Gavin Smith: What are the highlights for each of you so far?

Todd McCarthy: I didn’t expect it to be this way but I’ve really liked the American films. I think they’ve had a great showing. I loved the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra. I liked James Gray’s The Immigrant, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, James Franco’s As I Lay Dying, and James Toback’s documentary Seduced and Abandoned, which I’m in, so I’m prejudiced. But I think it’s been a really good year for the Americans. I actually found I’m a little annoyed at what I consider the lack of sharp storytelling skills among a lot of the European directors. I love the way Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is directed but I think it has a structural problem. I like Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, but it goes on an hour too long. I’m struck time and time again that the classical virtues of storytelling are being ignored by so-called top directors and auteurs of other countries.

Castle in Italy

A Castle in Italy

Jonathan Romney: I think there is a resistance to the classical storytelling virtues because a lot of filmmakers think that to develop these virtues is some sort of self-repression, whereas overdevelopment, which is a problem we have especially in Britain, can squeeze the life out of a film. The Great Beauty isn’t about storytelling. What he’s doing is trying to create what you could call a city symphony film about Rome, and it’s my favorite film here. It was euphoric and gave an absolutely firework-like display just in the pure joy of creating images. Whether ultimately it is anything more than an elaborate and beautiful imagistic remix of La Dolce Vita I think posterity will tell, but for now I think it’s an extraordinary experience. Similarly Blue Is the Warmest Color is simply trying to push duration as far as it can because Kechiche wants to capture something about the feel of life in the way you can’t with a well-structured narrative, and that film was extraordinary in the intensity of the performances. We’ve all seen a number of films where you have people crying, and they’re really crying—but here it’s fountains of snot cascading out of one of the actresses’ noses. You could see that the material touched some emotional nerve. Also in terms of representing sexuality, lesbian sexuality in particular, and the unfettered way it’s portrayed, I think it breaks new ground. The film that really excited me in a way that others didn’t is the four-hour Lav Diaz film Norte, the End of History, which I felt was extraordinary. It’s Crime and Punishment. In terms of using those four hours to take a narrative in unexpected directions, it was beautiful and unexpected.

TM: I agree with you about The Great Beauty, but I think it sets up some things in the first two thirds of the film that it doesn’t follow up on, and so I think it went off before the end because Sorrentino didn’t even remember some of the things he had set up. Films don’t have to follow formula by any means, but just in terms of what they intend to do and whether they follow through

JR: There’s really tight storytelling in Inside Llewyn Davis, and it’s so effortless. It’s really one of the Coen Brothers’ best films.

Alexander Horwath: I want to first pick up the term “euphoric” that Jonathan used. For me it’s the first year in the 27 years I’ve been attending that, near the end of the festival, I have not seen one film that I would describe as “euphoric.” I was thinking of other recent festivals and I found that Berlin 2012, which had Tabu and Barbara, was a stronger festival than Cannes 2013 and that’s never something I thought I would say, because Cannes generally is seen as being so far above other festivals. So it’s been a generally good festival but certainly there has been nothing that made me feel euphoric. I do have to say that while all the American films I saw in competition were good, I tend to agree more with Jonathan that ways of storytelling like the Lav Diaz film, which I admire, and another film from Un Certain Regard, Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake, may not fall into a certain structure of storytelling, but have a certain tightness and condensation. The way Guiraudie brings together that one location and a few characters in a really gripping and in the end mysterious way, has a quality that is also the sign of strong storytelling even though he comes from a very different tradition. While I liked them, I see the limits in something like Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra and James Gray’s The Immigrant. Both are sympathetic works, but there is a formula even in those well-made things. The Soderbergh is like 150 other biopics about a rise and fall. It’s incredibly well acted, but there’s a limit to that. Both films are okay, but don’t really stand out.

Whereas Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is by far my favorite American film. It hits Renoir territory in that there is an interest in the smallest to the largest characters alike—the tiniest shades of their emotions and interactions—and it is surprising and funny even though it has a roughly conservative shape compared to more modernist or extreme works. I find the few films I liked in the Competition all seemed to fall on the more conservative side, with nothing fancy or special stylistically. I think I’m one of the few people who likes Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy. It connects with the commedia all’italiana style. Her tonal shifts between comedy and tragedy are amazing. Desplechin’s Jimmy P., which also is more conservative in some ways than some of his previous films. Those films that do not offer a virtuoso stylistic display or so-called innovative forms of presenting the action are the ones I have closest to my heart at this point in the festival.

Marco Grosoli: I was wondering if Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman also fits into your attitude toward storytelling. It seems to me its fault was the opposite, it was too excessive in its mechanical construction.

JR: I think the problem with that film is that in the end it doesn’t know where to take its material. And I felt it was a very clever film. I enjoyed the way it sort of twisted the knife more and more and we were really kind of building up to a wonderful upsetting payoff, something very interesting and disturbing, and then he sort of let go of the reins. Otherwise it was enjoyable.

MG: I don’t like him very much, but this time I liked the way James Gray failed to do his big movie. I felt he wanted to put some meat over the usual bones of his films. Most of his films are just skeletons, but this time he tried to put on some meat doesn’t fit the skeleton. I liked that. And I liked Behind the Candelabra very much actually.

GS: Behind the Candelabra fits into the standard bio-pic mold, but I don’t think I’ve seen an American film going into that territory in such a committed way. It really is eye opening in terms of going behind the scenes of the lifestyle of someone who is, or was, a household name, and in its very unfussy, direct way of dealing with his sexuality—it’s very unusual for an American movie.

TM: Oh absolutely, I mean you’re there, you buy into it, and it was acted to the point that I just about felt I wasn’t watching actors anymore. I felt that I was with Liberace. It wasn’t shown as anything special, but you plunged into it and I was amazed at how natural it seemed. From the first couple of minutes you buy the whole world that they’re in and their perspective.

GS: To continue on the theme of depictions of sexuality, coming back to Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, I have to say that I’m not keen on this film, partly for the same reasons as Todd, in that every scene was about twice as long as it needed to be, so that it became a chore to watch—including the soon-to-be-legendary explicit lesbian sex scene, which goes on forever and at a certain point I was looking at my watch and thinking when is this going to end? But my problem with that scene is that I don’t think there’s any passion or emotion in the sex. It’s done as a kind of erotic spectacle with the actresses going all the way, and it’s done from a very male point of view. I don’t really buy the idea that this is some kind of open, sensitive depiction. The film is a love story, but when it comes to the sexual aspects, there isn’t any feeling there.

Blue is the Warmest Color Kechiche

Blue Is the Warmest Color

AH: And he would not have shown it at nearly that extent if it had been a heterosexual love story.

TM: If you saw that scene and you didn’t know where this came from or who made it, what makes you think that this is filmed from a male’s perspective?

GS: The fact that there’s such an absence of emotion and passion in it. I just didn’t see any passion in the actors. I saw a lot of hard work.

TM: That’s one thing, that’s maybe the actors. But how do you judge a male versus female director in a scene if you don’t know who shot it?

GS: I’d say it’s very cold, and I wouldn’t necessarily be able to say if a man or a woman directed it. But take the way it begins with the two of them facing each other, that just seemed like a very false bit of staging that emphasized their considerable physical charms.

MG: Overall the film takes an external point of view over all in terms of perspective. So the fact that it adopts this in the sex scenes is perhaps understandable.

GS: A lot of the other scenes of emotional engagement were much more convincing. It just seemed to break down for me in that scene. The performances are great. In many of the films I don’t much like, the acting has been extremely good this year. I also thought Kechiche doesn’t know what to do with the camera, where to put it. You could contrast that with Nebraska, everything is very precisely staged and controlled.

JR: Well, some filmmakers are really not that interested in where the camera goes, as long as they’re seeing what they’re looking at. And some are very mechanical about it and will put the camera in a specific place and sometimes its important to us where the camera is almost more so than what’s in front of it. But I didn’t see the sexuality in that film as being represented in a cold way. If you compare it with Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, probably until now the most protracted depiction of sexuality in a mainstream film, you would want to fast forward to the next concert scene, whereas there was a sense that Kechiche’s scenes had their own energy and dynamic. You may think it’s improbable that two people who have been lovers for that period of time would still be so constant. Certainly we don’t normally have representations of two women on screen actually enjoying themselves. Even in The Kids Are All Right, everything was terribly discreetly done under the covers. Obviously it wasn’t that kind of film, but it’s sort of taboo and I’d be very interested to see what women and lesbian commentators say about this scene, and whether it seemed to them to be from a male point of view.

Joumane Chahine: I guess I’m the only woman here so I have to comment on it. I tend to agree a bit with Gavin about the lack of passion, but that did not disturb me. I would have been disturbed if there was an excess of passion. But I do think that he films his main character chewing gyros and spaghetti with the same kind of graphic insignificance.

AH: I think there is a misunderstanding that he makes very explicit somewhere in the film by putting the discussion of the Marivaux book La Vie de Marianne at the beginning of the film. She and her boyfriend have this discussion and she says, yes, it’s a 600-page book, because he is a bit wary of reading a book of that length, just as we are maybe wary of entering a three-hour film, and she says Marivaux is great at description. It’s obvious that Kechiche thinks of himself that way and this is what we’ll get. And therefore the brief moments of description that we get throughout the film are a kind of disappointment—it’s just one mode of description that he places in front of us, saying this is thick description done in the way Marivaux or whoever in the modernist or materialist tradition does. As someone who has defended each Kechiche film, this one was interesting but the first really disappointing one in that everything was very one-note. Everything was related to art in what is meant to be a sarcastic perspective on the art world, but it’s done so trivially. Even in a French provincial setting I cannot imagine art world inhabitants speaking that way.

MG: If I can add something about the Kechiche film, what you say about description is true but I’m not convinced that it was really 100 percent about description. He might have been even more interested in just building a televisual rhythm, which is what saves the film in my opinion. The most banal story in the world that you watch because you get hooked up in a flat rhythm that just flows. As you said, the description is hitting a point but I’m not sure it’s intended to. It’s just some material to build up a paratelevisual flow.

AH: I think we would not watch it in this paratelevisual flow if it was a heterosexual relationship. It needs the slightly risqué element of the lesbian sexual relationship and the extended lesbian sex scene to make us interested in the everyday.

JC: I would like to give him a little more credit as a director. I did watch the way she chewed her food with the same interest as I watched the rest, which is maybe a criticism of the sex scenes, but I think you can turn it around and say while I agree with you that he does not necessarily know where to place the camera or even care, there is almost something captivating about that. It is contradictory but kind of jarring. Whether he doesn’t know where to place the camera or is deliberately placing it in positions we might not expect. I don’t think we just watch it in a paratelevisual flow. There were many times because it’s three hours where I was not interested and I don’t like where he places the camera, but I was captivated and I do think that has to be recognized.

TM: During the three hours, I thought back to the earlier Dogme days and with those films you can say the camera is in a completely arbitrary place. In Celebration, which is so highly acclaimed, a third of the shots are in goofy places. Even in Breaking the Waves. And yet that was looked at as a stylistic breakthrough and we’re saying this film is arbitrary.

JR: But the Dogme films really went out of their way to highlight that the camera is placed in arbitrary positions.

Only God Forgives Winding Refn

Only God Forgives

GS: To change the subject, what about the Competition film, Only God Forgives?

JR: I feel really bad about this because I really admire a lot of Nicolas Winding Refn’s earlier work, but I really think he’s come unstuck with this one. Weirdly it reminded me of some of those orientalist fantasies—just the idea of this constant succession of images of a gangster standing on a stage and a woman standing behind a beaded curtain. Just like a succession of postcards, it’s very beautiful but I find it incredibly offensive in that Bangkok is portrayed as this kind of theme park of Western fantasies about sex and violence, given the way Bangkok is actually used by the West. I think he’s just playing with those same ideas, and it ate itself up very quickly.

TM: It’s very fetishistic about all those aspects—the martial arts aspects, the Asian aspects, the notion of framing. It’s just a big wank frankly. And looking at it from a career point of view, he can get all the big actors he wants at this point because he’s famous and has this free rein. I think he needs to be careful about doing films like this. He needs to be smarter about his career and his script writing.

JR: It does seem now that there’s a group of filmmakers, and Gaspar Noé is one of them, who are sort of writing fan letters to each other. Noé making films for Refn, etc. This little group of the “wild boys.”

MG: I was quite pissed off for the first 30 or 40 minutes, but insofar as it is a variation on Hamlet, I quite enjoyed it. It’s a guy who wants to return to his mother’s womb, which he can’t manage. He is a guy split between contemplation and action, and the film itself is split between contemplation and action. The bits of contemplation are fine. The fistfight scene at the end is quite striking to me visually.

AH: I disagree with the description of it as a fistfight; I think it’s something else. I think it’s the setting up of a great movie star, or an actor with the potential to be a great movie star. If I were Ryan Gosling, I would never speak to this director again. We’re supposed to believe that Refn and Gosling are buddies, but this fistfight is not a fistfight. First he sets it up by having Gosling walk in a circle around this Thai cop and then he just gets beaten to a pulp—and then his mother tells him that he has a small dick and was never worth anything and was always a weakling. It may be a Hamlet reference, but it’s the weirdest relation to the supposed star that you can have. For me it’s one of the dumbest films I have seen in my life. I was among those who didn’t see the fuss about Drive. Both are films by 7-year-olds, but this even more so. And the fetishism, which could have been subversive as in Kenneth Anger, has become a hegemonic dominant form in culture. It’s an orthodoxy now, I don’t see any transgressive aspect to this style or approach. It’s just garbage. The 7-year-olds have taken over part of our cultural imaginary.

TM: Yes, well, if Kechiche were involved, we would have had a mother-son sex scene probably.

GS: Which film do you think is going to win the Palme d’Or, and what would you most like to see win?

TM: I have it sort of worked out. We haven’t seen all the films yet, but for me the second slot would be Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Beauty for mise en scène, Michael Douglas for actor, and the two women in Blue Is the Warmest Color for actress. If I were picking the Palmes, I’d pick those. Those are my choices. It’s hard to say but I think some of those will be in the mix.

JR: A title we haven’t mentioned yet is Jia Zhang-ke’s A Touch of Sin. It’s politically angry, socially angry. I think it’s easy to overlook it because fans of Jia Zhang-ke will think he’s diluted it a bit by bringing in the Kitano style. It still felt to me very like a Jia Zhang-ke film, but turbo-charged and very exciting, stimulating about what it’s saying about Chinese society. It’s a wonder that he’s able to make this film because in the past Chinese directors would come to Cannes and get in trouble with the authorities for things that are at all critical.

TM: I talked to some Asian experts because he’s being pretty clear here about the social changes, the political changes that aren’t good. But my Asian expert friend said that we may not have seen this kind of material in widely exported films, but it’s actually been present in domestic films. There are these kinds of export-art films, and then there’s the rest, which we mostly don’t see. For outsiders it looks bold, but according to my friends, it’s common right now.

GS: The fact that the president of the jury is Steven Spielberg does have to factor into our predictions a little bit. I can’t see him going for A Touch of Sin.

TM: I was sitting there watching shot after shot of The Great Beauty and thinking, “Spielberg would love this.” Sweeping cameras. But you can’t always predict.

GS: Often when you have directors on juries, they want the prize to go to someone who in no way represents a threat or a form of competition to them or what they do, so they often go to the other extreme.

MG: My favorite remains Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, even at this point in the festival. If I have to make a prediction, I would say perhaps James Gray’s The Immigrant will win.

The Immigrant James Gray

The Immigrant

GS: It’s a film Spielberg could get behind. It’s the first James Gray film that I actually didn’t dislike. I’ve been waiting to see a good film by him and I think this was as close as he’s gotten. It’s a very middle-ground movie. It seems like a film that’s got awards season potential, with The Weinstein Company pushing behind it.

JC: I don’t know if the Coen Brothers can get another prize because that’s another thing you have to keep in mind—how often a person has won. I think Sorrentino will definitely be there. It’s a flawed movie and a brilliant one. I think Jia Zhang-ke will figure into this inevitably and he deserves it. Maybe he has compromised, but if you always do the same thing you are accused of being tiresome and boring. I didn’t see him selling out to Kitano here, I saw him just adding to what he already does. It’s about the corruption of human nature as much as the usual corruption of the state. There is not just one way of reading it. I found Like Father, Like Son terribly delicate and intelligent, and on a topic that in the past year alone has seen two other films on that theme, Midnight’s Children on the switched babies at birth and another Franco-Israeli one. Kore-eda managed to do something elegant and restrained and affecting.

AH: I’m surprised positively that the Kore-eda figures strongly here. It’s also one of my favorite four films and I would be very happy if it figured among the prizes. I think the four films that I would want to go home with prizes are the Kore-eda, and especially Nebraska, Jimmy P, and A Castle in Italy. I think what has not been mentioned in our discussion is almost all of the great or supposedly great filmmakers that are working below their highest level this year. I think there are interesting things, and this includes Jia Zhang-ke whose Platform, Xiao Wu, The World, and Unknown Pleasures are great films. But I don’t think he’s working on that level. It’s not a bad film, but it’s also a bit of a simplistic film for me. And this also goes for Asghar Farhadi and many others. I think Kore-eda’s Still Walking is a much richer and stronger film than Like Father, like Son. And probably you could say that Alexander Payne has made better films, and I like Actresses by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi even more than A Castle in Italy. So it’s a bit sad in general looking back on those 10 days, that all of the crème de la crème, so to speak, are delivering a bit middling to above middling or good movies, but nothing really exciting. Meanwhile the parallel sections, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics Week, were not fantastic, nor were they fantastic last year. They’ve become a problem in a way, because there used to be years when as many great films come out of Directors’ Fortnight. This is no longer the case. But this year with Rithy Panh, Lav Diaz, and Alain Guiraudie—all three in Un Certain Regard—are much more exciting and unique and strange and thought-provoking.

GS: I began very early on in the festival thinking about which films that are in Un Certain Regard should have been in the Competition and vice versa. The Guiraudie definitely should have all been in Competition, and I think Omar and Claire Denis’s The Bastards should have been as well. And I think that part of what’s going on here is certain films are deemed either too tough or too disturbing or too provocative for the audience, or too tough, too disturbing, and too provocative for the jury. Imagine Steven Spielberg watching the Guiraudie film with its copious male nudity.

AH: But why does the festival suppose that Blue Is the Warmest Color, a lesbian relationship movie, which is very explicit, is somehow more acceptable—

GS: Everybody loves lesbians, come on.

MG: There’s not a close-up of a cum shot in it like in the Guiraudie.

AH: Not only the snot but the other liquids that droop out of the Kechiche film equal, I think, the one cum shot in the Guiraudie.

GS: I think I differ with you on that.

AH: And it’s not more offensive. I absolutely agree with Gavin. It should have been in Competition.

TM: I think you’re probably going too far to think that a selection of films is geared around a jury. They might not even know who’s on the jury. I think it’s much more to do with French producers, with who’s in the power slots politically in the industry in France. It’s so much to do with that.

JR: I suspect the reason The Bastards wasn’t in competition was that film struck me as the absolute type of the French film that traditionally gets booed in Competition because it’s sort of a little too fractured, a little too weird. There’s a whole history of French films, in particular, getting absolutely slaughtered in Competition. I think that one would have had a rough ride. Whereas in Un Certain Regard people felt very fondly towards it.

The Bastards Claire Denis

The Bastards

GS: For me The Bastards was one of the highlights of the festival.

JR: But I’m not sure where it stands in relation to her other work. The fractured structure which, you know, just makes you need to go back and do detective work. Because often we have it on a plate, with most films I’ve seen here it’s been pretty clear what they’re about and what’s going on and where you stand, and you can then come out of the cinema and wipe your hands and say, yes, I’ve seen this, it’s fine.

MG: Yes, but they played the Refn film.

JC: That got booed?

JR: That got booed quite heavily, yeah. Talking about political content, though, it’s really interesting that obviously what we want are films that are politically interesting and provocative and that are also great films. Neither have that. We’ve just come out of Manuscripts Don’t Burn, the Mohammad Rasoulof film, which is the most explicit statement yet about what is being done to intellectuals and dissidents in Iran, and to an extent to Rasoulof himself, who was banned from making films at the same time as Jafar Panahi. But in fact, you also have to take into account that it’s really not a very good film.

GS: Yeah, it’s kind of deadly.

JR: It’s like a Costa-Gavras film like L’Aveu, but Costa-Gavras at his most leaden. And it’s a real shame. If that had been a really narratively tight film it would have been incendiary. As it is, you think, well, gosh, that’s a great news story.

MG: It’s undaring precisely because it’s explicit.

GS: Anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to give a shout-out to?

JC: I came in late, but you did mention Omar, which is one of the few films I did manage to see in Un Certain Regard. In a very quiet, subdued, almost invisibly creeping way, it was to me the most transgressive film I saw. That’s because, and I don’t know if I’m the odd one reacting to this, but it’s the first Arab film I think I’ve ever seen where most of my sympathy went to the Israeli. I’m phrasing it a little more black and white than how I actually felt—my primary sympathy went to Omar—but the second character who had my heart was the Israeli agent.

GS: Maybe because he reminds you—well, he reminds me of Mandy Patinkin in Homeland. What was interesting to me about Omar was the way in which it takes someone who, very early on in the film, participates in a killing—a sniper attack on an Israeli military post—and yet the film steadily builds sympathy for someone who, at least from a Western point of view, is reprehensible. And it does that partly through pure film grammar. There are these remarkable foot chase scenes that compel you to root for him—that and the fact that he’s in this compromised position. And I think he’s a much more complex character than we’ve seen in previous films about the Arab-Israeli conflict. It’s a film about betrayal, and there are many different layers of betrayal going on. Initially I thought the business about wanting to marry his friend’s sister was going to be a subplot, but it’s integral to what’s going on. I think it’s a strong film.

JC: I think it’s interesting that you, the Westerner, found it interesting that you had sympathy for an Arab boy who participates in a shooting, and I, the Arab, had sympathy for the Israeli agents. So in a way, our conclusions about it are symmetrical.

GS: I don’t think this is a film that has good guys and bad guys.

JC: My antipathy went to his friend who betrays him, and even he’s not entirely a bad guy. And I know they’ve tried to do films on that topic in Palestine, but I think they’ve rarely succeeded so well as through the grammar of this film.

GS: Any other films anyone wants to give a shout-out to?

MG: Lav Diaz’s Norte, the End of History, perhaps?

Norte, the End of History Lav Diaz

Norte, the End of History

JR: It is an extraordinary film. And the great thing about it is that it’s a nice easy four hours as opposed to his eight-hour films. But I felt that he’s really breaking new ground, because in the past his films have been sort of semi-improvised according to the circumstances of shooting so that if one of the actors went to prison, the character just drops out of the film. This time, he obviously had all the elements in place. He’s working in color, it’s beautifully composed, and it’s full of surprises. And now I think he’s one of the great novelists in cinema, and in the past he struck me as the kind of novelist that Roberto Bolaño would be—not tell a linear story but drift off in different directions. And this one is much more linear in a sense, but it’s multidimensional and full of fascinating shifts. And at the end—for most of the film, it felt something very much like Hou Hsiao-hsien or Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day—and at the end it suddenly went off in a completely unexpected Bruno Dumont/Carlos Reygadas direction. I just found it thrilling and satisfying.

GS: Marcus, do you like it more than his other recent films, being a Lav Diaz aficionado?

MG: Perhaps not. I need to think about it more, as I’m not certain of what I’ve just seen. But as Jonathan said, the fact that the main character disappears for the middle part of the film is a very novelistic move and quite an accomplished one. Not only a great use of color, but also of camera movement. In the last 10 years, he didn’t do that kind of camera movement. He finds an extraordinary way to replace what used to be one of his trademarks, these novelty shots where the camera is just kind of wandering around where for a while and you didn’t quite know what was going on. And here, there is an equivalent of that move, that was apparently made possible by larger means I guess.

AH: A heli camera.

TM: I agree that with two or three exceptions, people were working at 75 percent, but not quite at the top of their game. I don’t think people will think, “This is the year of…” No discoveries, no breakthroughs. And the thinness of what the Competition people are dealing with is further reflected in Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight, there weren’t really any exciting breakouts from those sections as there have been in the recent past. So, in that sense, I think it’s a bit of a down year. Not a bad year, just a little underachieved.

AH: I’m somewhat with Gavin in that if they had put Norte, the End of History and Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake in Competition, it would’ve felt a bit more exciting. But on the subject of very long films, I would like to revisit that wonderful afternoon when Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture and Claude Lanzmann’s The Last of the Unjust were shown right after each other. One could quip that it was Genocide Sunday, but aside from that, it was an amazing day because you entered so deeply into these men’s reflections on genocide, and I’m so happy that the Lanzmann film exists now. I’m familiar with the 12 hours of raw material of Benjamin Murmelstein that he shot in 1975, and I’m really, really happy that it’s become a film that will live on. It’s out of Competition so it doesn’t get mentioned among people’s favorites, but I think that The Last of the Unjust and The Missing Picture will be the lasting films from this year.