May 21, 2007 / 12:38 AM / 12 years ago

Cannes directors peer into cinema's past

CANNES, France (Reuters) - From Roman Polanski to Nanni Moretti, the Coen brothers and Jane Campion, renowned directors offer glimpses into the history and future of cinema in a tribute to the 60th year of the Cannes Film Festival.

Polish director Roman Polanski attends a news conference for the film "Chacun son Cinema" at the 60th Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2007. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

“Chacun son Cinema” (To Each His Own Cinema) was produced especially for the festival, and in it 35 directors were each given the chance to make a three-minute short film about cinema.

Some of the films moved audiences to tears, others made them laugh; some offered political points, others told of love.

As a whole, the movie gave audiences an idea of why many of the directors did what they did, how they regarded the world’s top film festival and, in some cases, what they viewed as the threats to cinema.

“The lesson is really about the possibility of seeing cinema as a collective adventure,” Brazil’s Walter Salles told reporters about his short, which shows two men in a South American village considering whether to see the seminal French New Wave film “400 Blows.”

Polanski’s segment was humorous and showed a couple viewing an erotic film in a dark theatre and complaining about a man in the back, moaning and groaning. Little did they know, the man had fallen from the balcony and hurt his back.

New Zealand’s Campion offered “The Lady Bug,” about a misunderstood female bug who wants to dance on a theater stage but is squashed by a cleaning man who finds her a nuisance.


At a news conference after the film, where more than 30 of the directors were present, Campion was asked how it felt to be the only woman on stage.

She said it was “sad” that more female directors were not given the chance to make movies but added that many of the male directors felt the same way.

“I think the feminine is such a strong and important aspect to our humanity,” Campion said.

Directors Joel and Ethan Coen offered a short called “World Cinema,” in which an American cowboy walks into an art-house theater and is talked into seeing a Turkish movie.

In the end, the cowboy likes what he sees and wants to discuss it with a bohemian-looking theater worker.

Italian Moretti takes audiences through a list of movies that caused him to become a cinema lover, then jokes that his son might want to see a Hollywood thriller rather than his own films, such as “The Son’s Room,” which won Cannes’ top award, the Palme d’Or, in 2001.

Canadian directors Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg offered bleak looks at the future of an art form that’s either dead or dying as a result of greater use of cell phones, video cameras and the abundance of live, thoughtless television.

Egoyan’s film sparked a lively conversation in the news conference between himself and Polanski, who argued that new technologies have long threatened the cinema, yet directors have adapted with new, challenging entertainment.

“I remember the same type of debate when tapes and cassettes came out,” Polanski said.

Egoyan noted that Polanski’s films had spurred him to make movies and that “for a young audience, now, (your movies) would be seen on a small screen and they wouldn’t be the same.”


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