Celebrating great films and filmmakers from Cannes to San Francisco

by Jacquie Taliaferro

65th Cannes International Film Festival

San Francisco was well represented at Cannes this year. Native son Danny Glover sat on a panel about documentary filmmaking, while San Francisco’s emerging star Kevin Epps showed his film “Straight Outta Hunters Point 2” to its first international audience at the festival’s Nigerian Pavilion.

Nicole-Kidman-Macy-Gray-on-Cannes-red-carpet-2012, Celebrating great films and filmmakers from Cannes to San Francisco, Culture Currents As Epps was unable to attend, I conducted the Cannes screening of his film. It was well received by that discerning audience. One attendee from Ireland said: “We have youth acting out, but not the gun violence. It’s hard to get a gun in Ireland.” If only that were true in the U.S.

The Palme d’Or winner at Cannes this year was “Amour,” directed by the Austrian Michael Haneke. He also won in 2009 for “The White Ribbon.”

Other 2012 winners among the cast of Cannes celebrities include Grand Prix (Runner-up): “Reality” (Italy) by Matteo Garrone; Jury Prize (Third Prize): “The Angels’ Share” (Britain) by Ken Loach; Camera d’Or (Debut Film): “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (U.S.) by Benh Zeitlin; Best Director: Carlos Reygadas for “Post Tenebras Lux” (Mexico); Best Screenplay: “Beyond the Hills” (Romania) by Cristian Mungiu; Best Actress: Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in “Beyond the Hills”; Best Actor: Mads Mikkelsen in “The Hunt”; and Palme d’Or Short Film: Sessiz-Be Deng (Turkey) by L. Rezan Yesilbas.

The Nigerians – “Nollywood” – at Cannes were celebrating their recent ranking of second in the world for film production; they overtook the U.S. India’s “Bollywood” is still number one.

Cannes brings celebrities from around the world, giving it that extreme PR pop. P. Diddy, Jay Z, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Danny Glover and a host of other stars were at Cannes promoting various projects. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jackie Chan, Berenice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius, Julianna Margulies, Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattison, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Eriq Ebouaney, Jane Fonda, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Cuba Gooding Jr., Gong Li, Cecilia Cheung, Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor, Eva Longoria, David Oyelowo, Fan Bingbing, Jackie Appiah, Nichole Kidman, Macy Gray, Lee Daniels, John Cusack, Heidi Klum, Kirsten Dunst, Adrien Brody, Zach Miller, Eddie Mbalo, Afolabi Adesanya, Tangi Miller and Phil Gorn, just to name a few, graced the pavilions and the red carpet at the festival.

Jac-Taliaferro-Jimmy-Jean-Louis-at-Cannes-2010, Celebrating great films and filmmakers from Cannes to San Francisco, Culture Currents Raoul Peck, from Haiti, was on this year’s Cannes Jury and described his philosophy in the “Cannes Daily”: “In the commercial American cinema, you have vengeance and a happy end and the audience is content to consume a wonderful story. I try to find a link that will enable us to understand the world. I am against those who say that there are themes that are not cinematographic. It is up to us to make them accessible. My dream is to make popular films that provide something other than entertainment. Often, we are asked to choose between entertainment and thought. For me, there is no option.”

Peck and fellow Haitian Jimmy Jean-Louis were very prominent at Cannes 65. Jean-Louis’s “Toussaint L’Overture” aired on French television. It was also a big hit at the 2012 Pan African Film Festival in LA in February.

At a news conference, Peck talked about coming to Cannes in 1993 to submit a film. He said, “I remember the festival director saying, ‘Your life is about to change,’ as he phoned to tell me ‘L’Homme Sure Les Quais’ (‘The Man by the Shore’) was in the festival.” From film submitter to jury member, the change continues for Peck.

Jac-Taliaferro-Robert-Townsend-2012-NAACP-Image-Awards, Celebrating great films and filmmakers from Cannes to San Francisco, Culture Currents When Robert Townsend, known as the “Godfather of Independent Film,” spoke at a news conference promoting his film “In The Hive,” which opened the San Francisco Black Film Festival 2012, his words echoed Peck’s: “It’s important not only to entertain but to also serve and elevate humanity with our artistic ability.”

Having recently returned from Cannes, I just wrapped up this year’s San Francisco Black Film Festival, so I am doing as much as I “Cannes do” – pun intended.

San Francisco Black Film Festival 2012 news conference

At the San Francisco Black Film Festival, all media were invited to a news conference where “Godfather of Independent Film” Robert Townsend talked about how he got started in entertainment and the film industry. In Part Two, Robert talks about the importance of collaboration, creativity, ingenuity, the power of images, directing Beyonce and working with Rey Ramsey and One Economy to make “In the Hive” at the San Francisco Black Film Festival news conference 2012. – Videos: Ken Johnson Productions with Lynn Daniels on camera

Jacquie Taliaferro, filmmaker and director of LaHitz Media, can be reached at lahitznews@yahoo.com or (415) 821-1111.