The Festival International du Film or what is more popularly known as the Cannes Film Festival will be one of the most important platforms this year for Indian cinema besides the Berlin Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival. There aren’t many events of this scale and grandeur that encourage independent film-makers and experimental art than this and the Indian subcontinent has amply made its presence felt.
Since the humble beginnings of the festival in 1942, India has always been in the forefront with classic films that defined the movie landscape in our age.
Everyone comes to Cannes, it is said. It couldn’t be truer in the month of May every year when the cinema of the world, its makers and its stars, descend on the French Riviera to attend the Festival de Cannes.
1946 was the year when we made an indelible mark on World cinema. The festival had resumed after a six year long hiatus during World War II when Chetan Anand’s acclaimed Neecha Nagar shared the top award – Grand Prix du Festival International du Film – with David Lean’s Brief Encounters Brief Encounter. Neecha Nagar, starring Kamini Kaushal and Zohra Sehgal, was the first Indian film to make it to the global spotlight. The Grand Prix award has now been rechristened Palme d’Or.
V Shantaram’s Amar Bhoopali, a period piece biopic of Marathi poet Honaji Bala, was nominated for the Grand Prize in 1952 and won the award for Best Sound Recording.Bimal Roy’s socio-economic tour de force Do Bigha Zamin, starring Balraj Sahni, won the Prix Internationale in 1954.
Taking the legacy forward
Besides the rockstar Anurag Kashyap’s Director’s Showcase of Raman Raghav 2.0, whose trailer promised us a chilling Hannibal-esque avatar of the brilliant Nawazuddin Siddiqui earning him a standing ovation, there are several other films that have grabbed the attention of the Cinefondation jury, making it to Cannes official list of World Cinema.
Saurav Rai, a student of Kolkata’s Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI), will make his debut with his 28-minute Nepali-language diploma film Gudh (Nest). Rai’s film is among 18 titles – 14 fiction and four animation – selected from 2,300 entries received from film academies across the world for the Cinefondation competition, now in its 19th year. “The film seeks to capture the vivid memories that I have of my growing up years,” says 29-year-old Rai. “The political turmoil in Darjeeling forms a minute backdrop.”
The other Indian film in the Cannes official selection – Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya’s The Cinema Travellers, a documentary on Maharashtra’s travelling tent theatres – represents a journey of a completely different kind. The 96-minute film, made over a period of eight years with the support of the India Foundation for the Arts, the Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University and Goethe-Institut India, is part of the festival’s Cannes Classics section, which includes nine documentaries on cinema history.
“Film watching is a community experience,” says Madheshiya. “When one sees the enthusiasm that this tradition still generates, one can understand what people who were first exposed to the medium through the films of the Lumiere brothers would have felt.”
Films to look out for
At the 2015 New York Film Festival, Martin Scorsese said about film preservation: “Then they realised that there’s no such thing [as] “an old film is just a film,” but, as Peter Bogdanovich said, “there’s also film that you’ve never seen.”
That’s the essence of Cannes which has always introduced amazing concepts into films and which has consequently given us several classics like Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, Polanski’s The Pianist among others.
So here’s a list of films that were showcased this year and will be on our must-watch list:
- Steven Spielberg’s The BFG
- Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0
- Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper
- Woody Allen’s Café Society
- Jeff Nichols’ Loving
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of the films. We do not own any of these images in any form whatsoever.