The Cannes Film Festival, which just kicked off this Wednesday, is celebrating seventy years of being the preeminent international showcase for the world’s greatest filmmakers. But even the most venerated auteurs have felt the sting of rejection at this annual event. Our latest series on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Booed at Cannes!, gathers a selection of notoriously polarizing works that were met with derision at their premieres but have since gone on to win acclaim, ranging from classics like Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura (1960) and Carl Th. Dreyer’s Gertrud (1964) to contemporary shockers like Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009).
Also up this week: a pair of films about the allure of the camera, a powerful coming-of-age drama from British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, a documentary portrait of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and a double bill of Cannes prize–winning masterpieces.
The complex role of photography in everyday life is explored in Hu Wei’s 2013 Oscar-nominated short Butter Lamp and Edward Yang’s 2000 masterpiece Yi Yi. Hu’s film charts the story of a photographer and his assistant as they take family portraits in a remote Tibetan village, in the process observing the erosion of local culture by the forces of globalization. Yang’s intimate epic captures the tensions lying beneath the surface of contemporary middle-class Taipei, highlighting the perspective of a young boy who becomes obsessed with his camera.
Andrea Arnold won a Cannes Jury Prize for this gritty work of social realism, which follows a fifteen-year-old housing project resident (the remarkable Katie Jarvis) as she struggles with her burgeoning sexual attraction toward her mother’s predatory new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender). The supplements from our edition include a conversation with Fassbender and three of the director’s short films: Milk (1998), Dog (2001), and the Oscar-winning Wasp (2003).
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Antonioni’s countercultural masterpiece last year, Italian journalist Valentina Agostinis revisited key locations in the film, creating a documentary that explores the auteur’s meticulous approach to art direction and photography, and features interviews with dialogue assistant Piers Haggard, fashion photographer David Montgomery, former Yardbirds manager Simon Napier-Bell, and others.
This double bill pairs two films that share a spirit of rebellion and skillfully align our sympathies with the underdogs they portray: Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped (1956) and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La haine (1995). Both Bresson’s suspenseful yet humane jailbreak masterpiece and Kassovitz’s gritty look at cultural volatility in contemporary France received the best director award at Cannes.