The best films I've seen at Cannes have been Canadian shorts. I actually did get to see a bit of Joss Whedon's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. You know the story behind it, right? Joss has been having actor friends over to his house to read Shakespeare for some time. He had an empty month in his schedule after THE AVENGERS, and rather than going somewhere on vacation, he just decided to shoot a Shakespeare play, in black and white, in modern dress, at his house.
It's a very nice house. And it's fun to see Amy Acker (from DOLLHOUSE and ANGEL and CABIN IN THE WOODS) and Fran Kranz (ditto) and the other usual suspects performing Shakespeare. But Joss Whedon is not an outstanding film director. He's an outstanding storyteller and dialoguist. The problem is that here he's filming Shakespeare's story and dialogue. Though he keeps the visuals interesting and gives the actors interesting things to do amid all that dialog, he just doesn't bring enough to it to make it new.
Or so the buyers seemed to feel. The folks at the desk were holding back hordes of Joss fans with badges, hoping to save seats for actual buyers. By the time I got to the theater, maybe eight minute in, the place was almost empty; and it was not a big theater.
Possibly the most inventive film I've seen here is Chris Landreth's animated 3D film SUBCONSCIOUS PASSWORD
, in which C'thulhu, James Joyce, Ayn Rand and Chris's childhood babysitter, among others, try to help Chris remember the name of the guy who seems to know him at the party.
I was also terribly fond of Monica Sauer's whimsical silent THE PROVIDER, about a woman musher who needs a man to provide food for her huskies; and I dug Mark Slutsky's THE DECELERATORS
, a parable about a group of kids who want to freeze time so they can stay in their favorite moments. Monia Chokri's QUELQU'UN D'EXTRAORDINAIRE (en français) tells the story of a not-so-young-anymore woman experiencing a surprising moment at the end of a day that starts badly and then goes to Hell in a handbasket. And Elise de Blois has a really clever and funny story called FOU, RIEN PIS PERSONNE.
I haven't seen all the Canuck shorts yet; I'll try to catch more tomorrow. It was interesting to see on the Cannes program that only Canada and Quebec are providing screenings in the market for their shorts. Cannes has a festival program of shorts, of course, and I know the American Pavilion is holding a screening of student work in their tent; but only Canada and Québec (separate pavilions, of course) are helping their filmmakers this way.
But what's really incredible is the wide variety of technique and style and story and theme in the shorts. A narrative feature has a lot of restrictions on it. A short isn't going to make money anyway, so you can do anything you want; and the audience will tolerate more elliptical story telling over the course of ten minutes than they will for ninety. So you're free to execute on your extraordinary vision. And these guys have.