Beauty and the Beasts

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2000
Dr. Ted Baehr takes a look at the Cannes Film Festival, from a Christian point of view.


The Cannes Film Festival is known for its carefully manicured image of stars, starlets, parties, beaches, and conspicuous consumption. The image, however, is only part of the truth–a significant part which serves the major purpose of the festival.

Immediately following the most important television festival, Cannes is first of all a business meeting where thousands of movie producers, distributors, financiers, entertain­ment folk, press, and wannabes gather to buy and sell their wares.

Independent producers invest all the money that they can beg, borrow and steal to rent a yacht, a suite or a booth to post their poster and hope that distributors from around the world will buy their home-made film. Lloyd Kaufman of Trauma Films has made a career of posting posters for movies that don’t exist, selling them in territories around the world and thereby financing his low-budget B-movies.

Big Hollywood companies come to find the next PULP FICTION and to promote their latest movies through the hyped-up press attending the festival. In this regard, Bob and Harvey Weinstein of Miramax have made billions from acquiring movies that made big money at the American box office.

So, while the starlets prance, and the wannabes pose on their cell phones, Cannes is the place where movies are bought and sold, fortunes are made, careers are started, and hope springs eternal.

At the center of this marketplace is The Competition for the Palme d’Or. Everyone wants their movie in The Competition, or, at least, in one of the other, lesser competitions so that they can use the prestige of the prize to promote their latest masterpiece. Reporters and reviewers flock to the Competition to review movies that will be released months later and to interview the creative talent behind these movies. The hype at Cannes is so strong that wannabes fought with guards to get in to see screenings of movies that they would soon be able to see for a few dollars at their local movie theater.

This year the Danish Dogme (their spelling) group was prominently featured with Lars von Trier’s Palme d’Or winning movie, Dancer in the Dartk. The Dogme group has re­invented movies according to their artistic and financial limitations in their revolt against Hollywood movies. Politically correct revolutionaries, the Dogme group requires that:

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
  3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place.)
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure, the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc., must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

Of course, anyone with some wit and wisdom can see that this movement is simply a way to rationalize cheap productions and denigrate Hollywood movies. The leaders of the Dogme have already declared that they cannot live by the standards they invented, but they still use those standards, like practiced Cultural Marxists to bludgeon the rest of the world’s filmmakers. Regrettably, Lars’ latest movie drew some “boos” from the audience, revealing that the masses are starting to see the truth about the emperor’s new clothes.

Although the politically correct movie community had to pay homage to the failed politi­cal philosophy of socialism, capitalist greed ran the festival. In other film festivals and marketplaces around the world, promotional gifts and premiums prevail. At Cannes, Coca Cola appeared to be the only booth giving away anything (Coca Cola products). Everything else was for sale or accessible only by private invitation. The American pavilion charged for stale food. Kodak had guards keeping away everyone (including reporters) who didn’t use Kodak film.

Kodak’s defensive tactic may have some merit, since a significant section of the festival promotes digital movies and Internet distribution. Of course, the ascendancy of digital has been promoted for years by Sony and others who would love to depose Kodak, but this year the possibility of digital distribution became more feasible due to a myriad of techno­logical breakthroughs and the prominence of the Internet. The major movie studios were even being urged to remove clauses in their contracts which prohibited Internet distribution, clauses they only recently wrote into every new contract to protect their profitable products from Internet pirates.

The festival centers around the Palais du Festival, an immense structure where screen­ings and press conferences occur and where distributors and production companies try to buy a little space to erect their booths and sell their wares.

Behind the Palais is the Riviera, another large building crowded with exhibitors buying and selling movies. On the west side of the Palais are approximately 100 oversized yachts with banners proclaiming the names of the companies who leased the yachts to wine and dine their clients, companies such as major European studios, production companies and even start-up Internet distributors.

On the other side of the Palais are the international and corporate tents lining the beach and offering deals and amenities to would be clients. I attended a private party for Montreal animation studios. The place was filled with reporters and others gorging themselves on caviar. The Montreal studios must have thought that MOVIEGUIDE® was a likely ally since animation focuses on children and families.

Of course, outside of this official area, the whole town of Cannes becomes a market­place with banners hung from the windows of many of the beach front hotels promoting the products of those who occupied the suites. In fact, many beach front hotels were entirely taken over by major companies. Thus, for instance, one hotel was covered with marketing banners for upcoming Universal Pictures products such as the sequel to The Nutty Professor.

I scrupulously avoided the parties at night, where the sharks were feeding en masse. One acquaintance told me that Ivona Trump threw a wicked party on her yacht, complete with the wealthiest men in the world and with the wife and the son of the new Russian Premiere Putin. My acquaintance told me that Putin’s wife and son were dripping with jewels (and noted that it was obscene) and that they had been living in Italy for one year, but were now in Monaco. Why were Putin’s family in Monaco? Perhaps to channel funds from Russia into Swiss bank accounts? Who knows.

So, what is Cannes? Why is it the most prestigious film festival intending to draw buyers and sellers to the most successful movie marketplace where hype, sex, money, and power flow freely, and the entertainment industry makes its big and small deals. Covered with nothing but makeup, it presents a politically correct socialist pose which, hypocritically, demands money from everyone who stops to stare or do business. It is a celebration of power and vanity, the two things which the entertainment industry, and its sycophants in the news media, seem to value most of all.

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” – Psalm 1:6

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