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I see it as a great dinner, like a buffet, so many plates that obviously the flavour of one will affect the next one'
Alejandro González Iñárritu, the president of this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury, and the first Latin American to hold the post in the festival’s 72-year history, isn’t keen on the whole idea of sitting in judgment on movies.
“I will not call it judgment,” he told the media in the festival’s opening press conference on Tuesday. “I want to be impregnated by them.” He also likened the festival’s 10-day, 21-film competition – including new movies from Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch and Canada’s Xavier Dolan – to a feast.
“I see it as a great dinner, like a buffet, so many plates that obviously the flavour of one will affect the next one. And there is no time to have the sorbet” to clean one’s palate.
In one form or another, the question of streaming services has cropped up at every film festival for the last few years, and this was no exception. “I have nothing against watching anything in a phone, an iPad, a computer,” said Iñárritu. “But I know that to watch a film [that way] is not the same.”
He added: “To watch is not to see a film. To watch is something, to see is another thing, and to see is not to experience something. And cinema was born to be experienced in a communal experience.” He compared the big-screen event to classical music; you can listen to Beethoven on crappy car speakers, and that’s OK. “But it would be a very disastrous situation if there were not an opportunity to hear a hundred-person orchestra playing in a concert hall.”
Iñárritu also spoke of Carne y Arena (Blood and Sand), his 2017 virtual reality exhibit at Cannes that put viewers in the shoes of a migrant trying to cross the desert into America.
“That was the way I responded to what I think is happening,” he said. “Not just between the U.S. and Mexico but all the borders in the world.” He referenced 1939, the year Fascist forces rolled across Europe (coincidentally postponing the very first Cannes festival, slated for that autumn), as the result of policies that blame and dehumanize asylum seekers. “We know how this story ends if we keep with that rhetoric,” he said. “We think that we are evolving with technology and social media, but it seems that every tweet is a brick of isolation.”
A lighter note was struck by director Kelly Reichardt, one of four women on the nine-person jury, who said she looked forward to a time when we no longer have to talk about “women directors” because they won’t be seen as a special group trying to achieve parity.
She also echoed her fellow jurors in the honour of being chosen to serve. “It’s my first time not trying to get out of jury duty.”
Chris Knight will be reporting from the Cannes Film Festival for Postmedia until May 25.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019