‘Cannes a Firenze’: Six Days of Cinematic Excellence in Florence

Everybody Knows starring Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem

Bringing a selection of highly-acclaimed films from this year’s contentious Cannes Festival to Florence, the 5th annual Cannes a Firenze will preview the work of some of the world’s most recognized directors, actors, and screenwriters  from June 12 – 17.

The 11 chosen films have been culled from a pool of the 21 contenders shown at Cannes 71 in mid-May. The original submissions numbered nearly 1,900, according to Isabelle Mallez, director of the Institut Français Firenze and French consul to Florence.

In emphasizing the importance of the movie-going experience Cannes and its open section Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (The Director’s Fortnight) aim to promote, Francesco Martinotti, artistic director of France Odeon referenced the rise in popularity of Netflix as a cinematic medium. The media giant’s public feud with Cannes about the legitimacy of their films for competition resulted in their abrupt decision to pull out of the French festival.

Cannes a Firenze will focus on the unequivocal beauty that can result from “looking up to a screen” rather than “down at a computer or a phone at home,” Mallez remarks. The festival will take place in two venues: the Institut Français Firenze, where events and screenings will be held from June 12 – 14 (piazza Ognissanti 2) and the Cinema La Compagnia (via Cavour 50/r), with screenings from June 15 – 17.

To open the program, there will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Director’s Fortnight. The festivities begin with a reading of “Le tourbillon de la vie,” by Giovanni Cocconi on June 12 at 6:30 pm, dedicated to directors François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. Afterwards, there will be a screening of Godard’s film Le livre d’image, the recipient of this year’s inaugural “Special Palme d’Or.” This honor recognizes filmmakers who have an impressive and acclaimed body of work, though have yet to win a Palme d’Or.

Godard, a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave movement, is known for pushing the boundaries of cinema. Famous for saying: “Photography is truth. The cinema is truth 24 times per second,” his newest film centers on this obsession with the image through a reflection on the capabilities and limits of language.

As expected, there is plenty of additional francophone fare offered at this year’s Cannes a Firenze. Amin, directed by Phillipe Faucon and Romain Gavra’s Le monde est à toi are screening at 6 pm on Saturday, June 16 and 9:30 pm on Sunday, June 17 respectively.

An especially strong group of Spanish-language films will play as well. On Tuesday, June 12 at 9:15 pm, Jaime Rosales’ film, Petra, featuring famous Spanish actress Marisa Paredes, will be screened. On Wednesday, June 13, at 7 pm the festival presents Pajaros de Verano, directed by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, the powerful story of a local family caught entangled in the dawn of drug trafficking in Colombia.

Also from Spain comes Asghar Faradhi’s thriller Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows), scheduled on Friday, June 15 at 10 pm. This thriller stars two silver-screen heavyweights, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, a real-life married couple with one Oscar apiece.

At the heart of this varied international lineup are the four films awarded by the Cannes Jury, presided over this year by Cate Blanchett.

The winner of Cannes 71’s Palme d’Or, Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters), directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, will be shown on Friday, June 15 at 8 pm. At the core of this film is a rag-tag, unique family—united not by blood, but a deeper bond. The story follows the impoverished but happy family as they take in a new member, and face the consequences of long-buried secrets.

Zimna Wojna (Cold War), directed by Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski, received the award for best direction. Pawlikowski skillfully tells the story of secret love during the Cold War in 1950’s Poland. Two showings will take place on Wednesday June 13 at 9:10 pm and on Saturday, June 16 at 9:30 pm.

Capharnaüm, directed by Nadine Labaki, a story of lost innocence in the suburbs of Beirut, won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes this May.  The movie is on the program on Friday, June 14 at 6 pm and Sunday, June 17 at 7:45 pm, both at the Cinema La Compagnia.

Best Screenplay winner Jafar Panahi’s Se Rokh (Trois Visages), tells the story of a famous Iranian actress’ cross-country journey in search for a girl, an aspiring actress herself, in need of help. The film can be viewed on Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 pm.

Prices range from €8 single-entrance (€7 reduced fee for special card-holders) to a €30 five-entrance ticket.  (tyler burton)