The French have learnt the art of joyous living, and the Cannes Film Festival – whose 70th edition, coinciding with India’s seven decades of Independence, starts on May 17 – has invariably reflected this mood. This year, the French Riviera, once the playground of the Europe’s rich and the famous, will burst out in music and mirth and colour with perhaps Indian cinema’s famed melodrama adding to the celebration. And aptly, the festival poster, released on Wednesday, conveys this spirit.
The poster, which is full of freedom and daring and happiness, is passionate red in colour with a dash of sparkling gold.
The Cannes poster, often a harbinger of a Festival that has been ruling the world like a queen, shows Claudia Cardinale. An Italian actor, Cardinale stole the limelight in some of the most renowned European and American movies in the 1960s and the 1970s. These include Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, Goha with Omar Sherif, Blindfold with Rock Hudson, Girl with a Suitcase, The Leopard and The Pink Panther with David Niven (where she is seen in a sari, and mind you this was 1963).
In the poster, Cardinale is seen dancing and laughing and living – and these tell us what an adventurous actor she was, what an independent woman she was. And throughout the 12-day Festival, this spirit of welcome and openness will permeate the Croisette, Cannes’ beach front, where once the Prince of Monaco, Rainier, wooed and wed Grace Kelly, that epitome of beauty and artistic excellence.
Above all this, Cannes signifies truth, sincerity and boldness – all of which help it to push the world to look at itself. In short, Cannes becomes a mirror for those 12 days, a mirror where innumerable countries enjoy the freedom to introspect through their respective cinemas.
“I am honoured and proud to be flying the flag for the 70th Festival de Cannes,’ said Cardinale. “I am delighted with this choice of photo. It’s the image I myself have of the Festival, of an event that illuminates everything around. That dance on the rooftops of Rome was back in 1959. No one remembers the photographer’s name… I’ve also forgotten it. But this photo reminds me of my origins, and of a time when I never dreamed of climbing the steps of the world’s most famous cinema hall. Happy anniversary!’
Italian actress Monica Bellucci will be the Mistress of Ceremonies, and the Spanish legend, Pedro Almodovar, will chair the international jury.
The rest of the jury will be announced on April 13, and so too the official selections. One is sure India will be waiting with bated breath to see if it figures in these lists.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran contributed to the 70th anniversary volume of the Festival, and will be covering the event this year)
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