This year’s Un Certain Regard jury at Cannes, headed up by Pablo Trapero (other members: Maria Bonnevie, Géradline Pailhas, Peter Becker and Moussa Touré), have awarded the Prix Un Certain Regard to Kornél Mundruczó’s White God. As it happens, Luke and Body, “two golden-furred, real-life brothers” who share the role of Hagen in White God, have won the Palm Dog.
At any rate, the Jury Prize goes to Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure.
A Special Jury Prize goes to Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado for Salt of the Earth.
Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis’s Party Girl wins an award for best ensemble cast.
The Salt of the Earth is “a gentle, beguiling biography of legendary Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, whose amazing persistence and facility for empathising with his subjects has produced brilliant work for more than four decades,” writes Andrew Pulver in the Guardian. Wenders has directed “together with Salgado’s son Juliano, himself a filmmaker,” and “Salgado Jr. certainly makes a key contribution: not only in supplying footage of trips on which he accompanied his father before this documentary was mooted, but also getting on film some intimate scenes of the now-elderly Salgado pottering around his old family farm in Brazil, reflecting on his relationship with his own father.”
Salgado Sr. is “known for human rights and environmental work exclusively in black-and-white and collected in books including Africa, Exodus and Sahel: The End of the Road,” notes Barbara Scharres at RogerEbert.com. “The film examines Salgado’s career through the themes and inside stories behind his books. The filmmakers follow Salgado on current assignments and accompany him in revisiting sites of past work.” The result is “visually arresting. For instance, the filmmakers roll and crawl after Salgado on a rocky shore as he creeps up on a group of mammoth walruses attacking each other with foot-long tusks.”
In the Hollywood Reporter, Boyd van Hoeij finds that “The Salt of the Earth doesn’t reveal so much as gracefully confirm that the empathy and humanism that make Salgado’s photojournalistic work so special are also a part of the artist’s outlook on life. Salgado’s sharp observations and enviable joie de vivre—despite or perhaps exactly because he’s been confronted with decades of bottom-of-the-barrel humanity for his work—reveal him to be both a great artist and a man of integrity, even as one wonders what toll this has taken on his family.”
“Wenders hit upon an exceptionally clever, cinematic way of filming Sebastiao discussing his work, by projecting the master’s photographs onto a semi-transparent mirror that allows audiences to see both image and man,” notes Jay Weissberg in Variety. “In this way, Wenders teases out memories of various monumental projects, turning normally banal talking-head visuals into a more interactive device.”
“It’s been ages since Wenders made a watchable narrative film, but his alternate career in docs is going swimmingly,” writes Mike D’Angelo at the Dissolve.
“Ever since his indelible first appearance at age 16 in Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout, David Gulpilil to a large extent has been the defining face onscreen of the Indigenous Australian,” writes David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. “Now 60, the Aboriginal actor and traditional dancer teams for the third time with director Rolf de Heer—following The Tracker and Ten Canoes—on Charlie’s Country, inarguably the most personal project of their collaboration. Equal parts ethnographic and poetic, this eloquent drama’s stirring soulfulness is laced with the sorrow of cultural dislocation but also with lovely ripples of humor and even joy.”
In Variety, Eddie Cockrell notes that “the script was developed during sessions when the actor would throw out ideas and the director would structure the results. It is to both men’s credit that amid the suffering, there’s a ray of hope for Charlie in the end…. Gulpilil has developed into an actor capable of mischievousness and gravitas, often within the same shot. His well-publicized bouts with alcoholism and the law haven’t significantly tarnished his reputation, and represent the embodiment of the societal tensions addressed in the film.”
Update, 5/24: “For all the justly-leveled criticisms of Australia’s marginalization and humiliation of the Aborigines,” writes John Bleasdale at CineVue, “Charlie’s Country is far more than a j’accuse; it’s a celebration of a man’s struggle for dignity and a place in a world that’s rapidly moving on.”