Blue Is The Warmest Color hasn’t had an easy road since it won the top prize at Cannes in May. First Abdellatif Kechiche’s film was ruled ineligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar …
Sundance Selects To Release Palme d’Or Winner ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ With NC-17 Rating In The US
EXCLUSIVE: When controversial French sensation Blue Is The Warmest Color won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, it was expected to be a major player in the upcoming Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film. Now it’s ineligible to compete and not even impassioned pleas from Sundance Selects, its American distributor, have done the trick. This unexpected development as first reported on Deadline is due to its October 9th French opening. Local distributor Wild Bunch will not change the date in order to comply with an arcane Academy rule that says each film must have opened in the country of origin by the end of September. Now Sundance Selects/IFC Films President Jonathan Sehring who picked up the U.S. rights to Blue in Cannes is very disappointed that this decision appears irreversible. “I talked to them about it and said it was a missed opportunity if you don’t qualify it. So they actually were going to do a qualification run in the town where it was shot in Northern France,” Sehring tells me. “But ultimately the French governing body said no. It had to be a wide release in order for it to qualify and so [Wild Bunch] called and said ‘We don’t want to move off our date. We have a great date.’ It’s unfortunate.”
Although it won’t help Blue this year, Sehring hopes the Academy will deep-six the September 30th eligibility date and change it in the future to be more reflective of the realities of the international film industry. “It’s a global business right now and [it's not good] to hold the Foreign Language titles to a September 30th date. This present Academy administration has been really great about re-visiting things that don’t really make sense and I’m just hoping that will happen.” However as a distributor he does fully understand the Wild Bunch decision and its box office potential in France. “What could be better than that for them? If the French want to choose it as next year’s title I can always hope there, but unfortunately it didn’t work out in terms of qualification,” he said.
We are at the end of a long Cannes, and jury members have had the opportunity to see all 20 films in the main competition. But who wins the Palme d’Or? I have learned that jury president Steven Spielberg has specifically instructed his colleagues to remain tight-lipped and not provide any clues. Cannes juries anyway are notoriously hard to predict and critical reaction through the festival doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But, jumping into the shark-infested waters of predictions, I would say frontrunners for the Palme d’Or are likely Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s stunning The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color (thanks to buzz), and possibly Iranian director Asghar Farhardi’s The Past which was shot in Paris and mostly in French. I also would throw in the wonderfully heartfelt Japanese entry Like Father, Like Son, a truly moving film from director Kore-Eda Hirokazu. It’s a long-shot but human emotion goes a long way with juries. I could have picked J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost with a virtuoso performance from Robert Redford but for some reason it was shown out of competition and not eligible. Otherwise it would have been in the top tier of contenders. Watch for a possible sleeper with the Chinese entry (their first in a few years) ,A Touch Of Sin from director Jia Zhangke who is overdue. Reaction was mixed overall to the overlong four-segment story that examines China today warts and all in some cases. Plus it has some pretty extreme violence. But he could win a prize as a statement supporting more honest and open China filmmaking which this seems to represent. Further down the list are Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and James Gray’s beautifully realized period piece The Immigrant, at least in terms of Palme d’Or buzz for both very American directors. The wild card is likely Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra since he said it’s his last film for the forseeable future. But that could be hampered by the fact it premieres on HBO in the U.S. tomorrow and most think it is more likely to win for its acting, specifically Michael Douglas.
The last three days of the festival saw the sun come out on the Croisette and the quality of films particularly impressive. High profile contenders holding premieres included Nebraska, The Immigrant, and the much touted by critics 3-hour French teen lesbian drama Blue Is The Warmest Color. Followed by Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur had its official premiere Saturday night. This entertaining French language adaptation of the hit Broadway play stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner in an actress audition that turns into a sexual game of cat and mouse with her director portrayed by Mathieu Amalric (who looks uncannily like a younger Polanski – likely on purpose).
The acting categories will provide the most Solomon-like decisions for the jury. Michael Douglas may receive a prize alone or add his equally fine co-star Matt Damon. The actor race is impossibly crowded and also includes the magnificent Toni Servillo of Great Beauty, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruce Dern and Will Forte of Nebraska, and Amalric of Venus In Fur. And if the jury is watching closely there’s a truly moving performance from Masaharu Fukuyama as the flawed parent in Like Father, Like Son. I would also give a shout-out to the excellent Souleymane Deme as Grigris in a film that didn’t get a lot of traction. On the women’s side, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux could be honored together or apart for brave and explicit work in Blue Is The Warmest Color.
It’s all over now, and really all over at Cannes for the American contingent of five competition entries plus English-language films like Walter Salles’ On The Road and David Cronenberg’s not-well-received Robert Pattinson starrer Cosmopolis. The Cannes Jury led by italian actor-director Nanni Moretti has spoken and Americans hoping for a repeat of last year when the single U.S. entry, The Tree Of Life actually won the Palme d’Or, are crying in their french onion soup. At the post-awards press conference American jury member Alexander Payne was asked if he thought the ‘Americannes’ snub said anything about the overall quality of the country’s movies. He snapped back that one festival does not speak for the state of cinema in any one country.
The closest thing to a film American audiences won’t need subtitles for is Ken Loach’s wonderful The Angels’ Share which is set in Glasgow and features accents so thick the filmmaker decided to add English subtitles. It is also the only comedy to take a prize as the jury mainly favored some of the more dour, serious-minded films in the race. Cannes juries often do that. Backstage Loach was elegant when he said his film shows solidarity with all those in Europe who resist austerity and believe “another world, a better world is possible”.
There’s also one head-scratcher just about every year and this year it’s a beheaded scratcher, Post Tenebras Lux from Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas in which a man rather remarkably manages to twist off his head using only his hands. There’s also a pointless orgy scene thrown in but even its defenders are hard-pressed to say what this film is about. So of course they gave him a major prize, Best Director. At the press conference at least two of the jurors strongly defended the film. They were so convincing they had me believing that I must have seen a different film.
Michael Haneke’s Amour today took the Palme d’Or prize for Best Film at the finale to this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A hugely popular win at today’s ceremony as well as its premiere, the intimate drama about an elderly couple …