Kate Gerova, Head of Marketing at Curzon Cinemas, has returned from the South of France where she braved the sunshine, the beach, the champagne and the world-class films of Cannes 2017.
Below, Kate brings tales of fashionistas, mammoth queues, and films that will mark 2017 as a year to remember.
1. THE QUEUE
HAPPY END (Dir. Michael Haneke)
This unimaginative photo captures the reality of one of the 'hot' films in this year’s festival.
I spent a long time queuing to see the latest Michael Haneke. It's called Happy End, but what are the chances of that not being ironic?
...much time passes...
I'm still in the queue. If all else fails I'm going to go and hang out with these guys who look pretty happy, and why not? 'Cos that's a cinema next to the beach. NEXT TO THE BEACH, people. And, yes, those are yachts you see in the distance.
...several hours later...
Happy End might be the most accessible Haneke ever. Maybe that's why the critics have been sniffy. I'm not, I liked it. Great last shot. Vive la Huppert!
Love this photo of Isabelle and Jessica Chastain.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT (Dir. Sean Baker)
Another day, another queue (I'm not complaining, of course. This is the South of France).
This queue was for The Florida Project, Sean Baker's follow up to 2015's Tangerine, and I didn't get in because the queue went silly. This is what's called a 'buzz' title. Screen International called it "a remarkable study of poverty, family and personal responsibility".
2. CINEMA OF CRUELTY
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
Some films were out to haunt you. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (is Yorgos Lanthimos in therapy?) was one of them.
Colin Farrell plays a surgeon and Nicole Kidman his chilly wife. One of the surgeon's patients died on the operating table and now he has an unthinkable price to pay. It’s not funny, but there are some laugh-out loud moments – probably just to give people the opportunity to breathe.
LOVELESS (Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev)
From the director of Leviathan, some of the images within this film will stay with you for a long, long time.
Divorcing, squabbling parents fail to notice their 12-year-old son has gone missing. A volunteer search team go looking. Cue incredible cinematography as they try to uncover what has happened to him. Heart-breaking.
A GENTLE CREATURE (Dir. Sergei Loznitsa)
A Gentle Creature will definitely not be for everyone. A Kafkaesque nightmare ensues when a woman has a parcel returned from her husband who is supposed to be in prison. No-one can tell her where he is, so she goes looking.
There were many things to admire in this ambitious film but, at 150 minutes, it tested my limits, especially as it included what seemed like a highly unnecessary assault on the woman, but probably serves as an allegory for the Ukraine/Russian conflict.
IN THE FADE (DIr. Fatih Akin)
Last film of the festival. I'd like to imagine I have achieved a 2kg loss in weight through all the running around, sweating in the humidity, and eating lunch standing in a queue (calories don't linger if you stand to eat, right?)
I climb the steps to the Palais one last time, then climb the ones inside, and then again in the vertiginous auditorium to take my seat for In The Fade. Director Fatih Akin's Head On was the first film I worked on at what was then Soda Pictures, and Fatih, along with his long-time editor and collaborator, Andrew Bird, is a top bloke. Hanging out with them is still one of my career highlights, so I have a lot of anticipation for this one.
The film proves particularly timely after the tragedy in Manchester. We follow the aftermath of a hate crime, as Diane Kruger’s character fails to come to terms with what has happened. Kruger has never been better and deservedly walked away with the best actor prize at the festival. A superb performance.
GOOD TIME (Dir. The Safdie Brothers)
So it turns out that R Patz can do gritty and a little bit scuzzy. Close up you can't deny the symmetry of his beautiful face, but his character in Good Time plays the wrong side of the law. He's not wicked exactly, but everyone is pretty much expendable.
The Safdie brothers had not been on my radar prior to this Cannes, but there was a lot of expectancy about this title and, if retro 1980s thrillers with an electronica soundtrack are your thing, then it will be right up your street. It’s pretty stylish and distinctive.
JEUNE FEMME (Dir. Léonor Serraille)
And now for something completely different - the free and delightful Jeune Femme, a sort of French Frances Ha about a young woman forging her way in the big city, broke and confused. This title came out of nowhere (for me) and was such a treat. It’s rare to see such an uninhibited female performance of a young woman equal measures infuriating and charming.
Also soon on a screen near you, the captivating, utterly original I Am Not A Witch.
You’ll have seen the red carpet pictures, so there's no point in duplicating more of those. But everyone gets dressed up in Cannes, regardless of the backdrop.
This is my personal favourite - two fashionistas.
Most of the films mentioned have UK distribution, so should appear on a Curzon screen near you in the coming months.
Adieu for another year.