Cannes is not just about film. The festival lends its immense promotional strength to causes in which it believes. This year, Angelina Jolie talked about her double mastectomy on the eve of the festival opening. Next day, the first editions quoted the festival’s artistic director, Thierry Fremaux: “Angelina is devoted to life and to the happiness of people. She is great.”
Cannes’ most prestigious charity show is Cinema Against AIDS. It is arguably the most coveted ticket of the film festival. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is extending her stay to attend the event, scheduled for the evening of May 23. This year it features The Ultimate Gold Collection Fashion Show. Forty top models will glide by flashing designer gold.
It is unrivalled in its success at generating funds for The Foundation for Aids Research (amFAR). The event goes with unscripted, unforgettable moments. One year it’s George Clooney bestowing a kiss on a lucky auction bidder or Sharon Stone dancing to an impromptu performance by Sir Elton John and Ringo Starr or Mary J Blige bringing the crowd to its feet with a moving rendition of U2’s anthem One or Janet Jackson paying a heartfelt tribute to amfAR’s co-founder the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
On May 20, the Festival hosted a fund-raising auction to support Plantu & Friends: Cartooning for Peace. Original collector artwork was on sale at this unique meeting of editorial cartoons with films. Conceived in 2008 by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and Plantu, Cartooning for Peace aims to promote a better understanding and mutual respect between people of different cultures and beliefs using cartoons as a universal language.
The exhibition will run at the Palais des Festivals throughout the duration of the festival. Some cartoons remind us that cinema creativity is still threatened in some countries like Iran or Algeria. If a film director has a problem with authorities, cartoonists from all over the world plan to take up his defence and report freedom of expression violations.
Huge support comes from Cannes for cinema itself. Cannes Classics, an official section of the Festival was created in 2004, by American filmmaker Martin Scorcese. He heads the World Cinema Foundation, which restores masterpieces of the past and funds preservation of film heritage.
Cannes Classics also pays tribute to the essential work being done by copyright holders, film libraries, production companies and national archives. Thus, Cannes lends its prestige to the release of classics in theatres or on DVD. This year, Cannes Classics includes the work of Jean Cocteau, Alain Resnais, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Kim Novak will be guest of honour, presenting Vertigo in which she starred.
From India, 2013 Cannes Classics presented Satyajit Ray’s gem, Charulata. It is based on a Tagore story, which revolves around the beautiful and childless, Charu. She lives a privileged idle life in the Calcutta of the 1870s. Her husband, Bhupati, spends all his time running his press. Sensing Charu’s plight, he invites his brother-n-law Umapada and his wife as houseguests.
Amal, Bhupati’s younger cousin also arrives after his graduation. Soon Charu and Amal's closeness goes beyond a mentoring relationship. Umapada absconds with Bhupati’s savings. Amal, shamed by his cousin’s betrayal, also leaves. However, husband and wife, now alone, arrive at a new understanding.
The screening was attended by RDB Entertainment’s Director and Head of International Sales, Varsha Bansal, who was closely involved during the restoration process. The restoration was completed in India at Pixion Studios/Cameo Media Labs and was commissioned by RDB Entertainments, which is an associate company of the production company RDB & Co.