Cannes: Velvet Underground, Tilda Swinton take spotlight

(Tilda Swinton in Dr. Strange)

On the third day of Cannes, the festival screened The Velvet Underground documentary, independent film queen Tilda Swinton took center stage with one of her five films premiering at the festival, and yet again the argument of cinephiles versus streamers was heated.

Critics are praising The Velvet Underground documentary film’s unconventional approach to music on-screen with working around how little footage of the band actually exists, not to mention even never before seen archival interviews with members of the band while they were still alive.

Critics are saying that the director Todd Haynes knows how to put music on screen in a way that few other directors do.

During a press event on Thursday morning, Haynes explained how he utilized old, iconic film screen tests of Lou Reed as an overarching presence for the film that made up for the absence of other video footage of him in which we only hear him through voiceover.

“All of a sudden you feel like the person is there. They’re breathing, they’re holding still, but there are little glances that they make that seem to almost be referring to things that we are then stating and depicting in the frame beside it,” Haynes said on Thursday. “And so you really feel like you’re in the time and place in an extraordinary way, with an original 60mm reel of Lou Reed sitting with half shadow and half-light on his face.”

Haynes also confirmed on the red carpet at Cannes that he will be going back to narrative filmmaking after The Velvet Underground, with plans to shoot his previously announced and highly anticipated  Peggy Lee biopic “Fever” starring Michelle Williams this fall.

Tilda Swinton has a very long Cannes ahead of her, as she will be representing five films at the festival. Beginning with Thursday’s screening of The Souvenir Part II from director Joanna Hogg.

Swinton’s daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne is also in the film and Tilda actually lent her daughter her own personal real 80’s close to fit the era of the scene. Swinton revealed to the crowd at the screening that there’s a graduation scene in the film involving her daughter that is based on a short film Swinton herself starred in from Hogg decades earlier.

This is the scene in which her daughter wore her mother’s clothes which for Swinton was “a trip.” Swinton and her daughter could be seen embracing in a big hug after the screening.

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The Battle of New-Age Streaming and Die-Hard Cinema Lovers Continues

Agnieszka Holland, the famed Polish director hopes that Indies Don’t “Vanish” on Streamers. The director of Europa Europa who also serves as the European Film Academy President spoke on a Cannes Market panel on Thursday about streaming platforms and her fear that indie films go there and simply “vanish” based on the service’s algorithms, and that streamers need dedicated curators to make sure great indie films are kept top of mind.

On the subject of streamers,  Holland said, “they have become some kind of non-curated, big black hole where our more fragile and personal products can disappear and vanish. The platforms are great but they’re not curated, they’re curated only by the algorithms. We need the real curators, the festivals, academies, critics. We need producers who will fight for a voice that is unique, rare, ambitious, and challenging”

While Holland acknowledged that it’s becoming more challenging for smaller and foreign language films to find distribution internationally without the aid of appearing on Netflix or Amazon, another producer speaking on the panel took a different view about streamers.

“We’re not attacked by streamers, we’re attacked by a virus. The virus is the reason that theaters had to shut down. Streamers are not our enemies, we work with them regularly, they’re smart people,” Martin Moszkowicz of Constantin Film said on the panel. “I don’t want to contradict Mrs. Holland, it’s all correct what she said, but it’s not all about algorithms, they are people who love what we are all about. I don’t see them as an enemy. There are lots of data that shows that people who use steamers a lot go to the movies a lot if they can.”

The battle of the streamers and the cinephiles continues. On to Day 4…