BLOG: UK voices loud and clear in Cannes
Clio Barnard's extraordinary The Selfish Giant
As the global film industry packs its factor 50 sunscreen/wellington boots* (*delete as the week’s weather forecast crystallises), British Council’s Film team will be leading the charge to support the UK talent making its way to the world’s biggest, brashest and busiest film festival. Follow the team - Briony Hanson, Will Massa and Rachel Robey - for insights, views, tips and entertainment gleaned from our prime spot in those early morning ticket queues through our daytime business and on to midnight screenings.
We’ll look at who are the Brits to watch from the three main sections of the festival - Official Selection (those red carpet selections going head to head for the prestigious Palme d’Or); Critics' Week (originally started as an antidote to the main festival and limited to first and second features only); and Directors' Fortnight (a bespoke auteur selection); as well as dipping into the many surreal sidebars from ACID (France's Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema) to the Market (a bunker directly beneath the red carpet where dreams are bought and sold and an extraordinary number of straight-to-DVD zombie films will be energetically touted to all comers).
We’ll be based in the UK Film Centre – under the banner ‘We Are UK Film’ – alongside our colleagues from across the industry including BFI, Film London and Creative England. And despite the traditional carping (where are the UK films in Cannes?) we’re able to champion an entirely eclectic and substantial UK showing this year – 8 UK (or UK/co-pro) features spread across the programme; a range of short and emerging films and filmmakers taking part in the Cinéfondation section; and even a few UK faces in unlikely places (from Stephen Frears helming the US feature Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, to Carey Mulligan giving The Great Gatsby a surprisingly British feel).
Eclectic and Substantial British Presence
Cannes selectors have a distinct taste in UK films – rarely a year goes by without a Loach or a Leigh in the line-up (2012 was no exception with Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share competing for the Palme d’or). This year they’ve had no such obvious choice and instead have gone for a UK selection that represents everything that’s exciting and diverse about our industry, including:
Irish director Ruairi Robinson's massively ambitious sci-fi thriller Last Days on Mars, produced by Andrea Cornwell – herself a British Council Film team nominee who will be in Cannes as our European Film Promotion ‘Producer on the Move’.
Our EFP Producer on the Move nominee last year was Tracy O'Riordan, so it’s fantastically gratifying to see her back in town with The Selfish Giant, the highly anticipated second feature from acclaimed writer/director, Clio Barnard (The Arbor), which she also produced (and British Council Film head Briony Hanson will be putting the whole Selfish Giant team through its paces in a Talent Talk in the UK Film Centre on Sunday 19 May).
Scotland’s Paul Wright makes his debut with For Those In Peril, a startlingly original drama and worthy debut for Paul, himself a recipient of a British Council Shorts Support Scheme award for Until The River Runs Red.
Lynne Ramsay takes a place on the main competition jury and gets the chance to show off her recent BAFTA-winning short, The Swimmer, commissioned as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and screening in Directors' Fortnight.
Jim Jarmusch’s vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive, produced by the UK’s Jeremy Thomas and starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, heads for the Competition. Meanwhile Thomas’ 1980's classic The Last Emperor (a UK/China/Italy co-pro made with director Bernardo Bertolucci) screens in a newly restored print.
Emerging British Talent at Cannes
NFTS directing student Ana Caro takes her short animated The Magnificent Lion Boy to the Cinéfondation section and is joined in the Cinéfondation Residence by three emerging filmmakers who are either British or trained at the UK’s film schools - Fyzal Boulifa (The Curse), Mahdi Fleifel, a Danish filmmaker of Palestinian heritage who trained at the NFTS (A World Not Ours), and Rungano Nyoni, born in Lusaka, Zambia who grew up in Wales (Mwansa The Great).
Back in the Official Selection, Amit Kumar, whose BAFTA-winning short The Bypass also hit the road with British Council support some years ago, has his debut, cop thriller, Monsoon Shootout (a UK, India, Netherlands, France co-pro) originally supported by the UK Film Council, unspooling in a Midnight Screening.
And if all that isn’t enough Brit talent on show, we're delighted to see two Alfred Hitchcock films screening within the Cannes Classics section – Vertigo and The Birds – with the latter getting a special screening outdoors on the Cinema on the Beach – presumably sending audiences ducking for cover at the sight of every seagull overhead.
Don't forget you can explore these films and many more in our British Film Directory - a database of all British films made since 1998. A vital part of the Directory is its In Production section which details who's making what right now - make sure if you're in production we have captured your film here.
And we’ll be right there in Cannes to see the UK programme unveiled - for latest updates follow us on Twitter or search for the hashtag #britfilmcannes on Twitter and Instagram. And if you have any questions for the British contingent in Cannes – particularly The Selfish Giant team - send them to us using this hashtag and we’ll do our best to get you some answers.
Briony, Will & Rachel will all be tweeting from @British_Film