We report back from Cannes

Cornerhouse Film Programme Manager Rachel Hayward reports back from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

I spent a hectic ten days at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, watching the Palme d’or contenders in the official Competition Selection and scouring the market screenings for great new titles for the Cornerhouse programme and ¡Viva! 2013. 

Oh, and I spent countless hours queuing too. The Cannes film market reported an 8% increase in attendances, and you could certainly feel the swell in numbers. Although frustrating, the time spent queuing is always a great way to get recommendations from other festival goers – or tips on what to avoid completely.    

Controversially, the Competition this year was an all-male affair, with no films from female directors. Unforgivable, indeed.  However, some of the most talked about performances this year came from female leads: Marion Cotillard is excellent as an animal trainer who suffers after a horrific accident in Rust and Bone, and Emmanuelle Riva’s performance as a stroke victim is heart-wrenching in Michael Haneke’s stunning Palme d’or winner Amour.      

Alongside Amour, my Competition highlights included two powerful and often harrowing films. The Hunt sees Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas, a recently divorced father living and working at a primary school in a small, closely-knit community. When one of the young pupils makes an accusation of abuse, the adults in the community mercilessly turn on Lucas, including some of his oldest and closest friends. This is a tense film with a great script that has been widely, and quite rightly, hailed as a return to form for director Thomas Vinterberg.  

My second highlight, Beyond the Hills, is set in a Romanian Monastery and is based on the true story of an unusual exorcism that took place in 2005.  Directed by previous Palme d’or winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days), the film focuses on the close friendship of two young women, Alina and Voitcha, who were raised together in an orphanage and then reunited following years of separation. In the time that they’ve been apart, Voitcha has taken her holy vows and has devoted her life to God. But Alina wishes for the pair to resume their life together away from the draconian life in the monastery. Her passionate rejection of the church and its rules sets in motion a devastating series of events which is portrayed on screen with excellent directorial restraint and visual control.        

Ken Loach provided some much needed comic relief with the eminently likable comedy The Angels’ Share. This Glasgow-set crime caper follows a group of young people who get an idea for a perfect scam at a whisky tasting event. This film screens at Cornerhouse from Fri 1 June.

Of all the Competition films, I was disappointed to have missed Leo Carax’s outrageous Holy Motors. By all accounts, this is a cinematic gem and one to look out for when it is released in cinemas later this year.  

Rust and Bone, Amour, The Hunt, Beyond The Hills and Holy Motors will screen at Cornerhouse in Autumn 2012. The Angels’ Share screens from Fri 1 July.