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Cannes Film Festival | Enter sandman, exit good sense

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-05-2014 Sunil Doshi

Through this diary, I am sharing my impressions, rather than reviews, of the titles being screened at the Cannes Film Festival. I will leave the job of passing judgment on the movies being screened here to my esteemed critic friends.

Already dipped into controversy before its screening as the opening film, Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco has received devastating reviews from the international press. The film worked for me—as Dahan told me, it’s not a biopic but a portrait of a woman who at the peak of her career decides to enter royalty by marrying the Prince of Monaco. Nicole Kidman, who plays Grace Kelly, gives one of her most sensitive performances, and is ably supported by Tim Roth.

Moreover, I was proud and happy to see that the film was co-produced by an Indian studio, YRF Entertainment, led by Uday Chopra. YRF Entertainment’s parent company, Yash Raj Films, has also co-produced Kanu Behl’s Titli along with Dibakar Banerjee Productions, which will play in the festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

While on Grace of Monaco, one hears that Hollywood producer and distributor Harvey Weinstein and Dahan, who had earlier sparred over the final edit, have declared a truce. There will be only one cut, as compared to Dahan’s version and another one Weinstein cut for the American markets.

This brings me to another question: will a filmmaker attempt to make a similar portrayal or biopic of Sonia Gandhi in the next few years? Gandhi’s personal story is fascinating and could be rivetting for a screen adaptation, if done sensitively.

After the Grace of Monaco screening, I rushed to meet filmmaker Jane Campion, who is the president of the international jury this year. She mentioned a startling fact—Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux told her that only seven per cent of the 1,800 films received for consideration this year were by female filmmakers. Perhaps to counter this, Cannes has chosen five women in the international jury. I remember that two years ago, a group of women film-makers and actors had written an open letter to the French newspaper Le Monde, complaining that, “At Cannes women come to show their boobs while men come to present their films”.

The India story at Cannes remains as shameful as ever. This year, the Union ministry of information and broadcasting gave the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) the mandate of organizing and managing the India Pavilion, which has been competently handled by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) in the past. Many overseas friends, festival programmers and buyers interested in Indian cinema have been asking me about what FICCI is, and what it does. A few years ago, the ministry had given the task to another business body, ASSOCHAM. Why this ridiculous power play? Why couldn’t the NFDC have continued to organize the India Pavilion, given the excellent work the organization has been doing with its various film incubation programmes, including Film Bazaar and screenwriting laboratories? FICCI’s major contribution is to fly down a sculptor from Puri in Odisha to create a sand castle depicting the centenary of Indian filmmaking on the Croisette. Long live Indian cinema!

Sunil Doshi is a producer, talent agent and founder-director of Lumiere Movies and The Adaptation Company. He lives in Mumbai and France.

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