Everything is relative.
Last year there were more films from recognised big names in the official selection. This year, it’s more of a mixture, ranging from Cannes regulars whose work has already been rewarded, to the Ukrainian Sergei Loznitsa who in competition with his first feature film, My Joy, which definitely packs a punch.
There are nineteen films in competition, more than half of which are from either Europe or Asia, though geographical origin is not the main criteria for the prizes.
The films that being talked about as potential prize-winners are Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Poetry by Korean Lee Chang-dong, Loznitsa’s film, and Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s Biutiful, whose leading male role played by Javier Bardem has received a lot of unofficial praise.
Many of the films are bleak, expressing human isolation, misunderstanding or selfishness. Many touch on corruption, conflict or petty ambition.
But while there’s more than a fair dose of suffering - or causing suffering - some films, by virtue of cinematographic wizardry or artistic sensitivity, raise the audience’s spirits.
The nine-member jury, chaired by US filmmaker, Tim Burton, is as varied as the films, at least in age and background. There is music composer Alexandre Desplat, Italian Turin Cinema Institute director Barbera, English actress Kate Beckinsale, Indian director Shekar Kapur and US actor, Benicio Del Toro.