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In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, plus the world premiere of Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” and Orson Welles’ finally complete last film “The Other Side of the Wind.”
From there, the cream of the crop continued to Telluride (the elite Colorado-based fest where Oscar dreams are made) and then Toronto, the massive North American “festival of festivals,” which added even more anticipated world premieres from the likes of Barry Jenkins, Steve McQueen, Sebastián Lelio and Michael Moore. Technically, that made Toronto more impressive than Venice (despite that a few of the latter’s divisive titles, including Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” didn’t come to Canada).
France - Cannes - Film - Festival - Topper
Meanwhile, somewhere in France, Cannes Film Festival topper Thierry Frémaux must have been asking himself, “What happened?” By all reports, he had wanted many of these films to premiere in Cannes, which typically gets first dibs at the best of world cinema but instead was forced to present a lineup of lesser-known directors this year. There is no single answer for this shift from the French Riviera to the fall festivals; rather, it was a perfect storm of elements at work.
First, there was the Netflix factor: After raising a stink in 2017 over the streaming giant landing two films in competition — “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” — the French industry put its foot down and pressured Frémaux to bar the company’s titles from the festival altogether, which meant losing out on Cuarón’s “Roma” and Greengrass’ “22 July,” and further took...
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