she has a starring role.

Lily-Rose, 16, appears in The Dancer as Isadora Duncan, the celebrated performer who died so tragically, not very far from here, in 1927.

The Dancer, though, catches Duncan at the start of her ascent, when she was taken under the wing of one Loie Fuller in 1900s Paris.

Born in the American Midwest, Fuller enjoyed remarkable if now largely forgotten success with a "serpentine dance" that saw her create exotic, butterfly-like shapes on stage from inside a flowing silk gown.

Fuller's career, slightly fictionalised, is the true subject of Stephanie Di Giusto's film, an elegant if conventional biopic that could have used some of the daring seen in the aforementioned Neruda.

Kudos, though, to singer turned actress Soko - real name Stephanie Sokolinski - for the intensity and commitment with which she brings Fuller back to life.

The Dancer, which screened in Cannes under the Un Certain Regard banner, will receive a full French release in September.


It was a good story. No, it was a great story. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be a totally TRUE story.

Yes, we're talking about Dionne Warwick's announcement earlier today that Lady Gaga would be playing Cilla Black in a film about her life.

Unfortunately, no one appeared to have mentioned this to Gaga herself, whose involvement in the project has since been denied by her publicist.

Surprise, surprise indeed.


image copyrightAFP
image captionKen Loach (centre) with actor Dave Johns (left) and actress Hayley Squires

Ken Loach's latest film is in the main competition line-up, so it has a chance of winning the prestigious Palme d'Or award.

But there are many different sections and sidebars in Cannes that go beyond the 21 films in contention for its main prizes.

Café Society and Money Monster, for example, played out of competition, meaning they got lots of publicity without having to face scrutiny from a jury.

(Julia Roberts certainly helped that last night by climbing the steps of the Grand Theatre Lumiere barefoot - interpreted by many as a statement in the light of reports that women were turned away from premieres last year for not wearing heels.)

Then there are the films in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, not to mention those picked to appear under the Directors' Fortnight and International Critics' Week banners.

After that you have the special screenings, the midnight screenings, and the so-called Cannes Classics.

And beyond those there is the Marche du Film, a bustling shop window for films both finished and in the pipeline that holds its own slew of screenings at various locales across town.

What this means is that no one at the festival will ever see everything they would like or intend to see.

So a lot of times you end up going with your gut - which is what I did this morning when I went to see Neruda, one of the films in the Directors' Fortnight section.

The good news for me is that my gamble paid off, Pablo Larrain's biopic of the Chilean politician and poet Pablo Neruda proving witty, intelligent and seductive.

I'm no expert when it comes to Neruda's poetry, but I certainly intend to become better informed once the festival is over.

Part of what makes the film interesting is its approach to its subject, seen here in the late 1940s when his communist sympathies saw him ostracised and persecuted by the Chilean authorities.

They're represented here by a dogged yet incompetent policeman, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who becomes obsessed with Neruda to the point of distraction.

Throw in cameos from Pablo Picasso and Augusto Pinochet and you have an unusual and unconventional portrait of an artist.

I hope to be making many more such discoveries as the festival continues.


"Wow!" muttered Ken Loach this lunchtime as his arrival at the official press conference for his latest film was met with a sustained round of applause.

I, Daniel Blake, his new feature, had clearly struck a chord with its depiction of a Geordie carpenter who finds himself on the breadline after suffering a heart attack.

Loach said it was "shocking" that, 50 years on from his seminal TV drama Cathy Come Home, there were still stories of social inequality and injustice waiting to be told.

"There is a conscious cruelty in the way we're organising our lives," he told reporters on Friday.

"The most vulnerable people [in society] are [being] told their poverty is their own fault."

Writer Paul Laverty went further, suggesting there was a "propaganda campaign" at work "to denigrate everyone on welfare."

"There's nothing accidental about it, and it's affecting a huge section of the population."

Loach also brushed off a suggestion that his latest film might be his swansong, muttering: "I don't know about that."


image copyrightGetty Images

Dionne Warwick wafted into Cannes this morning to announce a film is to be made about her life.

LeToya Luckett, an original member of Destiny's Child, will play the singer in Dionne in which Lady Gaga will also appear as Cilla Black.

Warwick and Black had quite the rivalry back in the day, particularly when Cilla's version of Anyone Who Had a Heart eclipsed Dionne's original.

Asked on Friday why she regarded Black as her nemesis, Warwick said it was "because she stole my music".

Danny Glover will lay Dionne Warwick's father in the film. Mario von Peebles is in talks to direct.

Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis is also lined up to appear as Marlene Dietrich, whose mentoring of Warwick earned her the nickname "Momma".

The film will be based on Warwick's own autobiography, entitled My Life, As I See It.


Prince fans were left disappointed last night when an open-air tribute screening of the late pop star's 1984 film Purple Rain was called off at short notice.

High winds prevented the public screening going ahead on the beach - though it is hoped a second showing on Sunday will have a happier outcome.

It's the kind of thing that happens at Cannes, a place where plans can change at the drop of a sun hat and one never quite knows who one is going to bump into next.

While entering a hotel on Thursday, for example, I found myself just one revolving glass pane away from Mads Mikkelsen, Danish star of Casino Royale and Hannibal and a member of this year's Palme d'Or jury.

One celebrity encounter I missed out on last night was with Kendall Jenner, one of those Kardashians we're all supposed to be keeping up with.

Now that's what I called a missed opportunity. I would have dearly loved to have known what she made of the opening night film in this years' Directors' Fortnight.


I, Daniel Blake, the new film from Britain's Ken Loach, is an angry howl at the welfare system and the bureaucracy involved in obtaining benefits payments.

Its titular hero - amusingly and touchingly played by stand-up comic Dave Johns - is a skilled joiner with a heart condition who has been signed off work by his doctor but who is still deemed fit to work by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Cast adrift in a sea of red tape, food banks and forms that can only be filled out online, this 59-year-old Geordie finds both poverty and desperation knocking at his door.

His plight is mirrored by that of Katie (pictured), a single mother from London with her own battles against a system that is baldly depicted as insensitive, unhelpful and often openly hostile.

There are clear links here to Cathy Come Home, Loach's influential 1966 TV play about another mother who falls on hard times.

Half a century on, I, Daniel Blake shows the 79-year-old director's eye for social injustice is as acute and unblinking as ever.

Interestingly, the film's press screening this afternoon came with two sets of subtitles - French and English.

Were festival organisers fearful that the film's thick Newcastle accents would be hard to make out?


image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightGetty Images

George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jodie Foster make a stellar trio in anyone's book.

Small wonder they've been invited to Cannes to bring some more Hollywood glamour - oh, and a film - to this year's event.

The film is called Money Monster, a satire-cum-thriller in which a smart-aleck presenter of a financial-advice TV show, played by Clooney, gets his comeuppance live on air.

It comes in the rather too topical form of a vengeful investor, played by Britain's Jack O'Connell, who hijacks the show at gunpoint and forces its host to don an explosive-laden vest.

The hostage taker demands that the show remains on air, forcing Clooney's producer - Roberts' role - to double up as high-stakes negotiator.

The show, of course, becomes an international talking point, for all the New York Police Department's attempts to keep a lid on the situation.

Things get a lot sillier from there, though Jodie Foster - directing here rather than starring - deserves some credit for keeping so many balls in the air at once.

Clooney, alas, isn't really in his element as a flamboyant TV star whose thirst for ratings makes him behave more akin to a circus ringmaster.

Ofcom, meanwhile, would have a field day with the number of F-words that go out unbleeped. Haven't they heard of a 10-second delay?


image copyrightEPA

Jesse Eisenberg had only good things to say about the London theatre scene this morning while doing the promotional rounds for Woody Allen's Cafe Society.

The Batman v Superman star is shortly to make his West End debut in his own play The Spoils, which opens later this month at the Trafalgar Studios.

"I love theatre in England; it's the most unusual theatre scene, even more unique than New York, because it has more interesting, government-funded shows.

"They're able to do bigger-budget, more obscure theatre than when it has to be independently produced and they have to get stars to be in it.

"I was very happy to hear they wanted to do my play; I would have done it anywhere.

"But I feel very lucky to do it in such a Mecca of great theatre like London."


There had been talk ahead of this year's festival that security would be ramped up in the light of last year's attacks in Paris and fears that Cannes too might be targeted.

Apart from being subjected to the occasional sweep with a hand-held metal detector, though, I haven't noticed any particular escalation in the usual building entry procedures.

The festival's first day was dampened somewhat by a heavy shower that had people on the Croisette scurrying for shelter.

But it didn't stop the opening night ceremony going ahead as scheduled, as these photos from the red carpet show.

image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightGetty Images


image copyrightAP
image captionTimberlake lined up with a selection of 'Trolls' at the launch

"Life isn't all cupcakes and rainbows, you know."

No, not Woody Allen again, but Justin Timberlake in his latest role as a glum troll named Branch in the latest animation from the DreamWorks stable.

Called Trolls, the film tells of a cheerful little creature called Poppy (Anna Kendrick) who spends her days singing, laughing and hugging the other denizens of her magical, candy-coloured world.

Until, that is, a nasty ogre makes off with some of her friends, forcing her to embark on a rescue mission with a reluctant Branch on tow.

image copyrightEPA
image captionTimberlake and Kendrick had some fun with a coachman upon their arrival

Festival attendees were given a preview earlier of some footage from the film, ahead of its release in the autumn.

They were also given a treat: Timberlake and Kendrick performing an acoustic version of Cyndi Lauper's True Colours, one of the songs that appears in the film.

Justin will be at the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend to sing Can't Stop the Feeling, another song from the Trolls soundtrack.

I guess we should consider this a warm-up.


image copyrightAP
image captionAllen said celebrities complain about privacy "but these are not life-threatening problems"

Woody Allen was on predictably mordant form at today's Café Society press conference, describing life as "fraught with peril, sadness and cruelty".

"You can look at life as amusing with a farcical element to it," he told journalists. "But it can also be very sad if you penetrate it."

The veteran director also had some slightly prescriptive words for stars who complain about press intrusion into their private lives.

"Celebrities often kvetch about the lack of privacy and the paparazzi but these are not life-threatening problems," he went on.

"There are upsides and downsides to fame, but the perks outweigh the downsides."

image copyrightEPA
image captionWoody Allen answered questions alongside the cast of his film, Café Society

Café Society, like several of Woody's films, involves a relationship between an older man and a younger woman - a recurring trope that a couple of (female) journalists gently took him to task about.

Allen, though, said he "wouldn't hesitate" to write a film in which the ages were reversed, but said it was "not a commonly seen thing".

"It's a perfectly valid idea to have the age difference in that direction," he said as he sat on a dais between Kristen Stewart, 26, and Blake Lively, 28.

"I just don't have the experience or the material to draw on."

I'll be spending some more time with Allen and his cast tomorrow, so make sure you stop by.


image copyrightLionsgate/Amazon Studios
image captionCafé Society: "A nostalgic throwback"

Woody Allen is no stranger to Cannes. Café Society is the 14th of his films to screen at the festival and the third one to launch it.

A nostalgic throwback to the glamorous nightclubs and pool parties of 1930s New York and Hollywood, it's a wistful story of thwarted romance that Allen himself narrates.

Its hero is Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), a naïve rube from the Bronx who travels to Los Angeles in the hope of getting a job from his hotshot agent uncle (Steve Carell).

He quickly falls in love with his uncle's secretary (Kristen Stewart), only to discover she has a boyfriend to whom she is devoted.

Can Bobby win her heart? Or will 'Vonnie' - short for Veronica - choose to stay with her lover, even it means breaking up his marriage?

It's one of several moral dilemmas Allen toys with in a film which has a central theme of how the choices we make shape, steer and, in some cases, cut short our lives.

Sumptuously photographed by Vittorio Storaro, Café Society is a gentle, meandering tale that revels in Manhattan's after-hours world of cocktails and jazz bars.

image copyrightLionsgate/Amazon Studios
image captionThis is Woody Allen's third film to open the festival

Curiously, though, it also contains isolated scenes of mob-related violence that one would more readily associate with Martin Scorsese than its 80-year-old director.

I suspect the Cannes critics will be perplexed by a picture that, like a lot of Allen's recent work, falls somewhere between playful comedy and thoughtful drama.

But I'm sure they'll laugh as heartily as I did when one character remarks that one should "live every day as if it's your last - because some day, you'll be right".

Café Society will open the Cannes Film Festival later and is out in the UK in September.

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