To Each His Own Cinema – Cannes 60th Birthday

I promised myself to go to Cannes one day to present a film of mine. OK, thats a tall order. May be just to be part of Cannes, as a filmmaker producer friend of mine highly recommended this experience.

Here is a Variety report of the 33 three-minute short films made by “leading international auteurs on the occasion of the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th birthday“. Following is an excerpt on the two Canadians on the list, Atom and David,

Also rating high marks are contributions from Atom Egoyan, in which two people in separate cinemas phone each other images of the films they’re watching …

Occupying a provocative, confrontational zone all its own is David Cronenberg‘s intense piece, in which the director himself appears as “the last Jew in the world in the last cinema in the world” preparing to commit suicide on television while commentators blather on dispassionately about Jews and cinema. [K: I love some of David’s out there cinema. Including his quite daring Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999), and the new “normal” A History of Violence (2005).]

And I don’t think any filmmakers and the press at Cannes will forget the frustrated Roman Polanski walking out from press conference. I have excerpted a wonderful exchange between the new and the old titans here for the record [K: emphasis mine],

“The form of cinema as we know it and love it, it is a thing of the past.” declared Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg early on during the news conference in Cannes, “it really isn’t the cinema anymore.” He explained that the changes in production and distribution taking place have killed cinema as it previously existed. Concluding the thought, he added, “For the young people who are developing in this current techological information environment, its all still very exciting (just) as the mass cinema was for us, (but) its just very different.”

Fellow Canuck filmmaker Atom Egoyan agreed with Cronenberg, noting that cinema began as a “collective experience” that the new generation of directors and audiences may not understand. [K: Or care.] Countering the claim, Roman Polanski responded that claims about the death of cinema are nothing new. “I remember the same type of debate when the tape and the cassettes came out.” Polanski citing that the gathering of an “anonymous audience” to experience music, for example, “is as old as the history of mankind. [K: With due respect to Roman, the tapes and cassettes were pre-digital and pre-internet age. I think this is a totally different game now.]

Requesting the microphone to respond further, Atom Egoyan countered that he simply doesn’t see a place for watching classic cinema in the way it was intended to be seen, leading Polanski to again request the microphone. “There is now a fashion at each (film) festival to show these films,” he responded, noting the presentation of silent films with live orchestras.

With some in the audience chuckling, Egoyan retreived the microphone again and looking directly at Polanski, he said, “I was inspired to make films by watching your short films as a kid, but ‘Mammals’,for instance, if you were you see that on a small screen it would not be the same experience. For a young student now, you won’t have that option. So, the language has changed.”

Films by Atom and David may not have universal appeal but I am proud to call myself a fellow Canadian. And on a drunken day, I may even call myself a fellow Canadian filmmaker.

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