Cannes embraces international filming
The 2016 Cannes Film Festival (May 11-22) offers a varied repertoire of international movies that turn the everyday constraints of lower-budget production into subtler showcases of location filming.
Smaller budgets usually restrict film production to tighter geographic areas. A good example this year is Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta, one of 20 titles selected for Cannes competition. This one is based in Madrid, where he previously shot classic movies such as Women On The Verge Of a Nervous Breakdown.
Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is set in Paris while Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake (pictured right) was primarily filmed against the backdrop of Newcastle Upon Tyne as the Brit director continues a cinematic tour of the British Isles that over the years has also taken him to Manchester, Glasgow and Yorkshire.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon was based entirely in California and is one of a number of films at this year’s festival that goes off the beaten track, showing us places we’re perhaps not accustomed to seeing on screen. Jeff Nichols’ Loving is another, set in 1950s Virginia, where an inter-racial couple are jailed for having the audacity to get married. Jim Jarmusch, meanwhile, takes us to Paterson, New Jersey, for his contemporary tale of a bus driver who becomes a poet.
Still in the US, one of the most anticipated films in competition this year is American Honey, British director Andrea Arnold’s first movie shot in the US. Starring Shia LaBeouf and Sasha Lane, it tells the story of a hard-partying magazine salesman meandering through the Mid-West with a teenage girl. Key locations included Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri, states that attract few high-profile productions but offer plenty of classic Americana iconography.
Back in Europe, Nicole Garcia’s competition film From The Land Of The Moon (aka Mal De Pierres) is an adaptation of Milena Agus' post-war novel about a free-spirited woman in a loveless marriage who falls for another man. Key locations on this well-travelled film include Lyon and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur in France, Davos in Switzerland and Andalucia in Spain.
Elsewhere, Olivier Assayas’ ghost story Personal Shopper (pictured above) stars Kristen Stewart and was mainly based in Paris but also filmed in London, Prague and Muscat in Oman.
Romania can take some satisfaction from the films selected for competition. Bucharest is a key location in Toni Erdmann, a film about a man trying to reconnect with his adult daughter. Also central to this production was the German filming hub of North Rhine-Westphalia. Bucharest was again the centre of the action in Cristi Puiu’s Sieranevada, while another competition film, Cristian Mungiu’s Bacalaureat (pictured below), was also based in Romania, specifically Brasov County and Transylvania.
Among the highest-profile films produced outside the US and Europe is Xavier Dolan’s Montreal-shot It’s Only The End Of The World, which tells the story of a terminally ill writer who returns home after a long absence to announce his death. Also of interest is The Handmaiden (Agassi), a South Korean period piece in which a maid plots to swindle her Japanese employer out of her fortune.
Kleber Mendonca Filho’s Aquarius is set in Brazilian city Recife, while Brillante Mendoza, a previous Best Director winner at Cannes, offers Ma’Rosa, the story of a convenience store owner who sells drugs as a sideline. The film is set in the slums of Manila, underlining the point that Cannes tends not to deal in picture-postcard locations.
Sean Penn brings The Last Face to competition, a film that tells the story of an aid agency director and a relief doctor who meet in Africa. Locations included Cape Town and Geneva.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s The Unknown Girl was shot in Belgium while Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical is set in France. Also shot in France is Bruno Dumont’s quirky period whodunnit Ma Loute (aka Slack Bay). Set in the summer of 1910 on the northern French coast, its cast includes Juliette Binoche.
All of the above films are in competition. However Cannes is also the launch pad for a number of more commercially-focused titles. Opening the festival is Woody Allen’s Café Society, which stars Kirsten Stewart, Blake Lively and Jesse Eisenberg. Set in the 1930s, it moves between New York and California.
Among the big-budget productions on show is Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Here, the engine room of the production was location filming and visual effects hub Vancouver, but Spielberg and his team also filmed in the UK at locations including Blenheim Palace, the Isle of Skye in Scotland and even at Buckingham Palace.
Money Monster is Jodie Foster’s fourth film as director and stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Production was based at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in the New York borough of Queens. Also on show will be Shane Black’s The Nice Guys (pictured above), starring Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer and Russell Crowe, a 1970s-set movie that makes the most of Black’s penchant for comedy crime drama and quotable dialogue. Production darted back and forth between Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Finally, a nod in the direction of Un Certain Regard, a section of the festival that focuses on experimental or innovative films. One title to look out for here is Clash, set in Cairo and made by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab. Another is Apprentice, a prison-based drama from Singaporean director Boo Junfeng.
I, Daniel Blake image: Wild Bunch
Personal Shopper image: mk2
The Nice Guys image: Daniel McFadden / Warner Bros Entertainment