Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Could Cannes give its first undivided Palme to a Woman?

As the sun (not pictured) sets on the second day of the Cannes Film Festival, attendees are left pondering the question of whether Cannes could — for only the second time — give the top prize to a film directed …

Thu, May 12, 2011, 21:25

   

As the sun (not pictured) sets on the second day of the Cannes Film Festival, attendees are left pondering the question of whether Cannes could — for only the second time — give the top prize to a film directed by a woman. Actually, you could, if you were being mischievous, argue that no woman has ever won a whole Palme. Jane Campion shared hers with Chen Kaige back in 1993.

Following last year’s embarrassment, when no women were in competition, the authorities found a record four places for distaff directors this time round. Rather oddly, they have scheduled three of those four films in the first three days. Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty premiered tonight. Maïwenn Le Besco’s Poliss is is formally unleashed tomorrow.

The least said about the Julia Leigh film the soonest mended. Ms Le Besco’s picture is a decent — if somewhat confused — study of child protection services in Paris. But the Lynne Ramsay film is something else. Already the subject of breathless (deserved) raves, this adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s creepy novel should remain the favourite for — at the very least — another two or three days. There is much to say in the picture’s favour, but Ramsay should be particularly commended for making something so cinematic of a novel written in — of all forbidding literary forms — the epistlory style.

Ramsay has been away for quite a while. The Scot’s first two films, Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar, earned very positive press, but, in the interim, she has got somewhat lost in the heather. After that gap, Lynne now comes across a little like a freshly minted newcomer. I suspect that the jury might want to honour a director who has come close before at this event. The obvious candidate is Pedro Almodóvar, but, as various boffins will argue, his best films tend to be those focussing on women. This year’s entry, The Skin I Live In, is a showcase for old chum Antonio Banderas. Who knows?

With no information worth having, speculating pointlessly, I would guess that the favourite among the unseen pictures is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s  Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. The Turkish director has won the Grand Jury Prize and the best director’s prize, but the big one has not come his way yet. If he were to win, his path to the big gong would resemble that of Apichatpong Weerasethakul last year.

Of course, the film might stink. Who knows? At this stage, you may as well throw a dart at the list.

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