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Visiting France

The Source of the Palme d’Or? Anatolia not even close

media The Source, by Radu Mihaileanu Julian Torrès/Elzévir Films/Oï Oï Oï Prod/Festival Cannes 2011

It’s the last day of the Cannes Film Festival before the Palmes awards ceremony, and there’s only one thing for sure—there’s no obvious winner in the official selection. The last two films shown at Cannes include one to watch and a total snoozer.

The Source, by Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu takes place in a little village which the opening titles say is the “Middle East or North Africa”.

The women of this mountain village, without electricity or running water, work their butts off, fetching water while the men sit around and drink tea in the shade.

In the opening scene, one pregnant woman loses her baby after falling while carrying two pails of water. That prompts Leila, a young married woman to call on the women in the village to go on a sex-strike until a well is installed in town.

Cannes Film Festival 2011

But this ain’t your typical Lysistrata story. Leila must fight against apathy, fear and tradition to convince the town and the imam that this will benefit everyone.

The Source is beautifully shot with a convincing performance by Leila Bekhti as Leila. It garnered a lot of applause and some bravos at the end. I’ll go out on a limb and say if this doesn’t win the Palme d’Or, it’ll win the Jury prize.

At the other end of the spectrum is the only Turkish selection, Once A Upon A Time In Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Too bad this film didn’t remain a fairytale in the director’s head. The longest movie in the Official Selection, coming in at two hours and 37 minutes, it feels like 10 hours.

The story takes place at night, on a road on the outskirts of a provincial Turkish town. The police, a prosecutor and a doctor have brought two murder suspects to identify where they buried a body. After multiple location searches and tons of small talk, the body is found – one and a half hours into the film.

Half way through the first part of the movie someone in the audience screamed, “fatigué” (tired), eliciting laughs. Another audience member clapped when the police finally found the body, which made everyone laugh again.

Cannes blog 2011

It didn’t help that the men ogle a young girl and comment on her beauty as she serves them tea during a rest stop. She looks about 13-years-old. Ewww!

Once the body is found, the prosecutor, who believes he looks like Clark Gable, dictates a police report at the scene, which another man types. And again, he continues his report at the morgue. There’s no new information here.

I’m not sure what the point of this movie is. A number of people walked out during the screening. Probably after they gave up after trying to find the plot too.

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