06 février 2012

Cannes vs. Oscars

"The [Cannes] festival is something of France’s answer to the Oscars (more so than the Césars, its annual film awards) and a modest bulwark against Hollywood hegemony."
Unwelcome Guest of Honor at Festivals (Manohla Dargis; NYT; 30 September 2011) 
For the FESTIVAL SEASON, here is a crash course in world cinema institutions for the clueless NYT's co-editor in chief :

Oscars (Foreign Language) Cannes (Palme d'Or)
organised by the national Academy NOT organised by the national Academy
once a year, looking back at the previous year's production
(AFTER all nominees had their commercial run)
once a year, inaugurating the production of the year to come
(BEFORE films are distributed internationally)
Lasts less than a day. Zero film projections (apart from 5 sec teasers for the nominations) Lasts 10 full days. Over 50 film projections (just for the competition)
ZERO international première international PREMIERES (only few had a prior national première)
60-some submissions by national governments (official choice/political censorship issues)  1500-2000 FREE submissions by filmmakers themselves from around the world (regardless of their language/origin)
1 title per country / eligibility restrictions NO limitations
Narrowed down to 5 nominees (same number every year) most popular among Academy voters (popular consensus by industry people) Narrowed down to 19-25 nominees (fluctuates depending on quality of submissions) selected by the curators (critical evaluation by experts)
Populist, consensual, conservative, commercial selection Challenging, subversive, non-commercial selection
Foreign films compete in a parallel category (because the top award is hogged by National-centric commercial successes).
The same movie could win both "Best Picture" and "Best Foreign Language"
Common competition for ALL countries to win the top award (rarely won by French films).
Parallel awards (Un Certain Regard, Quinzaine, SiC) can't go to the movies of the main competition!
Judged by a POPULAR vote among random American-only people from the film industry (Academy members) an INTERNATIONAL jury of 10 people from the film industry selected by the festival committee (experts) with a jury president (tie breaker power)
Voters must watch all 5 nominees within 3 days (in a private screening separately) Jury members must watch all 20-some nominees on the big screen within 10 days (with an audience during the festival)
Voters cast their (blind) vote individually, secretly, for just one (secondary) award  The jury debates openly among themselves and decide on all the awards
Winner is the one that gets the most votes (statistical consensus of the mass) Winner depends on the agreement reached by ALL juries (informed consensus of a few)
Best Foreign Language Picture is a secondary award for the pride of foreign governments, and is not a critical (nor popular) reference La Palme d'Or is the main award with a world-class critical reputation
The producer receives the award The director receives the award
the Foreign Language Oscar is often a miss (not to mention Best Picture) The history of la Palme d'Or is full of IMPORTANT films
The Foreign Language Oscar never gets a wide release in the USA Palme d'Or awards secure a wider release throughout the world, and a cinéphile success (except maybe in the USA)
There are 30 awards in total There are 8 awards in total
the ceremony lasts between 3h and 4h20 on live TV the ceremony lasts 45 min on live TV

The Oscars only accept in the "foreign film" category films selected by the government of these countries (official culture, not counter-culture). The Cannes festival doesn't do that since 1972! Now Cannes selects whatever subversive film they want, even if it is smuggled out on an USB key hidden inside a cake, because that filmmaker (Panahi) is censured, repressed, and imprisoned by his government! Unfortunately the AMPAS can't say as much...

Same for the Best Picture Oscar :
  • When was the last time a non-English film won the Best Picture Oscar? NEVER
  • How many non-American English movies (i.e. British) won the Best Picture Oscar? 8 in 83 years (The King's Speech 2010; Slumdog Millionaire 2008; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003; The Last Emperor 1987; Gandhi 1982; Chariots of Fire 1981; Oliver!  1968; Hamlet 1948)
  • Only 21 secondary awards in 83 years have been given to foreign films (that's 1 every 4 years on average!)
According to the Academy, if it's not in English, foreign countries CANNOT make better films than Hollywood, ever. Who believes that, except Hollywood executives in their little isolationist bubble?
Of course the Oscars is a national-centric, self-serving, promotional fest for Hollywood... just like Les Césars in France is destined to celebrate the FRENCH film industry, not the best film in the world. 
Cannes however, is meant to be fair towards world cinema and is doing a pretty good job, contrary to what the *BLEEP* (Tarr's expletive that was censored in the NYT) NYT thinks in their guts...

The institutions are fundamentally different, their purpose is incomparable, their scope and relevance are so far apart. The selection of films, the voting process, the final award have little in common. She pretends she is pro-art cinema, but a move like this proves she cares more about being in the pocket of the Oscar Academy than to defend WORLD-CLASS ART CINEMA. 

In this day and age, if you still have a job as a movie reviewer in the media, it's probably because the studio tycoons don't find you threatening at all, and that you're playing along with the marketing propaganda (exciting the public about event-entertainment, and ridiculing the "artsy-fartsy" to keep dumbing down the masses). Look around you! The art-snobbism has died out, yet everyone keeps bringing up that old scapegoat joke to make themselves feel better about their bland taste. Even educated "critics" who travel all the way to Cannes are incapable to take notice...  

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1 commentaire:

HarryTuttle a dit…

The Artist and The Tree of Life were selected/nominated at both Cannes (before everyone else) and the Oscars (after everyone else)... Which is good for the Oscars to partially match with the higher standards of Cannes curation (including an experimental narrative like Malick's is indeed an notable improvement for the Academy).
The Cannes jury awarded The Tree of Life (the more challenging), and the Oscars prefered The Artist (the more commercial movie, even though it is silent)
I rest my case.
And now The AMPAS will boast about picking a non-American film, and will say that a silent film is so subversive today... while The Artist (if a quality commercial narrative, it deserved an award) was not the "Best Film of the Year", not the Best "American" Film. But the AMPAS's own perception of comformist/independent is unfortunately skewed, and they don't know it.