Member of the Caméra d’Or jury at Cannes : an exceptional experience

By Nathalie Durand, AFC

par Nathalie Durand Contre-Champ AFC n°344

[ English ] [ français ]

At 8:30 a.m., the lights go out and the film begins. This is the beginning of my day as a festivalgoer. It is the beginning of the day for a member of the Caméra d’Or jury. I am very honored and grateful to the AFC for allowing me to spend two weeks at Cannes. I tried to show myself from time to time at the AFC stand, but my schedule didn’t allow me many opportunities. Watching films was my sole occupation for ten days, then discussing, speaking, sharing my feelings about them with the other members of the jury.

The jury was composed of six people this year : Anaïs Demoustier, the president, Raphaël Personnaz, Sophie Frilley (for the Ficam), Nicolas Marcadé (for the critic’s union SFCC), Mikaël Buch (scene designer and director for the SRF) and myself (for the AFC). I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and tell them how much their company made this experience passionate and joyful for me !

Les membres du jury de la Caméra d'or - De g. à d. : Anaïs Demoustier, Mikaël Buch, Raphaël Personnaz, Nicolas Marcadé, Sophie Frilley et Nathalie Durand
Les membres du jury de la Caméra d’or
De g. à d. : Anaïs Demoustier, Mikaël Buch, Raphaël Personnaz, Nicolas Marcadé, Sophie Frilley et Nathalie Durand _

I go to the movies all year long and I regularly afford myself the pleasure of watching movies on the big screen. So ? What’s the difference ? How is it that at Cannes, during the Festival, the feeling is so much more pregnant ? Because truly, watching films all day long until late in the evening in full, attentive theaters plunges us into a true communion. The air is denser, the silence is more enveloping, the screen the center of all of our attention.
The task was arduous because we had to choose a single film out of 23 first films. 23 films that came from all over the globe, ten new female directors and 13 new male directors. Talents to discover, creations to savor, errors to forgive.
Quickly, as a group, we discovered the values that we were looking for in these first films, a specific gaze and a soul.

The six of us would watch the film together and discuss them immediately as we exited the screening. Then, three times during the festival, we conducted pre-deliberations. That helped the final deliberation on Saturday morning (the day of the closing ceremony) go pretty quickly. We agreed on awarding the Caméra d’Or to Pham Thien An for his film Inside a Yellow Cocoon Shell. You’ll say, another 3-hour-long film… but it is a singular work with a magnificient opening shot that helps us to gently slip into the voyage. The formal choices of this young filmmaker, age 33, are audacious and breathtaking. We confidently await the films yet to come.

Pham Thien An , Caméra d'or en mains, et Anaïs Demoustier
Pham Thien An , Caméra d’or en mains, et Anaïs Demoustier
Pham Thien An et sa Caméra d'or
Pham Thien An et sa Caméra d’or

The film How To Have Sex, by Molly Manning Walker, which was awarded the Un Certain Regard prize, long stayed in our heads. Ilya Povoltosky’s Russian film Blazh (Grace) particularly moved me with its long, choreographed takes (shot in Super 16 mm). I would also like to cite The Hounds by Kamal Lazraq, Banel & Adama, by Ramata-Tolaye Sy, which were both impressive (Amine Berrada at work for the cinematography !). And The Feeling that the Time for Doing Something Has Passed, by the American Joanna Arnow, who has created a totally zany, sincere and unsettling film. I’m excited to see her next steps.

As you’ve understood, it was an exceptional experience. At least as far as I am concerned, I experienced this Cannes bubble like an extraordinary journey with my fellow jurors.
It’s difficult to disregard our cultural differences in order to define our judgement on works that might seem insipid or violent to us.
In these first films, it was often a question of the condition of women, the threats they face every day. Generally, their search for a more serene life. Everywhere in the world, money and the means for survival seem to be a daily struggle. Without mentioning the violence of human interactions with one another…

18 countries, 18 cultures, 23 ways of speaking about it. The Cannes Film Festival is a wonderful travel agency. We passed through China, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Russia, Sudan, Jordan, Congo, Senegal, Morocco, Chile, Brazil, Algeria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, and France. No wonder I’m tired !

I can’t ignore the various controversies that emerged before and during the Festival. But I enjoyed this independent and courageous cinema and I think it’s more necessary than ever that we continue to celebrate it. And in that, the selection of films at the Fortnight was wonderful.

The delicateness of the team who took care of the Caméra d’Or jury must also be acknowledged : Stéphane Letellier and Olivier Gautron, assisted by Philippe Gautier. They were there every day to take care of everything. THANK YOU to them !

In the portfolio below, a few photos taken by Nathalie Durand that were used in our daily Cannes portfolios.