Published: 18th May 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Why is it India's moment in the spotlight at the Cannes Film Festival this year?
India has been chosen as the first-ever Country of Honour at Cannes 2022. Deepika Padukone is a jury member of the festival. And what more? Anurag Thakur is inaugurating an Indian Pavilion there
Entertainment, glamour, a red carpet, and of course, the jaw-dropping exquisite looks — all at one place. Yes, we are talking about Cannes! Are you excited? And there is a good reason to be.
With the festivities beginning on Tuesday, May 17, this year the international film festival holds special importance for India. If you don't know already, India has been designated as the Country of Honour for Cannes 2022. And that's why so many Indians will be seen sashaying on the red carpet this year, even the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), Anurag Thakur.
AR Rahman, Pooja Hegde, Ricky Kej, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kamal Haasan, Shekhar Kapur and Prasoon Joshi are some of the popular names who will be seen at Cannes.
Excited to know more? We have you covered.
What does it mean to be a 'Country of Honour'?
This is the first time that an official Country of Honour is being chosen for the Cannes Film Market (Marché du Film), the business counterpart of the festival. It has been stated that this new tradition will continue annually for different nations in future.
This year, since India has been crowned with this honour, the theme for the Cannes Pavilion is ‘India the Content Hub of the World’. Indian cinema will be showcased with all its linguistic, cultural and regional diversities. The five films to be screened at the festival have been chosen by the I&B Ministry of India, and are not official selections of the Cannes Board. The Indian Pavilion will be inaugurated on Wednesday, May 18, and Union Minister Anurag Thakur, along with other dignitaries, is expected to be present at the launch. PM Narendra Modi will deliver a video message at the event.
R Madhavan’s Rocketry The Nambi Effect, Godavari of Nikhil Mahajan (Marathi), Achal Mishra’s film Dhuin (Maithili), Hindi film Alpha Beta Gamma of Shankar Shrikumar, Biswajeet Bora’s Boomba Ride (Assamese), and Malayalam film Niraye Thathakalulla Maram are going to be pitched at Cannes. Satyajit Ray’s 1970 film Pratidwandi will also be shown in an exclusive screening.
Why was India chosen as the Country of Honour? Did its stance on the Russia-Ukraine war not impede this?
The selection of India as the Country of Honour is slightly diplomatic. It comes at a time when India and France are looking to bolster their ties. PM Modi’s recent visit to Paris and meeting with President Macron are also significant, while France and India are also celebrating 75 years of their diplomatic ties. The fact that the 75th year of the Cannes Film Festival coincides with the 75th year of Indian independence is also worth noting.
The General Delegate of the Festival, Thierry Fremaux, was asked why India was being welcomed at the event despite its stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, at a recent press conference at Cannes. "We didn’t keep a list of the films or countries which supported or didn’t vote at the UN. We have a different position from that of France or the European Commission. One might consider that you should sanction countries that support Russia – well no, we haven’t gone that far," Fremaux stated in his reply, as reported by Flimfare.com.
The Cannes Board had already made it clear earlier that it would boycott movies, directors and journalists connected to Russia. However, it had also explained that this was not a “blanket ban” and only applied to those who supported Russia’s actions.
Our own Deepika Padukone is on the jury! How is the Cannes jury selected?
The Cannes Film Festival's Board of Directors appoints the juries. The jury holds the sole responsibility for choosing which films will receive an award. Jurors are chosen from a wide range of international artists, based on their body of work and respect from their peers. The appointment of the President of the Jury is made following several annual management proposals submitted in the fall season, and then, the final submission is made to the Festival's Board of Directors for validation.
Actor Deepika Padukone was chosen this year as a part of the eight-member jury, along with prestigious names such as actor-filmmaker Rebecca Hall and Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. Her selection in the panel is a matter of pride for India.
Previously, those Indians who have been part of the jury include the late director Mrinal Sen (1982), director Mira Nair (1990), author Arundhati Roy (2000), actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (2003), Nandita Das (2005), Sharmila Tagore (2009), Shekhar Kapur (2010) and Vidya Balan (2013).
What will be Padukone's responsibilities as a jury member?
The Cannes jury meets annually at the historic Villa Domergue to select the winners. This year, 21 films are competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award. Deepika is already present at Cannes to join her duty as a jury member. She will be responsible for choosing the winner of the Palme d’Or along with the other jurors. The winner will be announced on the closing day of the festival, which is May 18.
What does it mean for India?
Union Minister Anurag Thakur stated that the Country of Honour status ensured India’s presence as a “focus country” at the opening night of Marché du Film. PM Narendra Modi had already expressed his happiness over the fact.
Minister Thakur will be releasing the International Indian Film Festival (IFFI) Regulation and poster. And the Indian Pavillion will also serve as a networking platform for delegates across global communities. To showcase the excitement and diversity, an Indian flavour will be added to the night of Marché du Film, with special performances by Indian choir bands along with folk music and fireworks. Both French and Indian cuisines are set to be served at the event.
“(It is) a huge honour, not something our country has seen often,” Deepika Padukone said at the festival.
Do budding filmmakers get to leverage this?
Union Minister Anurag Thakur announced that under the Country of Honour tag, five new start-ups would be given an opportunity to pitch to the audio-visual industry. Ten professionals will also participate in the Animation Day networking. Films from diverse backgrounds are set to be pitched at the Film Market, which means that Indian cinema is making headway internationally. And this makes it a suitable time for budding filmmakers to experiment and explore.