By Utpal Borpujari in Cannes
The weather here at this time of the year is extremlely pleasant, with the sun and the breeze from the Mediterranean Sea making beach goers come out in droves.
But the mood here is somewhat sombre, even though the sea-side city’s most famous event, the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, begins tomorrow.
The reason – the ongoing economic recession as well as the global scare created by the Swine Flu outbreak.
Those in the know of the things here are guesstimating that the business at the Marche du Film (the Market Section), the biggest such market anywhere in the world, might get slack this year because of this.
One sure worry for the swish set is the talk that the high-end parties thrown in private villas and yachts are going to be far less this time for the same reason.
As around 30,000 delegates, including approximately 4,000 media personnel pour in here from all corners of the globe to cover the world’s biggest and arguably the most-prestigious film festival, the first thing they notice at the Nice airport is a warning note pasted everywhere.
It says, among other things, to be away from public places and not to mingle too much with strangers, apart from the advice to wash hands frequently and consult the physician at the slightest trace of a cold.
But Cannes is all about meetings to buy and sell films, high-profile film viewings, crowded press conferences, and, of course, Champagne-flowing parties.
All of these are occasions where crowds in great numbers will gather and interact. But then, they will be overpowered by the magic of cinema, and not the talk of recession and Swine Flu.
More so, because the Competition section, the showpiece of the festival, this time has some of the biggest names of contemporary world cinema clashing.
Among them are Pedro Almodovar (Spain), Jacques Audiard (France), Jane Campion (New Zealand), Michael Haneke (Austria), Ang Lee (Taiwan/USA), Ken Loach (UK), Quentin Tarantino (USA) and Lars Von Trier (Denmark).
Francis Ford Coppola, another Hollywood giant, will, however, show his latest film “Tetro” in the prestigious sidebar Directors’ Fortnight after he refused to screen it in the official Out Of Competition section after it could not get qualified for the Competition.
India, unfortunately, for one more year, is absent from all the official as well as highly-prestigious unofficial segments Directors’ Fortnight and Critics Week.
Its only presence is the Marche du Film, where primarily Bollywood companies are going to hog much of the space. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s India Pavilion, set up by industry body ASSOCHAM, will be inaugurated on May 14.