Visions of the World at Un Certain Regard 2014

in 67th Cannes Film Festival

by Olivier Pélisson

Created in 1978, the section Un Certain Regard reached its 37th edition during the 67th Cannes Film Festival. On the evidence of this selection it stays true to its founding aims: to discover and to show singular films that renew cinematic expression, as much by their aesthetic as by their themes.

Twenty features were presented this year, providing a vast open window on our world and its state of health. Works came from the five continents, Africa (Ivory Coast), Oceania (Australia), Asia (Israel, China, India, South Korea), America (USA, Argentina) and Europe (Spain, Italia, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Norway, UK, France).

So from these offerings how is the world? It seems not in the best of health: Humanity is the victim of constant pressures…

An Aboriginal old man strongly resists restrictive laws in Charlie’s Country by Rolf de Heer. A Korean lesbian policewoman struggles against prejudices in A Girl at My Door (Dohee-ya) by July Jung. A Chinese family goes beyond itself to cure the father in Fantasia by Wang Chao. A young Spanish couple tries to survive through the economic crisis in Hermosa Juventud by Jaime Rosales, while the young Greek brothers are dreaming of better days in Xenia by Panos H. Koutras.

Meanwhile a young girl has to keep the faith against indifferent parents in Incompresa by Asia Argento and a woman growing old wants to preserve her freedom at any cost in Party Girl by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis. A Norwegian couple is troubled by the husband’s cowardice in Turist by Ruben Östlund. An English guy can’t escape his Mafia family and his fatal destiny in Snow in Paradise by Andrew Hulme.

There is only one step from pressure to nightmare and horror, such as the horror carried out by men in the pictures and the words of the photographer Sebastião Salgado in The Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

Or there’s the horror of a terrifying vision of the night in Lost River by Ryan Gosling and the horror of dogs revolting against humans in White God (Fehér isten) by Kornél Mundruczó. The horror of a man controlled by tyranny can be found in Run by Philippe Lacôte and the horror of men ready to do their worst to get money in Titli by Kanu Behl. Horror confronts an ordinary man in the face of the murder of his wife in Blue Room (La Chambre bleue) by Mathieu Amalric while there is the horror of the loss of a child in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby by Ned Benson and in Jauja by Lisandro Alonso. A daughter experiences horror of being an incestuous slave of her father and of herself in That Lovely Girl by Keren Yedaya.

Hopefully, nightmare can turn into sweetness of dream and tale, like the final and oneiric chapter of the magnificent and powerful Jauja by Lisandro Alonso, in which a father rediscovers his daughter.

And finally, love still makes the world go round such as in family love in Xenia and Party Girl; possible love in Bird People by Pascale Ferran and difficult love in Titli. Love in danger infuses Turist and strong love in Hermosa Juventud or The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Mad love forms the fabric of That Lovely Girl, Amour fou and Blue Room.

The powerful dream of better days for the planet has also come thanks to The Salt of the Earth, where Sebastião Salgado explains his and his wife’s ecological wish to rebuild the place of his youth in Brazil. After seeing the worst as a photo-reporter, he wants to give birth again to a jungle where desert has grown. And it works! There is wide hope, and a positive energy transmitted by film.

The energy of youth was also present through the seven films shot by new directors, comprising one third of Un Certain Regard, a record among this year’s Cannes selections. The titles were: Party Girl, A Girl at My Door, Lost River, Run, Snow in Paradise, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Titli. Party Girl finally received the Caméra d’Or, rewarding the best first feature of all the Cannes sections.

This human adventure, cleverly and intensely made my three young filmmakers, is a tough and moving portrait of a lady who desperately wants to go on driving her life as she wants. She goes out, drinking, dancing, cheating, laughing and enjoying every single day, and at the same time receives in return the love of her four children. The jury headed by actress and director Nicole Garcia chose well, and with this accolade provided continued proof that Un Certain Regard still stays as a true place for discovery.

Edited by Richard Mowe