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Manuel de Layet [Film Festival 04.14.17]

For those of us who consider Cinema to be the crowning artistic achievement of mankind, the official announcement of the Cannes festival selection is always like being a toddler on Christmas morning, there is a kind of suspense and trepidation running through our spines; hopes, fears, tremendous joys anticipated. And of course once the wrappers are lying shredded on the floor, there's the dull pain of looking at some disappointing presents from aunt Lydia.

The selection process is one of the fabled Great Filters. 49 pictures will be screened out of the 1930 sent for review, a process that surely is grueling for teams involved and worth keeping in mind when judging the final list. In all honesty, my only real disappointment out of all the rumors and gossip building up to the selection was the absence of Roman Polansky's Based on a True Story.

Thematically, it's as soul-suckingly depressing as last year, mostly political stances on the state of the world, migrants and other quests of love in the bleak ruins of civilisation. Not really uplifting but, as Fremaux said, if it's the bulk of what is send to the reviewing panel it's coincidentally the bulk of the selection. So please, directors, lighten up a bit, we know we are in the gutter, let's look at the stars instead of our feet for a change.

The festival has a history of pushing the boundaries of cinema as a medium, being technical precursors, like when they switch from stock to digital, or in their choices of Palme d'Or as the numerous scandals in the course of its existence can attest. And if you are like me, an early adopter and Vive enthusiast, you know that the next iteration of the moving picture is Virtual Reality. It is still in its infancy, let's be honest: the only real achievement of VR as of right now is porn.

This might change after the festival because I do think that the tremendous kick in the balls needed to jump-start everything in this new medium and it is finally here: there will be a VR-short shown during the festival.

This is already fascinating in itself since we are still a mere year into VR, and it is done by someone whose camerawork feels so constrained by the mere two-dimensional screen that I can't wait to see what he can do when given 6 degrees of freedom in a sphere. The short is called Blood and Sand and the director is Alejandro G Inarritu. Just let that sit in your mind for a while, remembering the assault scene from The Revenant.

If some one can show the world what VR can do it's him.

Our media consumption is changing, boundaries between television and cinema are blurrier than ever, and this edition of the Festival is acknowledging it by showing two TV-shows. Innocuous sentence when I'm talking about the screening of the whole second season of Jane Campion's "Top of the Lake" and the first new episodes of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks."

As for the actual selection, listing everything worth noting means speaking of the whole because it's that solid. Since good portion of my favourite directors are showing pictures this year I'll just give you the guaranteed reviews of this edition:

Takeshi Miike - Blade of the Immortal
Yorgos Lanthimos - The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Sophia Coppola - The Beguiled
Andrey Zvyagintsev - Nelyubov

You can watch the press conference in its entirety below.

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