Cannes 2014: Documentary Overview

cannes logoThe grande dame of film festivals, Cannes, kicks off its 67th edition tomorrow, Wednesday, May 14, while its official side events, the independently organized Directors’ Fortnight and International Critics’ Week, begin Thursday. Altogether, more than 100 features screen, but the non-fiction offerings remain frustratingly slim – this year, thirteen vs 2013’s twelve – once again confirming the Croisette’s view of documentary as an afterthought at best. The following presents a rundown of each film:

red armyThe bulk of this year’s docs appear in the Official Selection. Un Certain Regard’s single nonfiction presentation is Wim Wenders and Julian Ribeiro Salgado’s THE SALT OF THE EARTH, a portrait of Salgado’s father, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião. Seven additional doc projects appear in Special Screenings: the omnibus BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO, on WWI; Laurent Becue-Renard’s OF MEN AND WAR, exploring PTSD in American soldiers back from war; Sergei Loznitsa’s MAÏDAN, about the 2013 protests against Ukrainian president Yanukovych; Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan’s SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT, a personal exploration of the Syrian revolution, mediated by technology; Gabe Polsky’s RED ARMY (pictured), a look back at Cold War Russian hockey culture; Stéphanie Valloatto’s CARTOONISTS – FOOT SOLDIERS OF DEMOCRACY, a wide-ranging look at the political and societal influence of cartoonists around the world; and Yves Jeuland’s LES GENS DU MONDE, a celebration of French newspaper Le Monde upon its 70th anniversary.

yukongOutside of the Official Selection, the festival has traditionally featured most of its documentary programming in Cannes Classics, typically the home of restored films as well as new documentaries about cinema. In the former category are Kon Ichikawa’s 1965 TOKYO OLYMPIAD, a chronicle of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics; and Marceline Loridan and Joris Ivens’ 1976 HOW YUKONG MOVED THE MOUNTAINS (pictured), about the last days of China’s Cultural Revolution; while the latter are Steve James’ portrait of the late Roger Ebert, LIFE ITSELF; and Hilla Medalia’s profile of the Israeli cousin producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, THE GO-GO BOYS: THE INSIDE STORY OF CANNON FILMS.

national galleryDisappointingly, there is only one doc between International Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight – appearing in the latter, the newest film from nonfiction auteur Frederick Wiseman, NATIONAL GALLERY, an immersive exploration of London’s renowned cultural institution.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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