Cannes Diary #3: Vive La Résistance!


My first mini rebellion came in the form of the snooze button. I had planned to wake up at 6:30am, to get myself decent and walk to the Palais des Festivals in time for the 8:30am screening of ‘Leto’. But feeling like breaking my own rules, I did the devil horn thingy with one hand and reset my alarm with the other. I would go to the 11am screening instead.

Ok, so I may not be totally punk rock, but ‘Leto’ sure was. Based on a true story, the film (the English title being ‘Summer’) is set in Leningrad in the 1980’s. It follows two bands, one upcoming and one more established, who are trying to make their mark and find their voice in the Russian underground scene of rock n’ roll. A scene which is tightly controlled - to play at the local rock club, bands have to submit their lyrics first, they can’t be too loud, and the audience cannot react. Instead they sit quietly, as if they were watching theater. But then… there are moments in the film where suddenly, the characters break free in musical sequences where everyone around them joins in. Those are flashes of what they would love to do if they were able, or perhaps what it may have been like if things were different. In those scenes, ‘Leto’ is vibrant, and feels full of color even though the film is shot in black and white. Quite quickly a character pops up to remind us that “this didn’t really happen,” a melancholic edge to the fun.

Unfortunately, director Kirill Serebrennikov couldn’t be in Cannes to attend his premiere. He is currently under house arrest in Moscow, after he was charged with corruption in August. Serebrennikov has had a lot of support from prominent stars in the Russian entertainment industry, who say these charges are more about discouraging the freedom of artistic voices. Serebrennikov is quite punk rock himself, going against the Kremlin by denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and lending his support to the LGBTQ community. #FreeKirill.

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I raced from ‘Leto’ and managed to catch ‘Tokyo Story’ by Yasujiro Ozu. I guess this could be seen as another act of rebellion - seeing classic films over the buzzy current ones - but you know me, it’s hard to say no to a new restoration of Ozu on the big screen. And it looked magnificent. I soaked in all the little details - the precise framing, the still camera, the simple editing, the teapot in the frame. And the big ones - the humanistic story, the beautiful performances. I remember Mark Cousins calling Yasujiro Ozu ‘The Gentle Rebel’, and I think it fits.

After eating a crepe instead of actual food for late lunch / early dinner (I’m so punk I eat whatever I want, whenever I want! You can’t tell me what to do, stomach!) I met up with my friends Stevie Wong and Ward Verrijcken, for ‘Sorry Angel’ by Christophe Honoré. This director has always been a bit of a rebel himself, tackling the subject of HIV back in the 90s with his book ‘Close to Leo’, which was made into a movie. The AIDS epidemic and the 1990s is the subject too in ‘Sorry Angel’, set in 1993 in Paris and Brittany. The story follows two gay men from different generations and different backgrounds. They meet, fall in love, but it’s complicated as one has AIDS and is not likely to survive. Needless to say, you’ll need tissues for this one. Honoré has crafted a touching movie which will also make you laugh and feel all the things. The two leads (Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamps) are remarkable, and work so well together. Also, just like Honoré’s ‘Love Stories’, there’s a great soundtrack here too!

By the time the film finished, it was 9:30pm and though I wanted to continue to feel punk rock and kick on… bed was just too tempting. And so, full of crepe and film, I had to admit I wasn't such a rebel after all. But, as I wandered back to my apartment, I did play some Patti Smith on my iPhone. Vive la résistance!