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Cinematic Shift

Cinematic Shift
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In 12 days each May, the content and direction of world cinema shifts a little. These are the fevered days of the 'Festival de Cannes'. Every movement means millions in on-going business. So, factors worth countless millions are out of the bottle at the end of this celebration of cinema by the Mediterranean, the 58th in 2005. Cannes is the most important annual event in world cinema, rivalled only by the Oscars. But Cannes lasts 12 days, not just an evening. It's worldwide, not US-centric. It's worth more money. The 58th edition that closed May 22 saw business signed or initialled estimated at $1.5 bn.

Once upon a time (and upon its pebbled beach), Cannes gave meaning to the word 'topless' before the California bars caught on. The seriousness of the fest business put the clothes back on the starlets. Today, such initiatives have been banished to the routines of the hotels (10,000 rooms on the Croisette and other seafront boulevards, yet there's a battle for every room). Though, this year, somebody as top drawer as Sophie Marceau thought fit to suffer a snapped dress strap in the best tradition of these accidents—in full view of the cameras and on the sacred red carpet of the Palais' Montee des Marches. Sophie notwithstanding, Cannes tells you where cinema is situated. This year, top directorial names tipped their hats at straightforward story-telling. This wasn't a sell-out to box office but a middle way between good art and respect for public sophistication. Emir Kusturica, the manic but always magnetic Serb, this year's President of the Jury, said all choices made by his panel would be based on the aesthetics and clarity of films assessed. That's what happened.

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