The first full day of the Cannes Film Festival was bursting with powerful auteurs debuting new work and a bevy of titles being prepped for acquisition. From Pedro Almodóvar to Steve McQueen, festival attendees were flush for choice on what to watch — this despite reports that issues with tickets were still happening.
“Strange Way of Life” Thrills Audiences
The film to garner the most attention yesterday was Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s 31-minute short, “Strange Way of Life,” starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke as two cowboys who might be considering taking their friendship to the next level. In looking at the social media reactions and reviews that cropped up in the immediate aftermath of those who saw it next year’s Oscars may have a front-runner for Best Short Film.
Speaking previously on the Dua Lipa podcast, the filmmaker stated that “it’s a queer Western, in the sense that there are two men and they love each other. It’s about masculinity in a deep sense because the Western is a male genre.”
Ethan Hawke loves on Pedro Pascal with this quote of day: "I like to be wanted, you know I don't care. If it happens to be a very attractive, extremely talented man, all the better," says Ethan Hawke of playing gay opposite Pascal in Almodovar's Strange Way of Life. #Cannes2023 pic.twitter.com/3h3ovh6lsM
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) May 17, 2023
Hawke said during a post-screening Q&A alongside Almodóvar that “I like to be wanted, you know I don’t care. If it happens to be a very attractive, extremely talented man, all the better.” Almodóvar said during that same Q&A, “I wanted to make a classic Western in which we talk about the desire between two cowboys. Normally in classic Westerns, women always have secondary roles and we never talk about the desire between two men.”
As the auteur discussed, the Western genre is at an interesting time in its life bringing up features like Jane Campion’s “Power of the Dog” and the Taylor Sheridan Western series, “Yellowstone.”
Collectif 50/50 Makes Cannes Return
Collectif 50/50, the French equivalent of America’s Time’s Up organization, relaunched with a younger, more diverse board and are back at Cannes this year to bring awareness to the continued lack of female representation at the festival. The group will hold panels spotlighting female composers and other inclusion efforts.
The move comes after Tuesday’s numerous opening day controversies surrounding Cannes’ opening night film, the Johnny Depp-starring “Jeanne du Barry.” The film garnered a seven-minute standing ovation for Depp who said at the film’s press conference that “everything that the majority of you have been reading for the last five or six years with regard to me and my life is fantastically, horrifically written fiction.”
Prior to the screening, a letter, signed by 100 French actors, was published in the newspaper “Liberation,” condemning sexual harassment in the French film industry. It also took Cannes to task for what they considered “rolling out the red carpet to the men and women who assault,” though it didn’t specify who it was referring to.
Acquisitions Start Rolling In
This year’s acquisition market is unpredictable, especially in the U.S. and China, who are still struggling to find the algorithm to bring the theatrical experience back to pre-pandemic highs. But Cannes has already seen several acquisitions. The first was for Pablo Berger’s animated feature “Robot Dreams,” which NEON bought for an undisclosed amount.
According to the official synopsis, “Robot Dreams” “follows DOG, who lives in Manhattan and one day, tired of being alone, decides to build himself a robot, a companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of 80’s NYC. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach. Will they ever meet again?”
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Monster” drew stellar reviews after its premiere yesterday and Gaga Corporation and Goodfellas announced it had already been pre-sold throughout numerous foreign territories, though U.S. distribution is still pending.