Cannes jury explains award selections

CANNES: For the fifth time in the history of the Festival de Cannes, the Jury explained their award selections. At the press conference, President Sean Penn and jurors Jeanne Balibar, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, Marjane Satrapi, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Alfonso Cuarón and Apichatpong Weerasethakul answered questions from the journalist.

The highlights are as follows:

Sean Penn explained their first choice: “We all wondered about that as we all have had films in festivals before, and the concern about placement and so on. My own view is that I truly believe that our response would have been the same at any point during the Festival. The generosity of this picture just reaches out and I don’t think it has anything to do with scheduling.”

Sean Penn on why Waltz with Bashir did not garner any prizes: “I was happy to find out that buzzes mean nothing; this Jury was entirely not influenced and I can tell you that I would agree with you, but we had only so many prizes to give. There were several people – myself included – who found it a worthy film. As I said during the ceremony, there were things that called out and there were times where we felt that we had almost certainly a certain category fulfilled and then something else would come and provoke us in a different way. There’s not a good answer to this question. Even though I did not particularly argue for it ultimately, I think it was a wonderful film. I also believe that it is a film that is going to find its audience with or without us.”

Marjane Satrapi, on the Palme d’Or: "We all fell in love with it immediately. It’s a film that goes beyond the bad neighborhoods, beyond school, to raise the real question of democracy, of all these people who live together. What’s more, it doesn’t give any answers. Often [in a film], you see a teacher who miraculously settles all the problems in the end. This film doesn’t give any answers, but it contains all the questions that are troubling people. I’m also impressed by the quality of the acting and the obvious realism. I was a fervent admirer of this film."

Sean Penn on the Palme d’Or: "One of the reasons that we agreed unanimously on the Palme d’Or – we start with the art of film. And in that integration and completeness of integration: virtually a seamless film. All of the performances: magic. All of the writing: magic. All of the provocations, and all of the generosity: magic. It’s simply everything that you want film to give you. On top of that, because of the things that it takes on, and the issues that it confronts, and the timeliness of them, in a world that, everywhere you go, hungers for education and for a voice – it just touched us so deeply."

Alfonso Cuaron on the reach of the film: “This is one of those rare films in which we’re talking about high cinema that you can share with really young audiences. That is what it has to say, in the world in which we are living. They are going to be the ones who will be in charge of finding solutions, in the very difficult world they are inheriting.”

Sergio Castellito on the Palme d’Or: “As I watched this film, I thought of myself as a father, speaking to my son’s teachers. That gives the film a universal social reach, without any loss to its poetry… It’s a film that seems to have been shot live, that lasts two hours, and covers a one-year period. This narrative quality is amazing."

Sean Penn on the 61st Festival de Cannes Award: “I think that they [Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood] and others are largely, for many of us, why we got into film. When people like that who we have lived within cinema for a very long time, and are still inventive and are still expressing, practicing their craft on even a higher level than perhaps they previously did, it’s the kind of encouragement that makes film happen. I won’t say that we felt indebted, it’s just in a form that by definition has artifice to it. It would be so artificial to not acknowledge them and the weight that their work and their presence brought this Festival.”

Jeanne Balibar on the Palme d’Or "I was grateful to this film for not leaving out any contradictions. I was grateful to this director for never claiming to have resolved them, either for the people on the screen, the audience, or French society. I think he exposes them, in all their violence. It might be the most violent film we saw… In my opinion, the highest expression of art is in contradiction, with its harsh truth and its hope."

Sergio Castellito on the two Italian films that got awards: “I thought of these two films as being twins in the same belly. They complement each other, in a way… We members of the jury were all wondering what a Western civilian democracy, right in Europe, can hide? I think both of these directors succeeded in taking a good, hard look, for all of us.”

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