A farce about the rivalry between an angry father and a gregarious son, both of whom are Talmud scholars, but which confronts serious issues, has won at the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival for the Best Screenplay at the festival. Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar received an award for “FOOTNOTE.” Cedar, 42, received a Silver Bear and an Oscar nomination for his 2007 film “Beaufort” about the Israeli army’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon. He first gained fame in 2001 with “Time of Favor,” a drama about religious zealots who plan to detonate an explosive device on the Temple Mount. Unfortunately, Cedar was not at Cannes tonight to receive the award and statue in person. Click here for the trailer
FOOTNOTE stars Lior Ashkenazi and Shlomo Bar Aba, as well as Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak, Daniel Markovich, and Micah Lewesohn. (Think “Raging Bull” meets “My Dinner with Andre” meets “Talmud class.”)
It is set in Hebrew University’s Talmud department, known for its epic rivalries between faculty members. Cedar’s father, Haim Cedar, a scientist, taught at Hebrew University for decades.
Shlomo Bar Aba, normally seen in comic roles, plays Eliezer Shkolnik, a dour philologist who seems as if he has chronic irritable bowel syndrome. His life’s focus is to painstakingly piece together scraps and portions of scrolls in search for authenticity. His nemesis is Professor Grossman (Micah Lewesohn). As the film opens, Uriel, his son, has been nominated to a prestigious academy. Uriel is on the path to popular stardom. He is not patient and is a magnet for infectious affection. He goes for the sound bite, the guess, and the easy route to celebrity. Looming in the background are proceedings for the next Israel Prize.
While the film focuses on the father-son rivalry, the underlying theme is that each person, even misanthropes, desire recognition, even if it requires a person to shamefully make, what they think are, compromises to their integrity. Plus, doing good does not shield on from punishment or despair. FOOTNOTE, also known as “HEARAT SHULAYIM,” was acquired by Sony Classics.
The Palme D’Or was presented to “THE TREE OF LIFE,” directed by Terrence Malick. The award for Best Director was given to Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn for his high-octane film noir “DRIVE,” which star Ryan Gosling as a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway car driver. The award for Best Actor was presented to Jean Dujardin for his role as a silent movie star struggling to deal with the transition to the talkies in “THE ARTIST.” Kirsten Dunst received the Best Actress award for MELANCHOLIA.
THE TREE OF LIFE stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. The story traces the life of Jack, an eleven year old boy, who must choose, or absorb, the lessons of his loving and merciful mother and his more “realistic” father, who feels each person must put their own interests first. In adulthood, Jack is a lost soul, and must evolve and reconcile selfishness with unselfishness.
Cannes awarded its Ecumenical Jury prize to Paolo Sorrentino’s “THIS MUST BE THE PLACE.” The film, which stars Sean Penn, David Byrne, and Frances McDormand, is a story about an aging rock star named Cheyenne (Penn) who is living in Dublin. His wife is a firefighter in Dublin. He begins a road trip, or odyssey and travelogue, across America: from New York to the world’s largest pistachio nut farm in the Southwest to an isolated trailer in a vista of snow.
SPOILER ALERT: Cheyenne is searching for his Jewish roots (his parents are observant Jews), as well as his father’s Nazi tormentor. His estranged father is dying in America, so he returns to visit the family for reconciliation. But he is too late. He learns how his father was humiliated by SS Officer Aloise Lange, and therefore, with the help of a Nazi Hunter (played by Judd Hirsch), he will find and confront the Nazi who tormented his father in Auschwitz. But Cheyenne is depressed. He reminds the viewer of a fifty year old Goth-like Edward Scissorhands, or The Cure’s Robert Smith, with a waifish, flat, monotone voice. Maybe the quest will help him break out of his melancholy, maybe there will be renewal, redemption, reawakening and reconciliation; maybe it is a metaphor for America. Or maybe revenge is the best choice. The title is taken from a song by the TALKING HEADS. Sadly, the ending theme is bullshit drivel, but you can decide for yourself.