(The Guardian) – The red carpets are being unrolled, tuxedos retrieved from the dry cleaners, stepladders set up by the paparazzi; Cannes is getting ready to welcome its annual influx of the flotsam and jetsam of the global film community. As ever, the entire industry will make the trip, from Seoul to Sacramento, from the buyers’ scouts who are forced to hop through scores of screenings a day, to the most lordly financiers lounging in their billion-dollar superyachts in the harbour. It looks like business as usual.
But there is also change in the air. The Cannes film festival has always been a contradictory beast: it is an event that thrusts itself so shamelessly into the glare of the international media machine, but is dedicated to showcasing the most recondite areas of world cinema. Steepled-fingered critics rub shoulders with nickel-and-dime movie hucksters. So while the broad mass of activities in Cannes remain unchanged – bar a currency crisis or two – subtle shifts in emphasis can have surprisingly far-reaching effects.
Most striking is the sense that the festival has tilted dramatically in the direction of its more serious, socially-concerned side. The opening film, a prestige slot that has in the recent past been concerned to parade a string of A-list Hollywood movie stars on the festival’s enormous red carpet, with the likes of The Great Gatsby, Robin Hood and The Da Vinci Code, has this year been handed to a French film, La Tête Haute (aka Standing Tall), from a little known director called Emmanuelle Bercot.