Showroom Cinema: Reflecting on highlights by Andy Moore

With the 72nd Cannes film festival now over, and all the prizes awarded, I reflect on some of my highlights from this year’s line-up (and my first visit to the world’s most prestigious film festival).

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 3:38 pm
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Screening early in the festival and receiving strong reviews but missing out on a prize this time was Ken Loach. Loach returned to the Croisette (for the 14th time) with his gig economy drama Sorry We Missed You.

Set in Newcastle, the film follows former construction worker Ricky as he takes on a zero-hours contract as a “self-employed” delivery driver.

I thought this was a really strong piece of work from the veteran social realist director.

Brimming with righteous anger, it’s very much a companion piece to his 2016 Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake.

But the film feels richer, more developed and more lived in than that earlier work.

Equally affecting, urgent and timely was the Channel 4 produced documentary For Sama, winner of the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary.

Constructed from the video diaries of Syrian journalist Waad al-Kateab, the film follows her life in Aleppo from the first stirrings of the uprising to her decision to remain in Aleppo and start a family there throughout the siege.

It’s an extraordinary portrait of strength and resilience in the face of impossible circumstances, and a film that deserves to be seen as widely as possible.

The film is screening during Sheffield Doc/Fest in June. Elsewhere in the official selection, and hotly tipped for the Palme d’Or but missing out on the top prize to Bong Joon-ho’s biting “upstairs/downstairs” satire Parasite, was Celine Sciamma’s flawless period drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

I’ve loved Sciamma’s work since seeing Tomboy in 2011 so my expectations were high, and this new film doesn’t disappoint.

I also loved Mati Diop’s gorgeous and mysterious Atlantics, which rightly won the Grand Prix for its story of migration, exploitation and the return of the repressed on the Senegalese coast.

Diop was also the first black woman to have a film in competition at Cannes. Her presence on the red carpet felt truly exciting, and her film vital, fresh and urgent.

Netflix have acquired worldwide rights for Atlantics, though they haven’t yet announced a release strategy.

Other notable mentions include the brilliantly inventive animation I Lost My Body, the hilarious tragicomedy The Climb and Xavier Dolan’s Mattias et Maxime.

I sadly missed out on Robert Eggers’ much hyped The Lighthouse after queuing for nearly two hours in the rain. It really is a glamorous life…