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Ah the Cannes Film Festival. 60 years in the running and one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Or so they say.
Having followed it for a good 7 years and having read innumerable articles about it, it has always led me to ponder over how prestigious it actually is.
Let me explain film festivals briefly. Film festivals are the biggest platform for the media. This is the one time when everybody is on the same side except the critics. It is also the best place to get audience opinion, financial backing, distribution and premiere larger-than-life films, as well as the obscure independent film. In this world, technically, no one is big or small. They are there for one and one thing alone, and that is the film medium. Documentary, Hollywood epic, International films, art house and local independent films can all be found here. Every big star to every aspiring star is here and they walk on the same carpets and circulate in the same crowds.
Film festivals also give out awards and have juries that judge the deserving films. Think the Oscars but a 10-day long event that also gives something other than the Hollywood Big Wigs some critical and media attention.
But this particular film festival’s credibility comes into question. A while back, I recall reading an article in the Times about the Cannes being a glamorous festival, along with Venice, and in fact it has been showcasing blockbusters and Hollywood starlets since time immemorial.
So why is it prestigious? Last time I checked, it premiered films like Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (the epic disaster), The Da Vinci Code (while I’m a fan, I recognize it to be nothing less than a larger than life film). I admit it’s short film and independent film awards really are worth the paper they are written on, but no one talks about those films nearly as much. What Cannes has become is the biggest fashion week (albeit, inadvertently) — with starlets like Kelly Brooke (an obscure creature from Britain) and Bai Ling “gracing” (I use that term oh-so loosely) the red carpet. With Loreal models walking the red carpet, (they sponsor the event along with Armani and Choppard) who have no real place at the festival unless they are promoting one of their own films.
Which brings me to the point — what is the fuss about this festival? Why are obscure festivals like Edinburgh and Berlinale forgotten and given less media-coverage though these film festivals are real film festivals as opposed to an expensive and over-priced fashion event?