25 May 2024, 16:49

Politically charged Cannes heads to awards night

CANNES, France, May 25, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - The 77th Cannes Film Festival draws
to a close Saturday after a politically charged edition full of blood and

Emotions ran high Friday on the final day of screenings, when Iranian
director Mohammad Rasoulof premiered his film "The Seed of the Sacred Fig"
after escaping a prison sentence in his home country just days before the

It was among the last of 22 entries competing for the Palme d'Or, the top
prize of the world's leading film get-together.

Attention now turns to the jury, led by "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig, which
will deliver its verdicts at the closing ceremony late Saturday.

After a slow start to the festival, with middling reviews for early entries,
the race picked up in the closing days.

Many are betting the winner will be a highly original musical about a Mexican
narco boss having a sex change, "Emilia Perez", by French director Jacques
Audiard, who already has a Palme under his belt.

It has stiff competition from "Anora" by US indie director Sean Baker.

Critics have loved his raw and often-hilarious story about a New York erotic
dancer who strikes gold with a wealthy client, only to face the wrath of his
Russian oligarch parents.

Its star, 25-year-old Mikey Madison, could be a contender for best actress.

But many think that could go to comeback-queen Demi Moore after rave reviews
for her "fearless" performance in "The Substance", an ultra-gory horror film
about the pressures women face to maintain bodily perfection as they age.

There was a notable paucity of meaty roles for men this year.

Many were impressed by Sebastian Stan's turn as Donald Trump in "The
Apprentice", a surprisingly nuanced biopic about the ex-president's formative
years, that also featured a terrific turn from "Succession" star Jeremy
Strong as Trump's mentor-lawyer Roy Cohn.

It has not gone down well with Trump's real-life team, who called the movie
"garbage" and threatened to sue over its depiction of him raping his wife,
suffering erectile dysfunction, and ruthlessly betraying those around him.

A late dark horse is "All We Imagine as Light", the first Indian entry in 30

It is a poetic monsoon-set portrayal of two nurses who have migrated to
Mumbai, described as a dreamlike five-star "triumph" by The Guardian.

- 'Powerful indictment' -

It seems almost guaranteed that Rasoulof will get some sort of prize for "The
Seed of the Sacred Fig", which tells the story of a court investigator whose
family life is torn apart by the "Women, Life, Freedom" protests that
convulsed the country in 2022-23.

Critics described it as a "deeply upsetting masterwork" (IndieWire) and a
"powerful indictment of Iranian oppression" (The Hollywood Reporter).

Rasoulof, who has been imprisoned in the past for his uncompromising films,
came under pressure in Iran to withdraw from the festival.

But he already knew during production that he faced a new eight-year prison
sentence for "collusion against national security" and hatched a plan to
escape the country, announcing he was free just one day before Cannes started
last week.

"I hope the entire apparatus of oppression and dictatorship will disappear
from Iran," he told the packed Cannes theatre, where he brandished photos of
the movie's actors and received a long standing ovation.


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