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Cannes Day 9: France Responds to Welcome To New York, Ukraine & Azerbaijan Unite

Welcome to New York

News items of interest as the Cannes Film Festival rolls through its ninth day:

• At The Conversation, Sue Harris has an overview of the furious reception Abel Ferrara’s Welcome To New York has received in France. As she points out, the casting of Gérard Depardieu is far from incidental:

Depardieu’s casting breaches the fictional veneer of Ferrara’s film in ways that no other actor could. No one could be more suited to play the nation’s premier “disgraced” Frenchmen than the other principle one.

And so, thanks to a volatile mix of the real and the imagined – a heady cocktail of sex, politics and bad behaviour in both cases – the story becomes less about the narrative content of the film than the high-profile collision of France’s two most notorious “bad boys”.

• On one of Cannes’ beaches, fest-goers can marvel at a five-foot sand sculpture of the great Indian director Satyajit Ray, his enormous head resting against a 20-foot film reel.The Indian Express‘ Vandana Kalra profiles sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik, who came to Cannes direct from a sand sculpting competition in Taiwan and will be returning to India shortly to craft a sculpture of incoming prime minister Narendra Modi. The picture of Ray’s gigantic sandy head is well worth a look.

• A small tidbit: so many people showed up to see Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary about recent Ukrainian turmoil, Maidan, that the Ukrainian pavilion wasn’t able to accommodate them all. To help provide more space, the Azerbaijani pavilion was connected. “Our colleagues in the Azerbaijani pavilion said that our land is your land,” Loznitsa is quoted as saying — a statement with ironic overtones, given ongoing turmoil over who has control of the Crimea.

• Beyond filmmakers, industry attendees and celebrities, Cannes also plays host to super-dedicated autograph-hunters. As Reuters’ Alexandria Sage reports, they’re a deeply committed crew: one women arrived five days before the festival’s start to claim her spot on a stepladder across from the red carpet steps. “I’m living my dream,” says 61-year-old Martine Santoro, who grew up with images from Cannes as a child growing in Paris and vowed to attend one day. She has a toy piano attached to her stepladder as an homage to jury president Jane Campion’s The Piano. As an attention-getter, it worked: she got Campion’s autograph opening night.

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