The Tree of LifeThe Tree of Life
Festival Daily
20 lis 2011

Few films screening in the main competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival were as talked about as The Tree of Life. Terrence Malick's ambitious fifth feature is the culmination of over three decades of thought and inquiry into the nature of existence, the power of faith and our place in a world. It divided audiences, with some dismissing it as quasi-Christian nonsense or cinematic grandstanding, while its supporters see it as the work of a director unafraid to take on ambitious subjects. Whatever one feels about it, or any other films by him, there is no doubting the uniqueness of Malick's oeuvre – a body of work that stands apart from all others in American cinema.

20 lis 11

Jazz and cinema are the two great art forms of the twentieth century. Their styles and fashions have been marked by the century's events and, in turn, have helped shape it. But their relationship with each other has not always been an easy one. Jazz may have provided some of the most memorable scores for films, particularly the compositions of Duke Ellington (Anatomy of a Murder), Miles Davis (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud), Elmer Bernstein (The Man with the Golden Arm, Sweet Smell of Success and Some Came Running) and, more recently, Terence Blanchard (most of Spike Lee's films). However, as a subject it has not fared so well on the big screen.

18 lis 11

Billy Wilder was born in Sucha Beskidzka, now a part of Poland. But in 1906 it was a thriving hub within the great Austro-Hungarian empire. Of his nation of birth Wilder commented, 'The Austrians are brilliant people. They made the world believe that Hitler was a German and Beethoven an Austrian'. It is one of many off-screen bon mots in a career that saw Wilder's sharp tongue and savage wit employed for numerous films that have become Hollywood classics.

17 lis 11

US guerilla filmmaking is a phenomenon that fascinates European filmmakers and audiences. In a country that does not provide state funding for film, a grassroot movement of indie filmmakers, from time to time, manages to produce rough diamonds able to compete in big festivals with the slick European and Asian art-house films. The success stories of TARNATION, OLD JOY, PUTTY HILL and others really show that if the small US films are given a voice they can really make an impression on both critics and audiences outside USA. That's why it's key to allow the US indies to be seen by key buyers and programmers in Europe.

16 lis 11

A friend once compared his being asked to be the Best Man at his brother's wedding to having sex with the Queen of England - you're honoured but you just don't want to do it. The same could be said of being asked to pick the highlights of a film festival. There are always the great titles I have yet to see and would have included, then there are those films that I should have seen but haven't, and most embarrassingly, the films I don't list, only to end up sitting next to their director at a screening. So, it is with trepidation that I write this.

15 lis 11

The second edition of the American Film Festival opens with Dark Horse, the latest feature by acclaimed American director Todd Solondz. It also begins a retrospective of the filmmaker’s career, highlighting one of contemporary cinema’s great satirists, who has done more than most to challenge the conventions of the traditional family drama.

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