The jury for the Cannes Film Festival held its annual press conference on Wednesday, discussing how they’ll decide the winner of the Palme d’Or and other prizes when the event closes on May 24.
For the next fortnight, they’ll be holed up (or not so holed up, depending on the juror) watching the films in competition and having regular meetings to discuss their reactions.
The jurors always say the same things — that they’re honored to be here and that they’re looking forward to watching films rather than having to make them.
Joel and Ethan Coen are this year’s chairs. And they’ll guide the other members through the deliberative process. The jurors include the always interesting Rossy de Palma, who shot to fame in the movies of Spain’s Pedro Almodovar. She showed up with a big flower in her hair and looked positively counterculture.
She sat next to French-Canadian star and director Xavier Dolan, who won a jury prize last year at Cannes for “Mommy.” Sienna Miller, the actress, sat next to him. And Joel and Ethan Coen sat in the middle. Also on the panel: American actor Jake Gyllenhaal, actress Sophie Marceau, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and Mali musician Rokia Traore.
Joel Coen, who has been to the festival many times with such films as “No Country for Old Men” and “Barton Fink,” said it was rather fortuitous to get a call from Cannes to be on the jury, since he and his brother weren’t on a movie production at the time. “This gives us an opportunity to come to the festival and actually see movies, which has not ever been our experience,” he said.
Del Toro, who’s also a Cannes regular, said that he, too, was free of production constraints and was glad to come.
The questions from the press at these affairs are always a bit pointless, and it’s a wonder that so many journalists show up, but it’s all rather required.
The Coens were asked about their well-known tendency to avoid TV and small-screen films and were asked about how they viewed movie watching on the Web and on new digital media.
Joel looked surprised by the question, and wondered whether he was being asked: “How do I feel about people watching ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on their Iphone?”
Obviously, he said, there’s nothing to compare with watching a movie on the big screen.
They also responded to questions about their well-known disdain for TV. Both Joel and Ethan said they didn’t watch television, but Joel stressed that he had to be careful because his wife, Frances McDormand, was the star of the recent HBO series “Olive Kitteridge.”
Nothing against TV, he said, but “it’s just not the furrow we’re plowing.”
Gyllenhaal was asked about how he felt about being one of the few actors on the jury. And he responded that as an actor, he has to figure out what parts he wants to take based on a director’s work. So he felt like he would be right at home at a director-oriented film festival.
Del Toro stressed that the jurors agreed that they weren’t there to act like critics and attack movies they dislike. “We are here … to say what we like.”
The press at the festival also got the screening lineup for this year’s official selection. And it’s going to be heavy on the American-related side in the early days.
Gus Van Sant will be presenting “The Sea of Trees,” starring Austin’s Matthew McConaughey on Friday. Also on Friday, we’ll be seeing Natalie Portman’s Israeli-based drama “A Tale of Love and Darkness” and Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.”
Then on Saturday, Todd Haynes will present “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as lesbian lovers in the 1950s.
Later tonight, Italy’s Matteo Garrone will present “Il Racconto dei Racconti,” or “Tale of Tales,” based on the writings of Giambattista Basile.
The big action flick, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” screens Friday morning, followed by a must-attend press conference with director George Miller and stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
“Unimachi Diary,” a competition film from Japan’s Kore-Eda Hirokazu, had the misfortune of premiering opposite the jury press conference, but it will screen again. It’s a family drama about three sisters who discover that they have a teenage half-sister and begin to bond with her.