Doing the cinema can-can | Cannes 2012

Film producer Jean Pierre Magro pays a visit to this year’s Cannes Film Festival – an annual celebration of international cinema at the lush Cote D’Azur in the south of France, which took place between May 16 and 27.

A melancholy meditation on aging, celebrated director Michael Haneke’s Amour snatched the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
A melancholy meditation on aging, celebrated director Michael Haneke’s Amour snatched the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Every year around May the sedate town of Cannes on the Cote D'Azur is transformed into the world's glitz capital. Over 200,000 filmmakers, dealmakers, financiers, studio execs and stars descend on the mythic Croisette, the main road of the French Riviera, to "celebrate" the art of cinema.

Even the incessant rain and harsh winds that pounded this year's festival were unable to dampen the high spirits of the hardcore fans or the lavish parties that accompany this event.

This year, Malta was part of that glamorous world. The Factory Media Group, a new start up aimed to pioneer digital content creation, strategy and innovation through strong multimedia story engagement, was present to launch its slate of transmedia projects.

Story evolves. Like a living organism, it continuously adapts itself to the demands of the environment. Audiences now move from one medium to the next with astonishing ease.

'Transmedia' or 'convergence media' are much more than simple buzzwords.

Rather than using different media channels to simply retell the same story thread, this new method of storytelling allows the writer to utilise each channel to communicate different elements of that story.

Films, video games, websites, smart phone and tablet applications, comic books, and other media become equal chapters of a complete, unified story.

Producers have great opportunities to get their audiences actively involved on numerous levels. They can also boost their revenue by increasing the longevity of their products.

Two of our projects attracted quite a lot of attention. The first being Ultratrail, created by Arte's Head of Cinema, Michel Reilhac and Henry Waltz, a steampunk project designed by the young genius, Emil Goodman. Both projects move beyond the cinematic experience. Each story has multiple components that manifest themselves as games.

All this was possible thanks to the Invex fund that aids creative companies to explore new markets.

Our days were very hectic, moving from one meeting to another, talking finance, deconstructing budgets and forging new relationships. Despite our work commitments, both Dean, the other partner, and I, slipped away occasionally to go watch a film.

After all, this year's festival offered a cinephile's dream of a program. David Cronenberg, Jacques Audiard, Wes Anderson, Michael Haneke, Alain Resnais, Abbas Kiarostami, Thomas Vinterberg, Walter Salles, Ken Loach, Leos Carax, Cristian Mungiu and Matteo Garrone were all screening their latest work.

Holy Motors, a loopy, intoxicating movie by Leos Carax was our first treat. I have to say that it is not a film for everyone; the picture is laden with heavy symbolism and metaphors that can easily be lost in translation. From the opening scene it was clear we were in for a David Lynch-style experience.

Many pundits placed Holy Motors as a clear favourite for the Palmes D'Or. I can't say I would have disagreed but personally I definitely preferred Michael Haneke's Amour, which, at the end, triumphed. It is a brilliantly structured story that focuses on love and sacrifice. Gripping in its simplicity, it tells the tale of an elderly couple coping with the wife's worsening health.

The gigantic performances of 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva and of 81-year-old Jean-Louis Trintignant create an intense experience. Hopefully the award will encourage our local distributers to bring the film to the island rather than inundate the screens with just hollow popcorn stories. This is Haneke's second Palme d'Or in three years: he also won the top prize in 2009 for The White Ribbon.

I was always a huge fan of Thomas Vinterberg and was quite excited to watch his latest movie, The Hunt. I have been using Vinterberg's Festen as a teaching tool for as far as I can remember. Unfortunately, The Hunt wasn't up there with Festen.

Mads Mikkelsen won the award for best male actor for his powerful performance as a man ostracised by his small-town community when he is accused of child abuse.   

While recession and austerity dominate the world headlines, for a few days some of us were lucky to forget the doom and gloomy scenarios of world economics and enjoy the invigorating power of storytelling. It is always a pleasure and an honour to be part of this magic.

I can't wait for next year.


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