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What Do We Lose When Cannes Is Canceled?

The Cannes Film Festival has been derailed a handful of times since the inaugural edition was postponed because of World War II. For the most part, the show has gone on since 1946, but not this year. The 73rd iteration, scheduled to start May 12, is no more. Instead, in June, the festival will release a list of movies that had been chosen for this year, anointing them with the coveted Cannes label. Our critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott and our awards season columnist, Kyle Buchanan, all festival veterans, reflect on what makes this event so essential for movie lovers.

自从第二次世界大战导致首届戛纳电影节推迟之后,它又有过几次停办的经历。自1946年创立以来,该电影节大体上运转顺利,但今年却无法举办。原定于5月12日开幕的第73届戛纳电影节已宣布停办。它将在6月公布今年入围的电影名单,并颁发人们梦寐以求的戛纳奖项。我们的影评人曼诺拉·达吉斯(Manohla Dargis)和A·O·斯科特(A.O. Scott)以及我们的颁奖季专栏作家凯尔·布坎南(Kyle Buchanan)都是电影节的常客,他们思考了这个电影节为什么会对电影爱好者来说那样重要。

KYLE BUCHANAN So much for the victory lap. After a superlative 2019 edition of Cannes that launched Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” — the first Palme d’Or winner in 64 years to also take the best-picture Oscar — expectations were sky high for this year’s festival, which was meant to begin in mid-May. But as a pandemic continues to hold the world hostage, it became unthinkable to proceed with a two-week gathering that draws film glitterati from all over the globe and hurls them into a couture-clad mosh pit.

凯尔·布坎南:关于获奖庆祝已经谈得太多了。继2019年戛纳电影节将最佳影片奖授予奉俊昊(Bong Joon Ho)的《寄生虫》(Parasite)之后——这是64年来第一部同时获得金棕榈奖与奥斯卡最佳影片奖的电影——人们对原定于5月中旬开幕的本届电影节期望极高。但随着大流行继续劫持整个世界,为世界各地的电影界名流举办一场为期两周,充斥着声色犬马的盛会这样的事,变得难以想象了。


So, Cannes is effectively canceled, with organizers hoping to regroup somewhere down the line. Manohla and Tony, you both know your way around the world’s most prestigious film festival. What is lost when Cannes is stricken from the calendar?


A.O. SCOTT Unlike the three major fall festivals — Venice, Telluride and Toronto — Cannes stands off to the side of the American Oscar season. Which isn’t to say that it lacks hype, but rather that its hype is more self-contained and self-regarding. It doesn’t need the academy, though it happily embraces Hollywood. For 11 or 12 days, the festival becomes a cinematic universe in its own right. When you’re inside it, the rest of the world seems unreal. From outside, it looks like a strange snow globe full of movie stars.


But it matters because, behind all the frantic photo calls and yacht parties and swanny red carpet marches is an almost religious devotion to cinema, an ardor for the art that isn’t snobbish or cynical. All kinds of movies show up in the main competition and the various sidebars, and even though some are destined to win prizes and catch the attention of the press, they are all given at least a moment of glory by the festival itself. There are few sights more touching to me than watching a first-timer walking up the Palais steps to their gala screening, walking the same path as Palme winners and pantheon auteurs.


You can’t get that kind of excitement on a streaming platform, or the serendipitous sense of discovery that ripples from Cannes into the larger movie world. I said before that there’s something religious about the whole thing, and losing it feels like seeing a page ripped out of the sacred calendar. The question is whether it can be stitched back in.


MANOHLA DARGIS I have no doubt that Cannes — and most festivals and theaters and movies and filmgoers — will return. Certainly I’m rooting for the festival, which I’ve attended for years and love. You’re seeing some of the finest new movies in the world in one big gulp, which is thrilling and exhausting and crazy-making, just because you want to see everything and can’t. And because it shows so many premieres, you can discover them on your own. I assumed that “Parasite” would be good because, well, Bong. But at Cannes I saw it before everyone could tell me (and tell me) that it’s great. Going is a privilege, on many levels.

曼诺拉·达吉斯(Manohla Dargis):我毫不怀疑,戛纳电影节——以及大多数电影节、影院、影片和观众——都会回归。我当然支持这个电影节,我已经参加很多年了,非常喜欢。在这里你可以一口气看完世界上最出色的一些新电影,刺激感官的同时也精疲力尽,让人疯狂,只因为你什么都想看,但却不可能做到。也因为很多电影在这里首映,你可以自行发现宝藏。我猜《寄生虫》会很棒是因为它是奉俊昊作品。但在戛纳电影节上,我可以在所有人(不断)告诉我它有多棒之前看到它。在很多层面上,去戛纳电影节是一种特权。

If it’s hard for Americans to grasp the importance of Cannes to the rest of the world, it’s because our isolationism extends to culture. It was exciting to see “Parasite” take off in the States, which happened in part because of the festival. It’s a staggering publicity generator, and the thousands of journalists who attended last year’s event seeded interest in the movie internationally, giving it terrific momentum that only increased as it played other world festivals. Disney can dominate opening weekends with just its brand. But movies like “Parasite” need festivals, and to go really big, I think they need Cannes.


BUCHANAN You’re both right about the way Cannes, for all its glamour, treats auteur filmmaking like a divine calling: When thousands of people are dressed to the nines in the audience of a three-hour, slow-cinema art film — and when they jump to their feet with an ovation afterward — you start to wonder if the French lack the words for “superhero” or “franchise” and are better off for it.


But just as hidebound Hollywood is going through a streaming-era upheaval, so too is Cannes, and I’m always interested in how the tension between tradition and progress plays out there. Whether it’s the festival’s repudiation of Netflix, or the way Cannes grapples with the #MeToo movement and gender parity, the controversies on the Croisette can be instructive. It seems strange to say I’ll miss all that, but I find that Cannes holds a chic, cracked mirror up to Hollywood, and I always leave with a new perspective on what I’m returning to.


SCOTT In the past couple of years, the Cannes vs. Netflix querelle — yes, I’m going to pepper this with Gallicisms, just try to stop me! — has served as a piquant microcosm of the larger tensions within the global film industry. The French tradition of subsidizing and defending its cultural patrimony is often mocked by Americans in and out of the film business, but if I have to choose sides between France and monopoly-minded American tech companies, I’ll take France every time.


But there’s no doubt that le streaming as an economic and cultural force has been strengthened by the coronavirus, and that the question of whether Cannes will return plays into deeper uncertainties and larger anxieties about the future of cinema. Are people going to flock to Toronto and Venice in September? Will the Oscars be forced to make peace with Netflix and its ilk? Is moviegoing fated to become a quaint, niche pursuit, or one that involves a grave risk? I don’t think I’m the only cinephile experiencing a frisson of dread.

但毫无疑问,le streaming(流媒体)作为一种经济和文化力量已经被冠状病毒所加强,而戛纳电影节是否会回归的问题,加深了人们对电影未来的不确定和焦虑。到9月,人们还会涌向多伦多和威尼斯吗?奥斯卡会被迫与Netflix及其同类和解吗?看电影注定要成为一种奇特、小众的追求,还是需要承担严重的风险?我不认为我是唯一一个因恐惧而frisson(战栗)的影迷。

DARGIS I’m Team Cannes, too. I’ve been thinking about moviegoing a lot while in lockdown because I’m spending an inordinate amount of time in front of my TV (watching old Hollywood and a British cop show). There’s nothing like being forcibly kept home to appreciate the beauty of going out, including to cinemas. This has reminded me that while, like you both, I write about movies for a living, I don’t write enough about the experience of seeing them in theaters. But we should because it’s crucial to how we see and understand movies, and certainly how they affect us.


I recently interviewed James Gray, who has had four films in the festival’s main competition, including “The Immigrant,” in 2013. We started talking about moviegoing and he said that, basically, it is his aim as a filmmaker to keep your attention fixed. Or as he put it, “My job is to sit you in that theater from beginning to end where you’re not thinking about your bladder and you have no choice but to stay there — and that’s the whole idea of mounting tensions dramatically.” When you pause a movie or start texting midway through it, you turn a movie into television.

我最近采访了詹姆斯·格雷(James Gray),他有四部作品进入过戛纳电影节的主竞赛单元,包括2013年的《移民》。我们开始谈论去影院看电影,他说,基本上,作为一名电影创作者,他的目的就是吸引你的注意。或者按照他的说法,“我的工作就是让你从头到尾坐在影院里,不去想你的膀胱,别无选择只能待在那里——这就是慢慢累积起戏剧张力的目的。”当你在看电影的过程中暂停,或是开始发短信,你就把电影变成了电视。

In a recent interview, Thierry Frémaux, the festival director, said, “Cannes stands up for films screened in theaters.” I love that. There’s a great deal to criticize about the event, including its commitment to certain terrible filmmakers and the behind-the-scenes deal making that invariably finds a mediocre French movie (or two) taking a competition slot. That said, Cannes — like all good film events of its kind — isn’t just about the movies. It’s about the collective experience, about weeping and laughing at movies together and talking about them afterward. It’s about community, which doesn’t exist when you stream Netflix at home while eating your Postmates delivery.

戛纳电影节的艺术指导蒂耶里·弗雷莫(Thierry Frémaux)在最近一次采访时说,“戛纳电影节坚决支持在影院上映的电影。”我爱这句话。关于戛纳电影节是有很多批评,包括它对某些糟糕的电影人的不离不弃,以及总让一(或两)部平庸的法国电影占据竞赛名额的幕后交易。即便如此,戛纳电影节——就像所有优秀电影节一样——不仅仅是关于电影本身。它是一起看电影时哭泣与欢笑、并在之后谈论它的共同经历。当你在家里边看Netflix边吃Postmates送来的外卖,这种集体性的体验是不存在的。

So, I stand up for films screened in theaters, too, and for Cannes (though sometimes while booing).

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