Fandor Fortnight at Cannes continues with a special showcase of films that all reached the main competition lineup of the world’s most prestigious film festival. Each one in their own way made history. Funny Games was director Michael Haneke’s first of many appearances at Cannes, and its shocking proceedings instantly put him on the map. Hyenas marked the triumphant return of African master Djibril Diop Mambety after a 20 year hiatus. Amos Gitai’s Kadosh was the first Israeli film to compete at Cannes in a quarter-century, while Miklos Jansco’s The Red and the White didn’t even get to properly compete in 1968, the only instance that the Cannes Film Festival was shut down (as vividly documented in Two in the Wave). The audiences at Cannes couldn’t see it – but now you can!
dir. Michael Haneke
1997 Cannes Film Festival Competition Entry
A succession of sadistic games between victims and perpetrators (and between auteur and spectator) FUNNY GAMES opens with an aerial shot of an SUV maneuvering through an idyllic landscape. Inside the vehicle, Anna (Susanne Lothar, THE PIANO TEACHER), Georg (Ulrich Mühe, THE LIVES OF OTHERS) and their son Georgie play a guessing game en route to their lakeside vacation home. But a soporific rural escape rapidly turns into a home-invasion nightmare as Paul (Arno Frisch, BENNY’S VIDEO) and Peter (Frank Giering) break into their house, claiming to be neighbors’ relatives. Young and articulate, the serial-killer duo of Peter and Paul inexplicably imprison this upper class Austrian family, irrationally switching from physical assaults to moments of emotional harassment and vicious psychological tortures.
dir. Djibril Diop Mambety
1992 Cannes Film Festival Competition Entry
Twenty years after his astonishing first film, TOUKI BOUKI, Djibril Diop Mambety brings us a second feature, HYENAS, as provocative as his first. He adapts a timeless parable of human greed into a biting satire of today’s Africa, betraying the hopes of independence for the false promises of Western materialism. Mambety has even been called the avatar of a new mood sweeping the continent, “Afro-pessimism.”
dir. Amos Gitai
1999 Cannes Film Festival Competition Entry
Set in the Mea Sherim quarter of Jerusalem, an enclave of the ultra-Orthodox, KADOSH explores a hermetic world almost never seen on the screen. Here, for ten years, the pious Rivka (Yael Abecassis) has devoted herself to her husband Meir (Yoram Hattab), but their marriage remains childless. Presumed barren, she is rejected by her community, which prizes children above all else. The story that follows relates the harrowing fate of Rivka, and also her beloved sister Malka (Meital Barda), in love with a young man who has fled the community to lead a secular life.
The Red and the White
dir. Miklos Jancso
1968 Cannes Film Festival Competition Entry
Banned for many years in the U.S.S.R., Hungarian director Miklos Jansco’s masterful THE RED AND THE WHITE is a haunting, powerful film about the absurdity and evil of war. Set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918, the story details the murderous entanglements between Russia’s Red soldiers and the counter-revolutionary Whites in the hills along the Volga. The epic conflict moves with skillful speed from a deserted monastery to a riverbank hospital to a final, unforgettable hillside massacre. The director of such Hungarian cinema classics as SILENCE AND CRY (1968), MY WAY HOME (1964) and THE ROUNDUP (1967), Jancso here creates what many believe to be his finest work. THE RED AND THE WHITE is a moving visual feast where every inch of the Cinemascope frame is used to magnificent effect. With his brilliant use of exceptionally long takes, vast and unchanging landscapes and Tamas Somlo’s hypnotic black and white photography, Jancso gives the film the quality of a surreal nightmare. In the director’s uncompromising world, people lose all sense of identity and become hopeless pawns in the ultimate game of chance.