May 22, 2013: No, Ryan Gosling was not there, but despite his absence, my last night in Cannes ended with a bang… plus some stabbing, gorging, and good ol’ fashion beheading. Luckily, the bloodiness was all onscreen, courtesy of Nicolas Winding Refn in his latest film Only God Forgives.
But let me rewind. By Wednesday morning, most of the Asian films I still wanted to see were either not playing anymore (Ilo Ilo) or too difficult to get into (The Lunchbox), so I figured this was a good time to try to get into a famous Cannes press conference — all available for viewing online, but obviously much more exciting in person.
The thing with Cannes is that even if you don’t necessarily see celebrities that often (or if you do, it’s often from far away or as part of a formal Q&A), you know that they are there… everywhere, all the time. This is not only because you go online and Cannes photos are all over news sites and blogs, but there are large TV screens both inside and outside the main venues, where it’s often live-streaming celebrities in the press conferences or on the red carpet. So even if you’re separated by a conference room wall or blocked by a crowd of photographers, every few hours, it’s like — Oh, Robert Redford is here. And there’s Justin Timberlake. Nicole Kidman and Ang Lee. Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet. Andy Lau and Sammie Cheung. Aishwarya Rai. Repeat for every single country that boasts a thriving film business around the world.
But there was something about the Only God Forgives press conference that shined brightest, which had everything to do with us being serious Asian entertainment journalists interested in Hollywood making films in Thailand… and not at all related to the fact that we thought Ryan Gosling might be there. Of course not.
This pretense was greatly tested when we arrived, and there was no Ryan Gosling name plate on the table.
Diary from Cannes: Day 6
May 21, 2013: People always talk about how exhausted you’ll be at the end of Cannes, but what they don’t say is: unless you’re smart enough (or funded enough) to come several days early so you can adjust to the new time zone, you actually start Cannes exhausted. The cheapest trip I could find resulted in two three-hour stopovers and a total of 20 hours in transit, during which I was desperately trying to finish up unfinished assignments… and not quite succeeding… resulting in even more sleeplessness as I came home from late-night Cannes screenings and stayed up even later to write.
At the Cannes Film Festival, which just ended last week, the Chinese actress — and Un Certain Regard Juror — made 10 outfit changes over the course of 12 days.
Here are our 5 favorite looks.
5. In Carolina Herrera at The Bling Ring premiere
Diary from Cannes 2013: Day 5
May 20, 2013: As Sunday ended with a Midnight Screening that didn’t end until almost 3am Monday morning (and an after-Andy Lau high that probably didn’t end until 5am), the next day would inevitably be less lively.
So of course, no better way to start off a “less lively” day than seeing back-to-back films about Cambodian genocide and the Bataan death march after World War II.
Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture is based on the Cambodian filmmaker’s own experience during the Khmer Rouge regime, when Panh lost all his family before escaping to Thailand in 1975. He decides to tell his own story through hundreds of clay figures that are not animated, but strung together like a photo slideshow, interspersed with archival footage from the regime’s own propaganda files — some of which had appeared in Panh’s earlier acclaimed work. An interview with the director can be found at Asia Pacific Arts.
Diary from Cannes 2013: Day 4
May 19, 2013: The sun came out on Sunday, and so did… every single Asian film that I wanted to see.
What I got used to very quickly as a first time Cannes attendee (with a low-priority press badge) is that every single day, I’d look through the list of hundreds of press screenings, competition screenings, and market screenings; plan my day in at least three different formations amidst much confusion and indecision; and then when I finally decided on my schedule, at least a third of it would fall through for some reason or another (screening full, interview ran late, starving and took too long to find your third £5 tomato/ham/mozzarella baguette sandwich of the day; heard someone yell “Marion Cotillard!” and found yourself zombie-walking into the paparazzi crowd instead of power walking away); and I’d end up just improvising my way through the day.
It’s what keeps the festival exciting. And normally, it’s smart to pace yourself, but Sunday’s lineup was out of control. Too many good things to see in too little time.
Diary from Cannes 2013: Day 3 (May 18, 2013)
After getting a quick glimpse of the beautiful beach weather that Cannes is known for on Friday, Saturday was full of storms and winds. But that didn’t stop crowds from lining up outside the theaters with their umbrellas to wait for today’s lineup of films. Perhaps the rain actually increased the popularity of the screenings, as festivalgoers preferred ducking in to theaters for shelter, as opposed to ducking into overpriced restaurants.
The day started promisingly with the premiere of Bends, a debut film from Hong Kong’s Flora Lau. The quiet drama starring Carina Lau as a wealthy Hong Kong socialite and Chen Kun as her mainland Chinese chauffeur with a pregnant wife was a nice surprise, but perhaps the quality of the film shouldn’t have been so surprising, because it was clearly accepted into Cannes without the boost of a known auteur at the helm.
Diary from Cannes 2013: Day 2
May 17, 2013: A dramatic day for Cannes today, including gunshots and a jewelry heist. An employee for the luxury jeweler Chopard found that a safe holding $1.4 million dollars worth of jewelry had been stolen from the four-star hotel room the night before. Ironically, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, about teenagers who steal possessions from celebrities, had just premiered the day before.
Later in the day, a mentally unstable man with a gun fired blanks into the air near a French television interview featuring jury members Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil. Attendees fled the scene, but no one was hurt, and the man was arrested.
But the show went on, regardless. Today was the premiere of Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin:
As well as the premiere of Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly. He was honored with the French honour Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his efforts in the promotion of Indian cinema across the globe.
It was also the premiere of Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, his much anticipated follow up to his 2011 Oscar-winning film, A Separation. This time, an Iranian man’s trip back to France to sign divorce papers causes him to get re-entangled into personal complications of his soon-to-be ex-wife, played by Bérénice Bejo (The Artist). Family drama has never kept me literally on the edge of my seat.
The night ends with a Tony Leung and Carina Lau spotting at the gala screening of Jia Zhangke’s Touch of Sin. Carina Lau stars in Hong Kong director Flora Lau’s first feature Bends, which will be premiering tomorrow as part of Un Certain Regard….
Diary from Cannes 2013: Day 1
May 16, 2013: It’s my first time at the Cannes Film Festival, attending as a writer/editor on behalf of Asia Pacific Arts and Audrey Magazine. I’ve been told to expect a crazy circus — as there are hundreds of screenings for both the official Film Festival and the simultaneous Film Market — and I can’t wait.
The day before, Baz Luhrman, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Amitabh Bachchan walked the red carpet for the Opening Night film, The Great Gatsby. Also in attendance was the superstar jury, headed this year by Steven Spielberg, which include Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman, Lynne Ramsay, Christoph Waltz, Cristian Mungiu, Naomi Kawase, Daniel Auteuil, and Vidya Balan.
Ang Lee has done more than anyone to bring attention to the Taiwanese film industry, shooting much of his 3D fantasy film Life of Pi in Taipei and Taichung — and always making sure to thank Taiwan in those Oscar speeches, even if his film is about gay cowboys in Wyoming. But Taiwan’s local films have had a recent commercial resurgence as well, catapulted by 2008′s super hit Cape No. 7. More recently, successful films include You Are The Apple of My Eye, Monga, and Seediq Bale, in addition to Taiwan/China co-productions like the ensemble romantic comedy Love. At the same time, Taiwanese dramas are as rampant as ever — and all of this brings us a wealth of new Taiwanese leading ladies.
A comprehensive list that spans decades would definitely include Taiwanese talents such as Sylvia Chang, Brigitte Lin, Lu Yi-Ching, Mavis Fan, Barbie Hsu, Rene Liu, Vivian Hsu and more. But for this year’s Women’s History Month showcase, we’re going to concentrate on young actresses ruling commercial Taiwanese film and television today.
Click on to see the ten ladies!
We’re giving away Blu-ray combo packs of Ang Lee’s award-winning film Life of Pi!
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FROM OSCAR® WINNING DIRECTOR ANG LEE COMES THE INSPIRATIONAL. EPIC JOURNEY, LIFE OF PI, ON BLU-RAY COMBO PACK & DVD MARCH 12
Life of Pi is the film that earned Taiwanese American director Ang Lee his second Best Director Academy Award at this year’s Oscars. Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel, the film stars newcomer Suraj Sharma as Pi, alongside veteran actors including Irrfan Khan (as the older Pi), Tabu, Adil Hussain and Gérard Depardieu.
Lee brought what many thought was an un-filmable story onto the big screen. With the help of the visual effects company Rhythm and Hues Studios, the Life of Pi team staged a devastating shipwreck, turned a water tank in Taiwan into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and brought to life a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker shares much screen time on a lifeboat with Suraj Sharma’s Pi.
In addition to Lee’s Best Director win, Life of Pi took home three other Academy Awards (Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Original Score), earning the most Oscar wins of any film this year.
The film is currently available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and DVD.