The presence of Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth makes for a spectacular red carpet. However, having a French director for the opening night certainly gathers a lot of interest too. Daring and (therefore) controversial, Olivier Dahan, received support from the festival as they will screen the director’s cut, although rumour has it that another, more sugarcoated and romantic, version was made in the USA. A fickle filmmaker, Olivier Dahan is particularly known for his film La Môme, one of the last decennium’s remarkable French films with a star role for Marion Cotillard.
The same actress is everywhere in the media during the festival as she plays the main role in Deux Jours, Une Nuit, the latest work of the Dardenne brothers (produced by Les Films du Fleuve) which is co-financed by Wallimage. Even better, Wallimage is the main public investor. It is a first, but it is also a milestone in a fantastic story, as the fund was created in 2000 following the Golden Palm for Rosetta. We will not say that we have come full circle, as the adventure is far from over, but it is one more marker indicating that the Walloon policy is working.
As a loyal partner to the brothers, Wallimage supported them in Cannes four times, each time with success: in 2002, Le Fils gives Olivier Gourmet best actor. In 2005, out of the blue, the Dardennes win a second Golden Palm with L’Enfant, starring Jérémie Renier and Déborah François. In 2008, they win the screenplay award for Le Silence de Lorna and in 2011 Le Gamin au Vélo is awarded the Grand Prix (the second prize of the Festival).
Deux Jours, Une Nuit could give the best known brothers of the country a serious chance to be on the prize list again. The film is remarkable, with an astounding force and diabolical precision, not to mention that Marion Cotillard’s performance is nothing short of exceptional. Being in France, with a president of the Jury as sensitive to female characters as Jane Campion, we are allowed to dream. Really!
The third Wallimage film of 2014 will be screened at the Directors’ Fortnight. Fabrice Du Welz’s Alleluia. It is the second part of the trilogy set in the Ardennes starting with Calvaire. The film is not a sequel, but again we are confronted with a story of ordinary lunacy, a hysterical love story between a nurse and a handsome forty-something lacking both a conscience and empathy, who lives off scamming the women he encounters.
As a genre film, Alleluia is primarily a very personal work, developing strange realities based on a surprising photography and a performance without a safety net. The film might impassion the festival goers and divide the critics… which would be only natural for such a daring and peculiar entry.
Even if Wallimage is not involved in her project, let’s not forget to mention Laura Wandel’s selection in the official short film competition with her touching, modest and very intriguing Les corps étrangers. As part of only nine out of nearly 4000 candidates who made the cut, Laura proves that she is destined to on the list of directors Cannes will pay attention to in the future. A reassuring sign of the times.