FROM YOUR CANNES CORRESPONDENT
It is both a pleasure and a rare privilege to attend the Cannes Film Festival. Those in-the-know refer to it as a special sort of Carnival - a Cannesival (pronounced with an American drawl). Behind the scenes there is a life of its own and, like the films it promotes, it is an interface of the real and the imaginary, the genuine and the fake, the dream and the fact, truth and fraud, the provider of funds and the thief of ideas.
Acquiring the discernment to identify one from the other is crucial to our existence, to know where the boundaries are, and to know where those barriers can, or should, be breached.
Cannes film parties are legendary although some of the lurid pictures you see in the newspapers are not at all typical. In the social networking that takes place, or any business conference or decision making body, the cosy concensus of a private party where everyone knows everyone else, and what they do, or think, is useless. The most successful of Cannes parties depend on gatecrashers. The barriers between people, which are often artificial, have to be broken down for creativity to be possible.
It is the concept of interface that fascinates me and, I believe, is the heart of our consciousness.
As we traverse the seashore, it is those interfaces of states of matter, solid and liquid, where we find interest, and life. Rock and sand, sand and water, sea and sky: the horizon is our worldline. If we live merely suspended in space, in air, or at float in the sea without sight of land, we have no direction, space is a vacuum and unlimited sand is a desert. But when two states of matter meet, our fascination is, for instance, to see how the waves of water interact with the sand.
But of course it is films that are at the heart of the Film Festival and Cannes is an interesting mix. Many of the commercial blockbusters are launched at this event, Disney's "UP", for instance, but at the heart remain the non-commercial "art" films. These can never expect a commercial return nor are they seen in British cinemas or on TV but are made by people with passion, having something to say. Now in the recession, even the commercial market is less dominated by sex, gratuitous violence and endless Kung Fu. Messages are starting to appear and a series of films have grabbed attention.
Led by Martin Scorsese, the World Cinema Foundation is digitally restoring films that are in danger of being lost. Of these, Al-Momia, an Egyptian film of 1969 is outstanding, about a tribe of grave robbers who plundered the mummies of the mountain of the Valley of the Kings for centuries. Upon inheriting the secret of the treasure of the mountain, the young man rejects the way of life of hacking off the heads of the mummified bodies to steal their jewels. Disaster apparently beholds the whole community, tribe elders murder his brother and other relatives but he narrowly escapes. He rises above the debased values of his surroundings and the film ends
"Rise up, and you shall be resurrected!".
A new Japanese film "Air Doll" is about a "pneumatic figure of a lady", a life-like Japanese sex doll which finds that she has a heart and is given a soul. Secretly by day she goes into the outside world and explores it in the fresh innocence of a new-born. In her interactions with real people filled with flesh and blood rather than merely air, the film explores emptiness and absence of life of those who keep their eyes closed to the beauty around them. "It seems life
is constructed in a way
that no one can fulfill it alone".
A Slovakian film with the title “Heaven Hell Earth” continues with the message “You can drown – or swim up”
Finally a German film from Bavaria entitled "deliver us from evil" goes on to state:
"there are no evil people - only people who lack love".
On the fringes of the festival, outside the barriers, people wanting to save the world stand before the crowds.
The first of these were telling us that in order to stop global warming we should all become vegetarians - "veggies". What a lovely excuse Global Warming is to get us to slow our fuel consumption so that we minimise the chances of wars starting when we realise that petrol is terminally running out: meanwhile the Martians tell us that their ice caps are melting.
We had the Raelians who were handing out balloons and leaflets telling us that "E.T. needs a producer" for the greatest film ever to be made, about the humans who came from outer space and made us in their image. It's an atheistic religion which denies the existence of God in which we are urged to genetically engineer robots in our image to serve us, with parts of their brains "voluntarily" disabled. (Don't we already see people walking around like this with parts of their brains voluntarily disabled, plugged into TV, MP3 players, computers, video games, home theatres and all the materialism that pays for it all?)
Then the Truth Today newspaper appeared, a publicity stunt distributed by Blind Spot Pictures from Finland. Amongst headlines about an IKEA inter-dimensional secret, syndicated stories from the news agency NEUTERS and headlines about Star Wreck 4 bringing back the original cast, the front page proclaimed "MOON NAZIS ATTACK EARTH!!!". The Raelians, expecting a visitation from outer space sometime soon, were asking if this headline were real.
Meanwhile, back behind the barriers, a film documenting the "Vanishing of the Bee" was being launched in the UK tent. This is scheduled for screening in October and the subject matter has many more implications for us than the rather mundane title would suggest. On the way to support a Buddhist prayer demonstration in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and the freeing of all political prisoners in Burma, the Director of the film told me that Einstein said that once the bees started disappearing there would be problems for the world within four years. And that takes us to 2012.
It is in all these ways that we have to explore the boundaries and the barriers. Health and Safety protects us from the risks of doing so, providing a comfort zone protected from fear, real and imaginary. In submitting to it we become barren, useless and unproductive people, lost at sea or in a desert without the thought-tools to work.
In such absence observed through Air Doll, we see people who cannot see good, who cannot see the possibilities, who cannot see God, nor can experience Him using his tools in our lives and nor can they recognise the hints He places in our paths.
God is on the horizon of the unknown and that which we cannot know. If we are to be more than empty people, we have to go explore that interface of the horizon. People often don't because they fear to do so: what they might find might be unknown. Of course, people who don't know God are not evil - "there are no evil people - only people who lack love".
What wonderful films this year - "Rise up, and you shall be resurrected!"
David Pinnegar BSc ARCSHeritage Sustainability Consultant Photography