This year's Cannes Film Festival once again burst into controversy. The Spanish film "Cerrar los ojos" (Cerrar los ojos), shortlisted for the Cannes premiere unit this year, completed its world premiere at the Debussy Hall of the Film Palace at 8:00 pm local time on May 22, but director Victor Víctor Erice himself was not present, and only a few of the leading actors attended the premiere.
On May 22, 2023 local time, Cannes, France, the 76th Cannes Film Festival, the film "Close Your Eyes" press conference was held, actors Manolo Solo, Ana Torrent and Jose Carona appeared . Visual China Map
The actors didn't talk much about the director's absence at the time, and given Iris's low-key personality that doesn't like to be seen in public, the outside world didn't speculate much at first. However, in the Spanish "Nation" published on May 24, an open letter from the director suddenly appeared, explaining his absence, in fact he wanted to protest the Cannes Film Festival-more precisely, A personal protest against the artistic director of the festival, Thierry Fumao.
Director Victor Ellis. Visual China Map
Victor Ellis, born in 1940, was a film journalist. In 1973, he released his debut feature film "The Ghost of the Hive", which shocked everyone at once and was hailed as the most promising young director in Europe. However, he, who is used to intensive cultivation, did not make his second work "South" until ten years later, and the film was also shortlisted for the main competition unit of the 36th Cannes Film Festival. Nine years later, his third work, Quince Sunshine, had the same opportunity and won the Jury Prize at Cannes. This time "Close Eyes" is his fourth feature film in more than half a century, but he failed to enter the main competition and was placed in the premiere section, which was announced earlier in the Cannes film list. In fact, it aroused doubts from the outside world.
The Cannes Premiere Unit, which was only established in 2021, was born somewhat helpless and forced. At that time, due to the epidemic, Cannes was postponed from May to July. The original film selection and viewing procedures were disrupted. Many films were accumulated in hand, but they did not want to reject or give up to other film festivals, so This unit came into being. Some masterpieces that have not been shortlisted for the main competition or films that do not know where to go can be included. The names of well-known directors such as Oliver Stone, Marco Bellocchio, and Hong Changxiu appeared in the premiere section of Cannes that year. In this year's Cannes premiere unit, besides Victor Ellis's "Close Eyes", Takeshi Kitano's six-year director's work "First" is also included, and some people also complained about it.
So, what are the specific reasons for excluding "Close Eyes" from the main competition? In this regard, we still cannot understand the whole story just by looking at the open letter of Victor Ellis. After all, Cannes has its own standards for film selection, and I am afraid only they know how to choose. The reason why the 83-year-old Ellis did not hesitate to tear up his face with Cannes this time was because of some false rumors in the market.
"On May 21st I read an article by journalist Gregorio Belinchon in El País entitled "Cannes does not need Spain for main competition", citing sources said to be from the festival , said that "Close Eyes" was not included in the main competition because the director 'did not officially finish the film until a few days ago'. But I would say that is not true."
According to the old director, he sent "Close Eyes" in Quicktime format to the Cannes film selection team as early as March 24. It is no different from the finished film, and this so-called working film version also complies with the film delivery specifications announced by the Cannes Film Festival. Then, before the end of March, he added the official digital copy of the film, which is the copy that was finally screened in the Debussy Hall on May 22, so there is no such thing as the media's claim that the film's actions were too much. Slow to say.
However, what really prompted Ellis to criticize is the attitude of Cannes art director Fu Mao towards people and things. According to him, while submitting the film, he also sent an email to Fu Mao, whom he had "knowledge for quite a long time", and hoped that the latter would give him a reply as soon as possible whether he would choose "Close Eyes". Because the Directors' Fortnight unit, which is held simultaneously but actually independent of the Cannes Film Festival, has already found him at this time, and strongly hopes to make "Close Eyes" the opening film of their unit. In addition, both the Locarno Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival have contacted him, hoping to send "Close Eyes" there.
Stills of "Close Your Eyes"
Indeed, although Victor Ellis has only made four feature films in 50 years of filming, the output is surprisingly low, but like the American director Terrence Malick, basically as long as he makes a shot, it is a masterpiece, so it is widely acclaimed. He is favored by fans all over the world, and the Locarno Film Festival awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award as early as 2014. Therefore, after a lapse of 31 years, he has released a new film, which is definitely a favorite of various film festivals, and the director naturally hopes that "Close Eyes" will be the same as the previous two works, and it will also be in the main competition at Cannes. unit premiere.
The problem, however, is that Cannes clearly doesn't see it that way. For unknown reasons, "Close Your Eyes" failed to enter the eyes of the Cannes film selection team, and Fu Mao became the "scumbag" in Victor Ellis's mind during those 20 days: how to contact No reply, no promise to you, no promise to break up, so that you always have hope in your heart, but you don't know what will happen in the end.
In the end, it wasn’t until April 13th when the main competition unit list was announced that Victor Ellis learned from the Internet that he had lost the selection. On the other side, the Director’s Fortnight unit, although he had done his best to reserve the spot for him until the last moment, But by this time it was obviously too late. Ellis could only allow "Close Eyes" to be included in the Cannes premiere unit, but he also wrote to Fumao on April 28 to inform him of his anger and his decision not to attend the screening of the film.
Facing the pressure of public opinion, on the evening of May 24, Cannes quickly issued a public statement, denying any tricks in the film selection process, and expressed surprise and confusion at the old director's statement. According to his explanation, they kept in touch with the Spanish producer of the film throughout the whole process, and notified the other party as soon as the result came out, and there was nothing wrong with it. Indeed, according to industry practice, the main contact person for a film festival when selecting a film is generally the producer, not the director himself.
As for the artistic director Fu Mao's habit of directly contacting directors, it is often based on his personal social relationship and does not conflict with Cannes' official procedures. Of course, on the issue of "Close Eyes", only he himself knows why Fu Mao "only reads and does not read back", and when repeatedly questioned by reporters in front of Cannes of the Spanish "Pais", he also refused to discuss this issue take a stand.
Stills of "Close Your Eyes"
"Close Your Eyes" tells the story of a movie star who mysteriously disappears during filming. Although he was alive and no one was dead or dead, the police still came to the conclusion that he had died in a shipwreck. After many years, all the mysteries surrounding his mysterious disappearance have been brought before the eyes of the world again because of the broadcast of a TV program.
After its premiere in Cannes, "Close Your Eyes" immediately received high praise from the media. Jordan Minzer, a film critic of "The Hollywood Reporter", even wrote at the beginning of his article: "One day in the future, Fumao may have to explain why such an elegant and powerful tribute to the film itself Will it be arranged by him in the Cannes premiere unit like a hodgepodge? Why didn’t such a perfect masterpiece fail to enter the Cannes main competition unit?”