At Cannes, Rasoulof's scream of freedom and Minervini's best director in the “Un Certain Regard” section. Closing ceremony tonight


By John

Donna Vita Libertà, the slogan symbolizing the fight in Iran against the regime's oppression, resonated several times yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival. On the eve of tonight's closing ceremony with the awards ceremony, and while waiting to know the Palmares, at least one Moral Palme d'Oralso underlined by the 15 minutes of applause given to the premiere. The film wins «The seed of the sacred fig tree» by director Mohammad Rasoulofin the sights of the ayatollahs for years, sentenced to 8 years in Tehran for collusion against national security, fled his country towards Europe only a few days ago.

His very presence is an event that marks the 2024 Cannes festival, in addition to the beautiful film filmed clandestinely which tells the family drama of a persecutor who finds himself in rebellion at home, of his student daughters and his wife while the death of Mahsa Amini triggers protests by young people in the streets and the ferocious reaction of the moral police as the social videos have sadly made known in the world.

“I hope with all my heart that the oppressive apparatus of the regime ends,” he hoped Rasoulof who transformed the Cannes scene into an act against Iran, a stage for the women's movement, a hymn to freedom, the one that prevented, for example, its leading actors from leaving the country (on the Montée it waved the photos of Missagh Zareh and Soheila Golestani) and him from living the condition of exile promising himself to return sooner or later. «When I was crossing the border, I turned around, took one last look at my homeland and thought: I'll go back. I think that all Iranians who had to leave because of the totalitarian regime have a suitcase packed at home, in the hope that things will improve.”

If on the last day of the festival «The seed of the sacred fig tree» is the film of the day, closing the competition is the poetic and moving animated fable “The most precious commodity” (La plus précieuse des marchandises). His first animated film was directed by the Oscar-winning director of “The Artist”, Michel Hazanavicius, and it is a rare return to competition for the language of animation, 15 years after the award-winning “Waltz with Bashir” of Israeli Ari Folman. It evokes the Shoah and puts love for children at the centre, The Most Precious Goods, with the narrative voice of Jean Louis Trintignant who passed away in 2022, is the adaptation of the work of the same name by the writer Jean-Claude Grumberg, often an author for children , who experienced the trauma of Auschwitz where his father and grandfather died.

Today he will receive the honorary Palme d'Oryesterday the legend of American cinema gave a crowded lecture George Lucas. 80 years a trademark with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones sagas, but also with «American Graffiti», his favorite, with Lucas the public took a journey into other worlds but it was the anecdotes about his adventure companions that amuse. «It was me, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader, Steven Spielberg… with our ideas, above all one: we didn't want to make money but to make cinema. It was a magnificent era, there was a change between the old studios that had founded Hollywood and we were ready to take risks, the Easy Rider phenomenon gave us a boost”, said the man who was one of the protagonists of the so-called New Hollywood , the great wave of renewal of American cinema with filmmakers perfectly immersed in the political and social context of the late 60s and throughout the 70s. «My gift? I always say to young people and film students: perseverance. I was a stubborn boy”, says Lucas.

“Un Certain Regard” section: Minervini wins for best director with «The Damned»

«The Damned», Roberto Minervini's first feature film, wins the award for best director in the Un Certain Regard section, effectively the second competition of the festival. Known for his extraordinary quality as a documentary filmmaker, this time Minervini constructs an intense reflection on violence within a story of the American Civil War. The film is co-produced by Rai cinema and currently in theaters thanks to Lucky Red.

With the award for best director (albeit ex aequo with the elegant but crafty «On becoming a Guinea Fowl» by Rungano Nyoni) Roberto Minervini receives a more than deserved recognition and brings a bit of Italy to the podium of the Croisette. The jury of the second competition of the festival also awarded first prize to the remarkable “Black Dog” by Chinese director Guan Hu; the jury prize and the one for his interpretation in «The Story of Suleymane» by Boris Lojkine who made his film-truth about a Parisian rider. The other half of the award for her performance went to the Indian Anasuya Sengupta for the intense female love story «The Shameless». Finally, a special mention to «Norajh» by Tawfik Alzaidi and, to please the French, a Prix Jeunesse to «Vingt Dieux» by Louise Courvoisier. The choices of the jury chaired by Canadian director Xavier Dolan have been applauded for a long time and ultimately capture the values ​​of this selection dedicated to discoveries well.

«The award to Roberto Minervini in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival confirms the talent of an author who has shown a well-defined idea of ​​cinema over the years – comments Paolo Del Brocco, CEO of Rai Cinema – and enriches the path of a director now recognized internationally. If in 2015, again here in Cannes, Roberto Minervini had talked about the forgotten land of Louisiana, now with The Damned he turns his gaze towards a handful of invisible soldiers very far from the world. Despair and personal fears are reflected in those of a universal community of men, targeted by a conflict that looks to our contemporaneity. And if the film captured the Jury's favor, it is also because there is still a need to give a voice to those who have none and those who risk dying every day. Rai Cinema has always been alongside authors, supports them with trust, invests in their talent and often, as in the case of Minervini, is at their side from when they take their first steps. He participates with passion in those projects and stories that involve challenges and adventurous journeys and this film has been so right from the start. When producer Paolo Benzi of Okta Film presented the project to us we were convinced that it would take us far; Our congratulations go to him and Roberto Minervini and we share this success with them.”