Cannes Film Fest kickstarts with Blindess, jury meet held

CANNES: The 61st Cannes Film Festival kickstarted at the French Riveria on 14 May.

The mood was buyoant and the place abuzz with people from all across the world.

The opening film, which is also in the competition, was Blindness. The movie is directed by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles.

An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago, this political and philosophical thriller is the first film competing for the 61st Golden Palm award.

Amongst the stars present at the Palais on the first day were Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Santiago Amigorena, Gillian Anderson, Claudine Auger, Edouard Baer, Jack Black, Rachida Brakni, Amira Casar, Faye Dunaway, Gad Elmaleh, Ronit Elkabetz, Ayako Fujitani, Gael García Bernal, Danny Glover, Suheir Hammad, Philippe Harel, Eva Longoria, Guy Marchand, Elli Medeiros, Ornella Mutti, Aishwarya Rai, Mark Ruffalo, Pierre Santini, Rodrigo Santoro, Gaspard Ulliel, Lambert Wilson, Susannah York, Alice Braga, Yusuke Iseya, Elsa Zylberstein and Vahina Giocante.

The jury of the 61st edition of the Festival of Cannes met the press today. Journalists questioned the members – president Sean Penn, actresses Jeanne Balibar, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, actor Sergio Castellitto and directors Marjane Satrapi, Rachid Bouchareb, Alfonso Cuarón and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.


Penn said on the new addition to the Festival of the President’s Choice, “I had seen the film [The Third Wave by Alice Thompson] about six months ago. I thought it was such an important movie because, with the state of the world being what it is and the unlikelihood that the problems will be solved by politicians, made this film particularly poignant for me. It is a journey of volunteerism that is so courageous and so emotional and so inspiring that I thought it was the closest thing I had ever seen on film to giving any kind of answer to what is the purpose of life, at least for those who might be lucky enough to have two good legs and a dollar in their pocket.”

“And these very selfless people went to Sri Lanka about eleven days after the Tsunami hit and they left a village with that kind of final frontier that was the ability to take care of itself. So I thought that at this time in film, that something like that was important. I asked Thierry Frémaux and asked if he would discuss it with Gilles Jacob, and they did. And I’m very grateful that they found a place for it,” Penn added.

On the jury and prize-giving, Penn said, “The idea here is that we are going to see 22 movies. This is a very talented [jury] and I think like-minded in our approach towards how we are going to receive the movies. In my view, it won’t be a competition; what will happen is that we will come to a consensus: no film to be hurt and some films that deserve it to get a leg up and to be celebrated and to be shared for a wider audience, which we know the stamp of Cannes has long had and earned.”

Portman on the Cannes experience,
“I am extremely honored to be part of this jury. Obviously Cannes represents the height of cinema from all around the world. It’s an incredible opportunity to get to see so many films, from so many different countries.”

“It’s a great pressure to judge all these great films and to be in the position of a judge is very humbling, because all the filmmakers are so incredible and who am I to say something, but I will,” Portman added.