Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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Cannes 2007: Of Europe and Asia

This year’s Cannes Competition appears to have ignored Old Europe. There are no films from Britain or Italy or Spain. Indeed there is one German title, Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven”, but this is a co-production with 60 per cent of it in the Turkish language.

There is one Austrian movie to cause a little envy in Germany, but Berlin is not bothered as long as the market for its cinema is good. Last summer, Florian Henckel’s “The Lives of Others” premiered at Cannes market, and went on to win an Oscar and conquer the world.


But Cannes’ love affair with Asian cinema is getting more intense. Maybe even passionate. With Wong Kar-wai’ opening film, “My Blueberry Nights” giving a great shot, Asian cinema is flying high at the Riviera.

This year’s Festival will see “Breath” by Kim Ki-duk, a big name in South Korea. The movie narrates a stirring story of a man on the death row falling for the wife who betrayed him in the first place. “Secret Sunshine”, also from South Korea, comes from Lee Chang-don, a highly regarded name from the country’s cinema. Here, Lee takes on a social challenge – of a widow who travels to her husband’s home to find another tragedy befalling her and taunting her new religious hope.

Naomi Kawase’s Japanese entry “The Mourning Forest” underlines the pain and pathos of a caregiver and an elderly widower in a mountain resort. Kawase is a young woman director, who at 27 won Canne’s Camera d’Or a few years ago.

Some of the films in A Certain Regard, an important sidebar at Cannes, are “Red Balloon” from Taiwan and China’s “Blind Mountain” and “Night Train”.

One hopes these Chinese movies have had proper official sanction to be at Cannes. Last year, Lou Ye brought his “Summer Palace” to the Riviera without Beijing’s nod. He was summarily blacklisted and banned from making films for five years. “Summer Palace” touched on the Tinanmen Square massacre, and after all these years, the subject is sill taboo in China.

(Webposted May 18 2007)