CANNES, FRANCE — This past week, I was given the incredible opportunity to attend the most important film festival in the world — the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Cannes hosts the most selective film festival in the world and this year featured one of the best lineups in recent memory. Films like Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “Dolar y gloria” were just a few of the prestigious films featured.
Along with the major releases from internationally acclaimed filmmakers, the festival also features many different sections that focus on the less popular films and gives independent filmmakers a larger platform. The two week festival is the heartbeat of international cinema, and all of the most important figures within film were in attendance.
As the festival is invite-only, I was so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to attend. Unfortunately, with the sheer amount of different sections and films, combined with the hours of waiting in lines to ensure I got a seat, I was unable to view every film. Of the films I viewed at the festival, I have selected a few of my favorites to feature.
“A Hidden Life” by Terrence Malick
Malick is no stranger to the festival and he was back again this year with his latest film, “A Hidden Life.” The film follows the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. Malick focuses his film around the philosophical investigation into the moral ambiguity of lying to escape death. While the film is a true story, Malick avoids using tropes associated with the biopic genre and focuses on Jägerstätter’s relationship with his family and his inner turmoil during his life. With Malick’s international acclaim and popularity, this film will most likely receive a release in the U.S.
“The Climb” by Michael Angelo Covino
Covino’s film was one of the least talked about films at the festival, but certainly one of the most impressively shot films in recent history to premiere at the festival. Using smooth long-takes, Covino expertly depicts the rocky friendship between two best friends: Mike and Kyle. The film takes place over several years and follows the friends through many major life events. This film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival and won the Coup de cœur award.
“Ang Hupa (The Halt)” by Lav Diaz
Lav Diaz is known for his contribution to the art of slow cinema, and “Ang Hupa (The Halt)” is no exception. Although it wasn’t his longest film, “Ang Hupa (The Halt)” is nearly a five-hour film depicting the dangers of a fascist government. The film, which takes place about 30 years in the future, is a low-budget, sci-fi film that covers everything from the psychology of the Philippines’ dictator to Diaz’s fear of a drone-based police force. While the film’s length may have discouraged people from attending the screening, Diaz’s work was one of the most awe-inspiring films of the festival.
“The Lighthouse” by Robert Eggers
Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” a follow up to his widely popular debut feature “The Witch,” was arguably the most talked-about film at the festival. The film features Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as a pair of lighthouse keepers off the coast of Maine in the 1890s. The two struggle from the psychological effects of isolation and paranoia as they begin to spiral out of control. This film was one of the most wild films I saw while at the festival, and will certainly be a popular one in the U.S. .
“Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho
South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has slowly grown his popularity in the United States with films like “Okja” and “Snowpiercer.” His latest film, “Parasite,” will no doubt follow in the same path. The film follows an unemployed family’s interest in the glamorous life of the Parks, a wealthy family. As the family’s interest begins to grow deeper, they discover dark secrets within the Park family. Not only does Joon-ho’s expertly crafted dark comedy reflect the growing tensions between the classes within South Korea, the film also includes some of the most suspense-filled scenes of the festival.