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.
Almost every screening is a worldwide premiere. There’s the new Soderbergh, Payne, Coen Brothers, Polanski, Jarmusch, and Gray films. James Franco has directed an adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and Ryan Gosling has reteamed Nicolas Winding Refn for an adventure in Thailand. It seems every country or project has its own party that conflicts with another party. I’m told the Opening Galas require men to wear bowties and women to be in evening gowns. Other screenings may require you to show up an hour early to get in. It’s almost too much to wrap your mind around.
But I’m only here to cover the Asian films, which makes it all a bit more manageable. This year’s Asian films in Competition include Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son, and Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw.
And this year’s guest country is India, boasting new films from Anurag Kashyap (Ugly), Amit Kumar (Monsoon Shoutout), Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), and Bombay Talkies (an anthology film by Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap) — as well as 2011’s Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (basically a documentary that revisits 70 years of Bollywood romance), which is, get this… a screening on the beach.