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My Cannes moment: Joseph Kosinski, Warwick Thornton, Christian Mungiu, Paul Laverty and James Marsh on their best festival experiences


Joseph Kosinsky
The Top gun: Maverick director at the epic gala – including a flypast by the French Air Force – in 2022. This year he returns as exec producer of BMW Films’ The rest with the all-electric BMW i7 and Uma Thurman and Pom Klementieff

The whole Cannes experience – the photographers on both sides of the carpet and everyone yelling at you and being there with our entire cast and for us to be together, especially after the pandemic, because the movie was made before – was just surreal .

It was my first time in Cannes and it will be something I will never forget. And with the flyover, remember there were planes flying over my head about two years ago, so that wasn’t the weird thing. Flying planes was something I was very used to, but it was really cool to see the French Air Force and the French colours.

And (the screening) was very special because it started with the tribute to Tom and then he got the Palme, and then we watched the movie and I sat next to him the whole time. So to watch his career, sitting next to him, was pretty surreal, and then to watch the movie and have him excitedly slap my arm throughout the whole thing… it’s something I never, ever will forget.

It was a once in a lifetime experience. So yes, it will be fun to experience it in a different way this year.

Cristian Mungiu
The Romanian filmmaker about winning the Palme d’Or in 2007 for 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

It was my first time competing so I was told I could go on the first day or on the last day. We decided to go for day one, thinking we’d crush them hard in the beginning and make an impact, even if everyone forgot about the movie two days later. But after two days, the movie was still being talked about. I was asked to stay another day and another day. On the street, at parties, I heard people talking about the film. I gave interview after interview. We started hoping that we would win something.

Then the awards came and the festival asked me to stay. During the ceremony it started to look like we were going to win the Palme d’Or. I was so stressed! The stakes were so high that I got a terrible headache. When they said my name, I was completely lost. I went on stage, but I missed the whole moment – just trying to concentrate, say something intelligent, and not act like a monkey.

Looking back, it feels like it wasn’t an accident. There’s something about that movie. Even today it is remembered as very fresh, that it changed perspective a bit at the time. That’s the hardest thing about cinema. You can make a good movie, but most importantly, the more experienced you become, the more you lose the innocence and freshness you had in the beginning. I don’t know if you can ever learn to touch that again. It’s just as much about a period in your life as anything else.

I’m glad the movie held up. You can read many books about communism, but the feeling that you are going through it, the feeling that everyone is watching you – that is more interesting for young people to experience than just to read about.

Paul Laverty
Ken Loach’s longtime writer, at the festival for the 11th time this year The old oaklooks back on his trip to Cannes in 2012

We were doing there The share of the angels (in 2012), and we had this great little guy with us, Gary Maitland, who’s been in a few of our movies – he’s also been in Sweet Sixteen.

But his real job is in the Glasgow Cleansing Department, (better known as) the Clenny. He’s a garbage man. There’s even a great photo of him doing the bins with a bus passing behind him and it has a big ad for it The share of the angels am working on it.

But we were in Cannes one night and he went back to work the next day. And we looked out over the water, he picks up a glass of champagne, pulls it up and says, “From Cannes to the Clenny.” And he hits it back.

From Cannes to the Clenny! That’s the best quote I’ve ever heard.

Warwick Thorton
The native Australian director is back at Cannes this year with The new boyabout winning the Caméra d’Or 2009 for Samson & Delilah

When I was a director for the first time at Cannes, they literally gathered us newcomers and put us in a room and they really pushed us through how important this opportunity was.

Because you can compete 20 times for the Palme d’Or, but you only get one chance for the Caméra d’Or with your first film. So it really added more pressure to the pressure we already felt to be in Cannes with our first work, but it also made everything all the more exciting. And it created a good rapport between all of us new drivers because we were all in this together.

Comes back with The new boy in Un Certain Regard this time I don’t have that crazy pressure anymore. I can just be part of the conversation and I’m there to play. Now it’s like, “Hi everyone, look at this wonderful thing we’ve made.”

James Marsh
The director of The theory of everything and an Oscar winner Man on wire reflects on the emotional rollercoaster ride that was his first trip to the festival (a journey that would eventually lead to his Academy Award).

I was here in 2005 with The kingin Un Certain Regard – a very low budget American film starring Gael Garcia Bernal.

You get the call from Cannes and it’s like wow, this wasn’t even in your most extreme fantasy – they’re going to be showing your movie in the official part of the festival. So you’re in Cannes, you’re at the premiere of your movie and it’s apparently a huge success. I think most of them are — there’s kind of a goodwill factor. You get a standing ovation. So it all adds up and you think this is the best night of my life. I’m a filmmaker now.

And the next morning I had to go somewhere to do press. And I approached the publicist who was shoving these magazines after her. She looked really nervous. So I read the reviews, and they are the worst reviews you can write – just terrible, terrible, bad. I literally go from my biggest fantasy coming true to destruction… from the pinnacle of accomplishment to the nadir of despair and self-loathing… in a matter of hours.

I can’t make feature films. I can not do anything. So I’m forced to go back to documentaries and make Man on wire. So there was a happy ending.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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