Cannes Report, Day 2: ‘Rafiki’ Makes History, ‘Don Quixote’ Scores Legal Victory

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Day 2 of the Cannes Film Festival was filled with screenings, most noteworthy being the showing of the Kenyan film “Rafiki,” but Terry Gilliam was the talk of the town when his film scored a huge legal victory on Wednesday.

A Paris court ruled that his long-in-the-works film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” could screen on the festival’s closing night despite a suit by a producer seeking to stop it. At the same time, however, the film lost its North American distributor, Amazon Studios, and Gilliam himself suffered a minor stroke over the weekend.

“Rafiki” made history on Wednesday when it became the first Kenyan film to screen at the festival. And Russia’s “Leto” also screened, but filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov introduced it in absentia given that he is still under house arrest in his home country.

Also Read: Cannes Report, Day 1: ‘Everybody Knows’ Premieres, Cate Blanchett Shines on the Croisette

Thursday sees competition films “Sorry Angel” and “Cold War” screening.

See below for Wednesday’s roundup:

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” Wins

Terry Gilliam was victorious on Wednesday, when a French judge decided to throw out a producer’s bid to stop the film from screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film, which Gilliam has tried to make for decades with several failed attempts, can now screen during the festival’s closing night.

Producer Paulo Branco, who was attached to “Don Quixote” but left after preproduction disputes, sought to block the Cannes closing-night screening. His lawyer issued a statement claiming that Gilliam needs Branco’s permission to screen the film.

But a court in Paris ruled Wednesday that the Cannes screening could proceed on May 19 as planned, so long as it’s preceded by a statement affirming Branco’s claims to the film rights. Branco will also be reimbursed for legal expenses.

Also Read: Terry Gilliam’s ‘Don Quixote’ Loses Amazon as US Distributor, Wins Court Fight to Screen as Cannes Closer

However, Amazon Studios on Wednesday pulled out of its deal to distribute Gilliam’s film in North America because of producers’ failure to deliver it, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. The distributor had been an eyeing a fall release.

The film stars Adam Driver as a 21st-century marketing executive named Toby who toggles between modern times and 17th-century Spain, where Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) mistakes him for his trusted squire, Sancho Panza.

Like Quixote, Toby becomes consumed by the illusory world and unable to distinguish his dreams from reality. The tale culminates in a phantasmagorical finale where Toby takes on the mantle of Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Kenya’s “Rafiki” Debuts

The first-ever Kenyan film to be included in the festival, titled “Rafiki,” debuted at Cannes on Wednesday.

Many people were moved by its political storytelling. TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review, “Second-time director Wanuri Kahiu, one of a larger-than-usual contingent of female directors in the main selection, has crafted a modest, at times striking drama that is perhaps more notable for what it represents than what it is.”

The film was banned in its home country due to its LGBT love story, with the Kenya Film Classification Board saying that homosexual scenes were illegal in Kenya.

Also Read: ‘Rafiki’ Film Review: African Gay Romance Is a First for Cannes

#Rafiki is – in terms of filmmaking – somewhat conventional. But in terms of representation politics & storytelling it‘s an important & well made glimpse into Kenya, it‘s people and society. And the 2 protagonists are strong leads. Takes a lot of Chuzpe to make this film. #cannes

— Beatrice Behn (@DansLeCinema) May 9, 2018

Rafiki falls apart narratively but great style, talented director and liked one of the leads quite a bit. Important gay film for Kenya. #Cannes2018

— Gregory Ellwood (@TheGregoryE) May 9, 2018

RAFIKI: definitely a first film, but it’s got a vital political utility and these leads have chemistry out the wazoo. It’s not Cannes unless there’s a movie with blacklighting!

— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) May 9, 2018

“Black Panther” Lights Up the Beach at Night

“Black Panther” was screened at night at the Cinema de la Plage — and what a beautiful setting to see one of the most talked-about films of the year.

A Cannes crowd has gathered for a nighttime screening of BLACK PANTHER on the beach

— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 9, 2018

Yo @MarvelStudios made it to #Cannes2018 Outdoor beach screening of Black Panther. Overflow on public beach behind it.

— Gregory Ellwood (@TheGregoryE) May 9, 2018

Russia’s “Leto” Debuts

Kirill Serebrennikov’s film “Leto” screened at the festival while the director himself still remains under house arrest in Russia on charges of corruption.

The film received mixed early reviews. One viewer described the film as “cinematic brilliance,” while another called it “exceptional.”

TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review that “‘Leto’ is the wildest and most bracing film to screen in the main competition so far this year. Part fond remembrance of an early-’80s Leningrad rock scene and part glam-rock fever dream, ‘Leto’ asks an audience to surrender to excess and at times to silliness, and it richly rewards them for doing so.”

Also Read: ‘Leto’ Film Review: Musical Biopic Is a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fever Dream

Leto aka Summer (Serebrennikov ’18) is an exceptional, and exceptionally morose, movie about internal conflict amidst social upheaval. An urgent cry for the present moment. No way this isn’t winning something… #Cannes2018 #Cannes

— The Habitus (@habituspod) May 10, 2018

Cinematic brilliance @Festival_Cannes #Leto #KirillSerebrennikov #coupdecoeur

— Julia Effertz (@JuliaEffertz) May 10, 2018

Kirill Serebrennikov’s LETO is not a Jared Leto biopic, but it’s closer than you might think: an opaque, exhausting, sometimes impressive, often misjudged dive into the Leningrad rock scene. Not my favourite of his.

— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) May 10, 2018

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‘Leto’ Review: Musical Biopic Is a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fever Dream

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you don’t count Wednesday night’s screening of “Black Panther” on the beach, the most fun to be had watching movies at this year’s Cannes Film Festival might well have come early in Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s “Leto,” when a train full of disaffected young musicians terrorize their more sedate passengers with a full-throated version of the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.”

Or 40 minutes or so later, when a busload of commuters breaks into Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”

Like the film itself, those sequences are energetic, messy, a little surreal and wholly enjoyable, a tribute to the power of rock ‘n’ roll to shake things up while also providing good fun.

Also Read: 16 Cannes Winners That Went on to Take Oscar Gold (Photos)

“Leto,” which premiered on Wednesday night and screened for the press on Thursday morning, is the wildest and most bracing film to screen in the main competition so far this year. Part fond remembrance of an early ’80s Leningrad rock scene and part glam-rock fever dream, “Leto” asks an audience to surrender to excess and at times to silliness, and it richly rewards them for doing so.

Serebrennikov is one of two main-competition directors who is not allowed by authorities in his home country to come to the festival, the other being Iran’s Jafar Panahi. He has been under house arrest for almost a year for fraud, though his supporters say it’s a trumped-up charge by a Russian government that wants to punish him for his art.

There’s a current of anti-government sentiment in “Leto” in the way its musicians can’t play the government-supported Leningrad Music Club until their lyrics have been approved by a stern censor who tells them, “Soviet rock musicians must find all that’s good in humanity.” When they do play, the audience is watched over by stern guards who are there to make sure they don’t stand up, move or do anything but applaud politely.

Also Read: ‘Donbass’ Review: Jarring War Film Reminds Us That No One Is Safe

But that’s not the focus of the film, which is based on the life of Soviet rock musician Viktor Tsoi, who was a legendary figure in his home country but is largely unknown outside Russia. But to those who aren’t familiar with Tsoi’s music, “Leto” works as a more universal story of striving and of rock ‘n’ roll dreams.

Tsoi, played by Tee Yoo, is introduced as he makes a pilgrimage to see established local musician Mike (Roman Bilyk), the leader of a band and a community of misfits whose idols are David Bowie, Lou Reed and T-Rex’s Marc Bolan. They pay lip service to punk music, but they’re really glam-rockers at heart.

Serebrennikov doesn’t go full glam with the film, though. For the most part, “Leto” is shot in lustrous black and white that can seem gritty at times but more often turns the film into a rock ‘n’ roll reverie, a fever dream born of “Aladdin Sane” and “The Velvet Underground and Nico” (and occasionally accompanied by onscreen animation in a number of terrific fantasy sequences).

Also Read: Terry Gilliam’s ‘Don Quixote’ Loses Amazon as US Distributor, Wins Court Fight to Screen as Cannes Closer

Tee Yoo, a Korean actor who learned Russian phonetically for the film, is suitably enigmatic as the gifted man at the center of a dizzying movement, while Bilyk is touching as the young rebel trying to adjust to the fact that he’s become an elder statesman of sorts.

At heart, this is a story of musicians who are dealing with several layers of frustration – cultural, artistic, personal – but manage to break through, one way or another. There’s a love triangle of sorts, as Viktor flirts with and falls for Mike’s wife, Natasha (a quietly compelling Irina Stashenbaum), but the heart of the film is in the songs, both Tsoi’s own music and Western tunes like “Psycho Killer,” Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” (used in a priceless bus sequence) and a ghostly, hallucinatory version of the hit Bowie gave to Mott the Hoople, “All the Young Dudes.”

A mocking line from that last song essentially serves as the theme of this film: “Oh man, I need TV when I got T-Rex?” These people didn’t need Soviet TV, they did have T-Rex, and for a while it was glorious – though as the end of the film points out the ones among them who died young, the glory is tinged with deep melancholy.

Like rock ‘n’ roll itself, “Leto” aims to be great and doesn’t worry about being messy. Unlike anything else at Cannes so far this year, it cranks the dial to 11 and is all the better for it.

Jafar Panahi: Cannes, French Authorities To Appeal Iran For Filmmaker’s Fest Presence

Read on: Deadline.

In a first for Jafar Panahi, the lauded Iranian filmmaker has a berth in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival with his latest work, Three Faces. What is not clear is if he will be allowed to travel to the Riviera for the honor. In 2010, Panahi was arrested by the Iranian authorities and banned from making films. He has continued to work, but is unable to leave Iran and still faces a prison sentence which has not been enforced. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux said…