On a rainy afternoon, a large crowd of media professionals and guests from all walks of life stood under or without their umbrellas, waiting for permission to enter the showing of a Western short film entitled A Strange Way of Life. The director is none other than the Spaniard Pedro Almodóvar, who has wide popularity around the world as one of the competent filmmakers. Those whose films are admired and authors write books and lectures about them.
According to witnesses, the gathering started with about 100 people and then quickly increased to more than twice the number. A short film does not mean that it is rejected without interest, especially if its director is highly rated in their field of work.
The great crowd was supposed to enter the huge hall that received them every day. But what happened after more than an hour of waiting, and under the relentlessly pouring rain, is that one of the security employees raised his voice, saying: “The hall is Comple. No places.” Here, the crowd roared. How was it filled and with whom? What about the tickets, which they booked under the threat that if the barrier fails to appear without canceling his ticket at least half an hour in advance three times, he will be punished by preventing him from entering the movies! Each time, the machine must pick up the code to prove to the officials that this or that viewer did not fail to show up. Many wondered how it was possible to cancel the ticket half an hour before, after they filled the place and waited for more than an hour?
The crowd received the security’s request to leave the scene with anger and shouting. Some of those in the front tried to break through the checkpoint, without success. There was nothing any of them could do. Nor did the festival offer an apology. He seldom apologizes for a mistake he made anyway, even if it was such that the discussion that followed the movie that preceded the movie that people flocked to watch exceeded its duration, rather than sticking to it.
The festival is so big and important that nothing sticks in the minds. And if he did, then it does not constitute material for the French media, at least, to write about what happened or to disapprove of it for fear of withdrawing their cards or not accepting them next year. It is true that nothing can be done about the rainy weather since the start of the festival days, but a lot can be done by the administration for more order without trying to organize the arrivals to it.
“There is a feeling of oppression when you wait in the rain and the entry is late,” says an employee of a production company who was one of the victims of that situation, and adds: “Certainly the festival can respect the audience’s desire and their times, and not treat them as something they have to accept.”
A young American journalist who had never attended any of the festival’s sessions, stated that he had always chosen small festivals because they were successful in organizing them. “Here I discovered that I was right.”
To access the films, you have to open the online registration grid and select the films you want (if they are still available) for the next two days only. Then, you wait a day before getting your ticket for tomorrow’s movie. This allows you to stand in a line that will quickly inflate like a balloon, and the smart one will be smarter!
The festival resorted to this system because of “Corona” to avoid gatherings at that dangerous stage. After the end of the epidemic, the situation remained the same. But even last year, when this system was introduced, crowds and lines remained long. The reason is that the technological system for obtaining tickets does not allow one to reserve his seat in advance. If he did, there would be no need for him to come early for fear that he would not find his favorite seat, and therefore there would be no need for people to crowd in the rain or without it. This last quarter of the organization is missing in Cannes. It is present in Berlin and Venice par excellence. The wait in front of the gates does not last more than ten minutes in most cases.
The following days wash away events and paradoxes, one by one. It is true that nothing can be done about the rain, but a lot could be done if the festival wanted it.
Tragedy of a woman
All this has nothing to do with the distinguished aspect of a festival in which everything that any comer is looking for, regardless of the nature of his work. It is undoubtedly an international platform for directors, actors, technicians, producers, and organizations large and small. And he gathers films that may not be equal in quality, but they are carried above the names of well-known directors that other festivals wish to win.
The films shown come one by one, revealing a treasure trove of topics and interests that you would like to raise. Some of them present it with success, while others perceive that success and do not reach it.
Being successful in casting is another act different from being successful in making a movie. All of these films that we watch daily have something to say, and they often say it in a way that satisfies the broad audience. Some of them satisfy the elite as well--
“Four Daughters” by the Tunisian Kawthar Ben Hania, participating in the official competition with a remarkable presence equal to the presence of Nadine Labaki’s film “Capernaum” in the 2018 competition. This is in terms of representing an Arab country in the festival and its success in formulating a plot concerned with social issues that occupy many Arab films, perhaps too much.
In “Four Girls” (or “Daughters of Intimacy” as it was called in French), the director combines the feminist discourse with a semi-recorded tone, which she relied on in “Zeinab Hates Snow” (2016), and the cry she launched in “On the Palm of a Goblin” ( 1917), and it has advanced a lot in the field of using the visual and implicit vocabulary of work than those past films brought.
Here, the director uses a different method to tell a recorded story that mixes drama with avoidance of it. Olfa Hammouri was, in fact, that woman who demanded that two of her daughters not be allowed to join the ISIS militia, and when the officials did not care about her request, she poured out her anger on them. The film reflects that incident, but digs deep into a wound that the mother still lives after losing her two daughters forever.
Hind Sabry plays the role of “Ulfa” with her ability to integrate, and she starred in the movie “The Flower of Aleppo” by Reda El Behi (2018), which deals with the fictional story of a woman whose only son joined an extremist Tunisian group that sent him to Syria to fight against the regime. The mother decides to follow him, claiming that she is also a “jihadist”, with the intention of finding her missing son. The treatment in Ben Hania’s current film is completely different, and the latter does not hesitate to employ the content in a manner that squeezes the tragedy without falling into crude or naive sympathy.
Ben Haniyeh’s film is better than the one he provided for the Turkish competition, Nuri Bilge Chilan, entitled “About Dry Grasses.” The director who won the Palme d’Or in 2014 for “Winter Sleep” always favored long dialogues, but in those The time when he harvested the Palm of the Palm, and before that, the dialogue was an integral part of the picture that in turn talks about Turkish life and its complex personalities of social problems. The dialogue did not dominate the image, unlike his current and previous film, “The Wild Pear Tree.”
The film is a drama in more than three hours full of philosophical, literary and cultural discussions whose impact is lost due to its repetition. At the end of it, the director resorts to an unnecessary voiceover, or perhaps he had a reason in his mind, as he tries through it to get out of the movie by clarifying what is no longer important.
Like him in lengthening and provoking boredom, more than curiosity, Wang Ping’s movie “Black Flies”, which presents, on record, the life and characters of a clothing factory. Vocally tedious, lackluster in its technical treatment, and much longer than it should be, especially since the show is one and does not change. Its purpose may be a social show, but this is not important without accompanying artistic creativity.
Two Moroccan films
From Morocco, two new films: “The Empty Third” by Faouzi Ben Saidi (as part of the “Directors’ Half Month” demonstration) and “Clubs” by Kamal Azraq (the “Un Certain Regard” competition).
In the first, the story of two men who roam the remote Moroccan villages to push production and raise the pace of profits, so that the people can pay the debts and installments due to a financial institution. If the two men succeed in the task, we guarantee that the company will keep them as employees. They are obliged to devise any work method that allows them to maintain their job. The film goes on with its dialogues, despite a good plot. The problem here is the director’s desire to tell a story devoid of events and surprises that deserve appreciation. A disappointing director, as Ben Saidi has made more important and ambitious films in the past, and has secured a good position for himself in his country and abroad. It is interesting to note that his speech before the movie was shown was better than the movie itself.
The “empty third” passes through a camera that does not want to participate in weaving the feeling about what it is located on. She stays far away in many scenes, and even when you capture the two protagonists in close-up scenes, it only brings with it a shift in the distance between the camera and what you’re shooting.
Better than it is Kamal Al-Azraq’s movie “Clubs”, which begins with actual dogs raised by their owners to enter bloody competitions. The tape excuses us from a scene of those animal matches, based on the fact that one of them’s dog caused the death of another dog. The owner of the dead dog asks a man and his son to kidnap the owner of the dead dog in order to take revenge on him. Revenge does not include killing, but the kidnapped person dies anyway after the two men put a bag over the victim’s head and lock him in the trunk of the car. When they discover that the kidnapped has become a corpse, they try to get rid of it in any way.
A thriller about the underground world of Casablanca, reflecting the evils of the characters surrounding these two men. Viewers follow their breathless journey amid a dangerous problem that threatens their lives.
Realistic output in tone and medium, with a failure to pay attention to the issue of time. The film begins at night and ends at night, but in the details of its events it seems that it borrowed additional hours, especially since in one of the scenes it shows snapshots of dawn, followed immediately by the film remaining dark as it began in an endless night.