Although not many of us can experience the spotlights, sunshine and starlets of Cannes Film Festival in person, a lot of good has come from it. Award-winning movies, recognition, appreciation and gaining popularity for International Film has meant a change in cinema since the festival began sixty nine years ago. Here are my favourite multi-national films (that also happen to be my favourites of all time!)
3. The Science of Sleep
"Randomness is very difficult to achieve."
Third on my list is undoubtedly The Science of Sleep starring Gael Garcia Bernal (enough said - he is adorable!) and written and directed by Michel Gondry. Its whole storyline, for me, defines what surrealism is all about; a movement which sought to release the creative potential of dreaming and to bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. It is innocent, dream-like and uplifting; I consider it the one film I can reach for when I'm feeling low.
The innocence makes you smile as well as the obvious comedic value and jokes - the last few minutes when he is sailing away with Stéphanie on the animated boat reminds me of one of my favourite childhood books Where the Wild Things Are.
Stéphane Miroux's character is most of us - he is a person who want's to escape from conformity, and the struggles of reality, to get what he wants in his personal life (Stéphanie in his case) but doesn't have the confidence to quite get there. Surrealism, I believe, can still allow the audience to relate with these kind of characters and see it is not all fantasy creatures, animated backdrops and bright colours as people may assume.
"So, my little Amélie, you don't have bones of glass. You can take life's knocks."
Amélie was one of the first french films I ever watched - it's comedy and weirdness is as timeless as ever. It teaches the importance of putting others first whilst not becoming lost in your own solitude, and disregarding your own life, which could be doing more damage than good. It is not quite a love story - it is more focused on reflecting on your own life, the pursuit of happiness and seeing what happens along the way.
Audrey Tautou is one of my heroes and I could not imagine anyone else for this role - the quirkiness, innocence and naivety of Amelie makes her ever the more and likeable as a character. She is always overthinking and unsure of her own abilities.
1. Cinema Paradiso
"Out of the fire of love come ashes. Even the greatest love eventually fizzles out."
*Cue an essay on how fantastic this film is*
Nostalgic, sentimental and enlightening - Cinema Paradiso does not need big names or a big budget - it is truly enchanting as it is. This is an evocative story about Salvatore, a Sicilian boy from a small village, developing a lifelong bond with projectionist and father figure, Alfredo, after his own father dies whilst fighting in the war. You watch him grow up from a loveable (but occasionally rogue) 5 year old to a successful filmmaker in Rome returning to celebrate Alfredo's life and bury him after many years away from the village in which he grew up.
The flashbacks show how far he has come and to the extent in which Alfredo shaped his life. As well as this, however, it shows the regret of being away for so long and not retaining the simple and wonderful childhood he had. The scene of Salvatore (Toto) organising tens of discarded kissing reels show his yearning for true love and his romantic personality. This foreshadows his first all-consuming romance, which influenced him to leave for the big city, and the lack of it once he gets there.
Set in post WW2 Italy, it shows the early days of cinema theatres and how it brought together a whole village of people even to watch the same movie showing after showing. Husbands meeting wives for the first time and people discovering lifelong friends - the social aspect that seems to have been somewhat lost in modern times.
This film will be a lifelong favourite of mine and I am yet to find a film, international or otherwise, that compares to the feeling this gives you once the credits end. It is thought (and tear) provoking as well as being comedic and making you smile. The language/subtitle setup makes it more beautiful and authentic. Despite not doing well figure-wise when initially released in Italy, it has achieved so much globally due to the fact it has the true makings of a classic.
I once heard subtitled films called 'moving picture books' but they are so much more than that. It is a fantastic genre that is somewhat underrated in everyday cinema; it is rare to see independent movies from around the world being shown in movie theatres. However, there are so many great films out there that I would love to include in this article (as well as shout them from the rooftops) and hope to discover many more in the future.
Are you a fan of these films? What is your favourite film of all time? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Cinema Paradiso and Science of Sleep excerpts above were previously written for my personal blog.