Cannes Festival- May 21st screenings and press conferences

Cannes Busy Day of Press Conferences: “Paranoid Park” by Gus Van Sant and Angelina Jolie to Special Screenings

Press Conference: “Paranoid Park” by Gus Van Sant

Cannes, France (rushprnews) May 21, 2207 – The film crew of Paranoid Park were on hand to answer questions from the international press today. Present were director Gus Van Sant, actors Lauren McKinney, Taylor Momsen, Gabe Nevins, cinematographer Chris Doyle and producers Marin and Nathanael Karmitz. Excerpts follow.

Gus Van Sant spoke about youth: “I think that Elephant was the first film with an all-young cast… Yes, I’ve been attracted to characters that were young; it’s my calling I guess. (…) I really like working with non professionals, because I think in doing that I try to bring out things that are natural to them, sort of filming that side of them rather than creating from scratch an imaginary piece or having the actor build it. I’ve done both through the different films…I think I was working backwards because I was working with some professionals early on and have become more and more attracted to non-professionals… There are great things to both sides… When you’re casting below a certain age, say 20, you start to need to go the non professional route; there are only certain areas of the world where kids are professional actors.”

Gus Vant Sant on filming bodies in movement and the use of slow motion: “Coming from a visual background, it’s the movement and the blocking, the things that are usually moving are the bodies, the people… Recently there’s been a dislocation from dialogue, that the dialogue is its own idea and entity, and in some ways, some of the films haven’t been a concern of the story or the audience, it’s more coming from the movement, the characters or the movement of the bodies, like a dance. I think that comes from just trying to work with the movement, what I call blocking. It’s always eluding me; it’s not quite the way I want it… Slow motion, it really comes from Chris.”

Chris Doyle on slow motion: “I think it’s because neither of us are skaters and the only way to approach what we assume is the emotional and physical experience of skating was to give it a form that we know and obviously to celebrate this incredible energy and the beauty of movement and the physicality of skating.”

Gus Van Sant on his pessimism of becoming mature adults: “When I was 12 going into high school, I don’t think I was pessimistic but I was afraid because I thought that what I lie ahead was blackboard jungle or something like that. I thought that as a teenager, you have to fight for your life…Maybe today you could think that growing older means fighting in Iraq. There are these things like where will I be in 6 or 7 years.”

Gus Van Sant on the continuity or non continuity of your films: “Some of the psychological voice over or inner journey via voice over was obviously the way of the book; it was pretty much from his point of view, an entire first person account. That was coming mostly from the source material, although I think there’s maybe the same thing going on in all the films when there’s not a specific voice, a character speaking or a voice over. You’re less inclined to nail down the psychology; you’re freer to roam around decide on your own psychology for the film like in Elephant. It comes from the source material. It wasn’t really a reaction or a development.”


All the Cinemas of the World: Spotlight on Lebanon


Today, the Lebanese motion-picture industry takes center stage on the All the Cinemas of the World program, an effort to show a broad range of films being produced in the world with a country-by-country presentation.

Audiences will be able to observe that film production is thriving in Lebanon, the second country to be featured. Filmmakers are inspired by the new sociological, psychological, political, and existential dilemmas engendered by the unending strife. “Whereas films from the 1990s centered on the war as an experience, since 2000, they have become more urban in their identity, focusing chiefly on Beirut,” noted Aimée Boulos, chairman of the Liban Cinéma foundation.

This is certainly true of today’s program, which will include Lamma Hikyit Maryam (When Maryam Spoke Out) by Assad Fouladkar, Le Dernier Homme (The Last Man) by Ghassan Salhab, Yawmon Akhar (Tomorrow Will Be Another Day) by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and Falafel by Michel Kammoun.


Out of Competition – Special Screening: “Boxes” by Jane Birkin


Jane Birkin comes to the Cannes Festival this year to present Boxes, the first film she has ever directed. As an actress, she has been a regular in the past, appearing to promote such Competition selections as The Pirate (1984), Daddy Nostalgia (1990) and La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker, 1991).

As her first directorial effort, Boxes is in the running for a Golden Camera award. It is a bittersweet chronicle of a woman in the midst of crisis. Birkin plays Anna, who has just moved into a new house, full of packing cartons, each of which is a Pandora’s box of memories. At a stage in her life when time is rushing forward at a dizzying pace, Anna tries to get some traction, to confront the past and visualize herself in the future… And perhaps believe in love one more time?

Birkin recalls: “About ten years ago, I began writing about a woman of 45-50 years old…the panic, the mystery, the fears of a specific age… Of what use will she be? She who from the age of 19 was able to give children to the men she loved. What gift can she give now? That age is frightening to Anna as the suspense of puberty… Who will love you with all this baggage, this past history? Or were you just loved for that? It was my question. (…) The film was written at the precise moment when a man, a new man, came into my life, causing havoc to the last teenager still at home. And when the elder children had formulated, not cruelly, but with pain the inevitable reproaches of their young lives, the unexplained or too-specific separations from their fathers… Everyone seemed angry, or hurt.”


Out of Competition: “A Mighty Heart” by Michael Winterbottom


British director Michael Winterbottom, who served as a Cannes Festival juror in 1998, has already presented films in a parallel section (Jude, 1996) and in Competition (Welcome to Sarajevo, 1997; Wonderland, 1999; and 24 Hour Party People, 2002).

This is the first time one of his features has been selected for an Out of Competition screening. A Mighty Heart (2007) is an adaptation of the memoir (with the same title) by Mariane Pearl, widow of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, former Wall Street Journal Southeast Asia bureau chief. While in Pakistan investigating the case of shoe-bomber Richard Reid, who attempted to sabotage a Paris-Miami flight, Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and later executed.

His tragic death, his courage, and his unshakable faith in the power of the press inspired his wife to write this memoir, in which she describe how she endeavored to establish contact with the men who murdered her husband.

Mariane Pearl is played by actress Angelina Jolie, whose companion Brad Pitt acquired the rights to the book in 2003, through his production company Plan B Entertainment. Michael Winterbottom was enthusiastic about the idea immediately: “I was in Pakistan in 2001 when Daniel and Mariane were covering the war in Afghanistan. We were filming In This World in Peshawar when we heard aboutf Danny’s death. So I had my own personal experience Pakistan when I read Mariane’s book, and I was impressed. It seemed very recognizable.” Angelina Jolie, speaking of how she prepared for her role, stated: “Mariane had suffered the ugliest sie of all that is going on in the world today and came out of it believing we cannot just be angry and blinded by hate, but must continue to have a dialogue. If I don’t represent her right, and people don’t see what a beautiful, strong, open-minded, loving woman she is , then I’ve done a disservice and hurt a really great woman.”


Competition: “Paranoid Park” by Gus Van Sant


Winner of both the Golden Palm and Best Director awards in 2003 for Elephant, director Gus Van Sant returns this year with Paranoid Park, a feature-length film in which the characters are once again teenage boys.

This adaptation of Blake Nelson’s novel of the same name follows 16-year-old skateboarder Alex, who accidentally kills a security guard outside Paranoid Park, Portland’s most infamous skateboarding locale. When he decides not to tell anyone, he takes on a crushing burden of guilt.

Shot in both super 8 and 35mm in Gus Van Sant’s hometown Portland, Paranoid Park is unique in that it features young amateur actors hired through MySpace. On this decision, director Gus Van Sant, who has also been honored by the Cannes Festival in the past with the selection of To Die For Out of Competition in 1995 and that of Last Days in Competition in 2005, asserted: “I think this is how all the casting agencies would go about casting high schoolers, especially now when MySpace is so prevalent. We were like the others, just trying to figure out ways to get the word out to non professional people to play in the film.”

-END- press release services

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