Cannes Day #1: The Congress
There cannot be much to complain about when your travels go relatively to plan, but that does not mean that the first day of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival was not a long and hectic day for me. Having less than an hour between both of my flights, one of which included customs, I arrived just as the boarding was about to end for both of my connecting flights. But when I arrived I was greeted with “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey’s that played on my bus ride from the Nice airport into the city where I will call home for the next 10 days, Juan les Pins. I knew that only getting 3 or so hours of sleep was going make the first day challenging and exhausting, and it proved to be so.
Juan les Pins beach
Because I only had time for one film on the first day I decided to give Ari Folman’s buzzed about film, The Congress, a look. The Congress is a part of the Director’s Fortnight program, a sidebar event that is held in tandem with the actual Cannes Film Festival. The screenings for these films are not at the famous Palais des Festival, but are instead held in other theaters spread across the city. I took a few wrong turns but eventually found Studio 13, a theater that is tucked into the residential section of the city. Waiting outside the theater for it to open its doors, I found a few people that spoke fluent English. Turned out that they are all writers from different publications in New York. The screening went mostly fine, apart from an awkward minute or two when the lights suddenly turned on about half way through the film. Afterwards, I made a mad dash to try catching one of the last trains back to Juan les Pins. Because there was a train that was running late, plus the fact that the station announcements are in French only, I nearly got on the wrong train about three different times. I did eventually find the right train back and it felt amazing to finally be done with the day that felt close to two days because of the time change.
In front of Studio 13 at MJC Picaud
The Congress seems to be an obvious satire on movie studios, but the film continues to explore other plotlines along the way that makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what message the film was trying to get across. The truth is, there are many ideas expressed in the film and that might be its biggest downfall. There are laugh-out-loud moments when the film is making fun of movie studios. There are some fascinating insights on the future of cinema. There is even some good old family drama and love interests in the film. The problem is some areas work much better than others. One thing is for sure, it is a wildly ambitious film – perhaps it was trying to achieve just a little too much though.