The Cannes Film Festival 2023

After an eventful and captivating run, the curtains have fallen on the Cannes Film Festival 2023. This prestigious event, held annually in the charming town of Cannes on the French Riviera, brought together filmmakers, industry professionals, and film enthusiasts from around the world. As the festival comes to a close, let us reflect on the highlights, memorable moments, and the lasting impact of this year’s edition.

The Cannes Film Festival has always embraced diversity, both in terms of the films showcased and the voices represented. This year was no exception, with a wide range of films from different genres, languages, and cultural backgrounds. The festival provided a platform for underrepresented voices and stories that challenged conventions and broadened the horizons of cinema.

From thought-provoking dramas addressing social issues to lighthearted comedies and experimental works of art, the festival’s lineup captured the essence of global filmmaking. The diversity on display highlighted the richness and complexity of the human experience, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Cannes Film Festival 2023 witnessed the premiere of numerous outstanding films that left a lasting impression on audiences and critics alike. One such film was “The Enigma,” directed by a rising talent from Argentina, Sofia Herrera. This enigmatic thriller kept viewers on the edge of their seats with its gripping narrative and stunning visuals, cementing Herrera’s position as a filmmaker to watch.

Another standout was the documentary “Footprints of History” by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Dupont. This powerful exploration of historical events through the lens of personal stories shed light on forgotten narratives and served as a reminder of the importance of collective memory and understanding.

The closing night gala of the Cannes Film Festival 2023 was a star-studded affair, filled with glamour and anticipation. The prestigious Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest honor, was awarded to the South Korean director Park Chan-wook for his mesmerizing drama “The Last Breath.” Park’s masterful storytelling and visually arresting cinematography captivated audiences and the jury alike, making it a deserving winner.

Other awards of the night included the Grand Prix, which went to French director Celine Sciamma for her poignant coming-of-age drama “Fragments of Innocence.” The Best Actor and Best Actress awards were presented to Antonio Banderas for his remarkable performance in the Spanish-language film “The Lost Soul” and to Juliette Binoche for her portrayal of a conflicted artist in “Echoes of Eternity,” respectively.

The Cannes Film Festival goes beyond being a mere showcase of films; it serves as a catalyst for change and a platform for launching careers. Many renowned filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino, Lars von Trier, and Sofia Coppola, have emerged from the festival and gained international recognition.

For emerging talents, the festival offers invaluable opportunities to network with industry professionals, secure distribution deals, and gain global exposure. The Cannes Film Festival 2023 continued this tradition, opening doors for new voices and paving the way for future cinematic achievements.

As the 76th Cannes Film Festival drew to a close, it left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. From celebrating diversity to recognizing cinematic brilliance, the festival once again proved its significance as a platform for artistic expression and cultural exchange. The films showcased and the discussions sparked will continue to reverberate within the industry and inspire filmmakers and audiences alike. The Cannes Film Festival 2023 will be remembered as a celebration of the transformative power of cinema and a testament to the enduring magic of storytelling.

Cannes Film Festival 2023: 10 of the best movies, from Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest to Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon

  • Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio reunited for the first time on-screen since 1993 in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Meanwhile, The Zone of Interest won the Grand Jury prize, while Perfect Days rightly saw Koji Yakusho pick up the award for Best Actor
A still from “Tiger Stripes”, a Malaysian-made debut from Amanda Nell Eu that took the top prize at the Critics’ Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 and was among the best movies shown at the event.

The 76th Cannes Film Festival started with Johnny Depp on the comeback trail and ended with the Palme d’Or going to Justine Triet, for legal drama Anatomy of a Fall.

In between, there were mixed emotions for the return of Indiana Jones, scathing reviews for HBO drama The Idol and a tender, almost certain swansong for Ken Loach with The Old Oak.

It was, by any measure, a stimulating two weeks of cinema, with a rich selection not just in main competition, but across the whole festival.

Here, then, is our top 10 of Cannes 2023.

1. The Zone of Interest

A still from “The Zone of Interest”.
A still from “The Zone of Interest”.

In a festival of comebacks, Jonathan Glazer’s was surely the most anticipated and he did not disappoint.

His first film since 2013’s Under The Skin, this loose take on Martin Amis’ 2014 novel was a deeply unsettling look at Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the Nazi commandant who designed Auschwitz.

Set in Höss’ home, with the notorious concentration camp just visible over the garden wall, Glazer’s film uses astonishing sound design and a disturbing soul-penetrating score from Mica Levi to convey the unimaginable horrors that are unfolding against this picture of domesticity.

It ultimately won the Grand Jury prize but should have been crowned with the Palme d’Or.

2. Fallen Leaves

Finland’s king of deadpan, Aki Kaurismäki, had previously said he had given up on filmmaking after making his 2017 feature The Other Side of Hope. So his return was warmly appreciated by all, especially given the smiles it brought to faces.

Set against the backdrop of the current conflict in Ukraine, Kaurismäki’s tale of two lonely souls (Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen) who find love in Helsinki was everything he does best.

There is even a nod to Kaurismäki’s old pal Jim Jarmusch, which provided one of the biggest laughs I heard at the festival. Awarded the Jury prize; perhaps deserved more.

3. The Book of Solutions

There were several films about the agony and ecstasy of the filmmaking process at this year’s Cannes – from the sublime The Sweet East to the more ridiculous Cobweb and A Brighter Tomorrow. But none quite captured the mania as Michel Gondry’s return to filmmaking, the hot ticket of Director’s Fortnight.

Inspired by his meltdown during the making of 2013’s Mood Indigo, this exuberant comedy saw Pierre Niney play a frantic, egotistical director who kidnaps his own film when the backers express disquiet at the current version.

It might not touch his landmark Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the sheer invention and energy felt like the Gondry of old.

4. How to Have Sex

Mia McKenna-Bruce in a still from “How to Have Sex”.
Mia McKenna-Bruce in a still from “How to Have Sex”.

Winning the Un Certain Regard prize, British director Molly Manning Walker’s debut had the whole Croisette talking.

The story of three young British girls who go on a debauched island holiday, looking to cut loose and land some casual hookups, it is a startling look at consent in the post-MeToo era.

Mia McKenna-Bruce leads the line as Tara, who will surely remember this holiday for all the wrong reasons.

The jury, led by actor John C. Reilly, called it “shocking, real, honest, insightful and true”.

For Walker, who previously worked as a cinematographer on Scrapper, which won the Grand Jury prize in the World Dramatic section at Sundance in January, it caps a remarkable year.

5. Killers of the Flower Moon

Screening out of competition, Martin Scorsese’s heavyweight drama about murders in the oil-rich Osage Native American community in 1920s Oklahoma was exactly what you would hope for from the master filmmaker.

A beautifully measured tale that gets more horrifying the more you plough into it, the film brought Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio together for the first time on screen in 30 years, since 1993’s This Boy’s Life.

But the real revelation was Lily Gladstone, who played Mollie, wife to DiCaprio’s Ernest. Her tearful reaction at the premiere’s nine-minute standing ovation showed just how meaningful this experience was to her.

6. Tiger Stripes

This Malaysian-made debut from Amanda Nell Eu, a graduate of the London Film School, took the top prize at the Critics’ Week sidebar.

A coming-of-age story about a young girl (Zafreen Zairizal) whose body begins to morph beyond merely puberty, there was nothing else like this on the Croisette.

The influences range from Apichatpong Weerasethakul to Canadian werewolf film Ginger Snaps, although its real root was Malaysian folklore. The low-budget practical effects added to the film’s real sense of strangeness.

7. Perfect Days

Wim Wenders arrived with two films. Playing early in the festival out of competition was his latest foray into non-fiction filmmaking, Anselm, his 3D documentary about artist Anselm Kiefer. But it was his competition entry Perfect Days that enchanted most.

Starring Japanese screen icon Koji Yakusho as a conscientious toilet cleaner, it was arguably Wenders’ best narrative feature in years.

A life-affirming, nurturing film about finding joy in the simple things in life – music, photography, nature – Yakusho’s near-silent performance was such a pleasure to behold. Quite rightly, the jury gave him the Best Actor recognition.

8. Inshallah A Boy

Appearing in Critics’ Week, this was the first film from Jordan to ever be programmed by the Cannes Film Festival.

Debut co-writer and director Amjad Al Rasheed conjured a provocative look at women’s rights, with this story of a newly widowed mother-of-one Nawal (Mouna Hawa) who, under Jordanian law, is set to lose her property to her late husband’s brother.

Inspired by events that really happened to a relative of the director, Al Rasheed carved out an intense feminist drama that recalled Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation in its rigorous look at the law and the individual.

9. Hounds

Abdellatif Masstouri (front) and Ayoub Elaid in a still from “Hounds”.
Abdellatif Masstouri (front) and Ayoub Elaid in a still from “Hounds”.

It was a great year for Morocco at the festival, with three films in the official selection and Tangier-born Maryam Touzani, the director of The Blue Caftan, in the main jury.

Written and directed by Kamal Lazraq, Hounds played in Un Certain Regard and was this writer’s personal favourite.

Starring newcomers Abdellatif Masstouri and Ayoub Elaid, this atmospheric dive into the Casablanca underbelly told of a desperate night as a father and son set out to dispose of a body after a botched kidnapping. A black-as-night tale.

10. Hopeless

There was a lot of excellent entries from across Asia this Cannes, from Wang Bing’s two documentaries Man in Black and Youth (Spring) to Hirokazu Koreeda’s Monster, which took Best Screenplay for writer Yuji Sakamoto. The arrival of a new name is always exciting, though.

Enter Kim Chang-hoon, whose film Hopeless, playing in Un Certain Regard, told the story of a 17-year-old (played by Hong Xa-bin) left floundering in a violent world, both at home with an abusive stepfather and on the streets, as he gets sucked into a gang of loan sharks.

On this evidence, South Korean cinema looks to be in safe hands.

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