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Prepping for Cannes: Balancing Art and Commerce

by Anthony Kaufman
May 13, 2006 3:16 AM
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Available to subscribers only, my first Wall Street Journal Cannes column went up today. Nothing new to readers of the Los Angeles Times or Reuters, the story focuses on Hollywood's increasing dominance at the fest -- including everything from Sony's Sofia Coppola period music-video "Marie-Antoinette" to Dreamworks Animation's Over the Hedge to Paramount's star-studded Alejandro González Iñárritu drama "Babel." It's a development that I find regrettable, but of course, the Journal story conveyed little of this critique.

For any of the Cannes journalists who go to next's Wednesday press conference of "The Da Vinci Code" instead of the new Paraguayan film "Hamaca Paraguaya" or skip Tajik auteur Djamshed Usmonov's latest in favor of the "X-Men: The Land Stand" junket-whore-fest, I say, don't let yourself be used as a publicity shill for the studios. Revolt against the needs of your editors and readers. Instead of filing a story about Audrey Tautou's button-nose or the second coming of Dr. Jean Grey, write about minimalist Latin America cinema or the neorealist impulse of post-Soviet filmmaking. Yeah, right. As my conflicting duties covering the fest for indieWIRE and the Journal, I will be a living embodiment of Cannes's art-commerce contradiction. If I have any self-respect, I will do my best to find the right balance.

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