The Washington Post

Filmmakers defend a language switch at English-heavy Cannes
The Washington Post

The Cannes Film Festival is as close to the movies’ answer to the United Nations. The filmmakers and media of the world are usually represented in one way or the other. The Croisette, Cannes’ seaside promenade, is usually a babble of tongues.

So this year’s festival slate of films was greeted with consternation in some corners when a commonality was noticed across many of the festival’s in-competition selections: the English language.

Though there are only two American filmmakers in competition for Cannes’ Palme d’Or and no British directors, this year’s festival is littered with Europe’s elite filmmakers working in a language not their own. On a continent that has warily watched English become a kind of de facto common language, fears flared that contemporary European cinema was being lost in translation.

Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino will on Wednesday premiere his second English language film, “Youth,” with Michael Cain and Harvey Keitel. Four other notable names in international film — Norway’s Joachim Trier, Italy’s Matteo Garrone, Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos and Mexico’s Michel Franco — are all making their English language debuts. And Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villenueve, an Oscar-nominee for his French language “Incendies,” premiered his English language drug war thriller “Sicario” on Tuesday.

As the festival has unspooled, many directors have defended their decision to switch languages for the sake of creative curiosity and for the greater opportunities it affords them.

À Cannes, des réalisateurs qui ne sont pas des anglophones décident de présenter des films tournés en anglais. La raison: ces réalisateurs veulent s’assurer qu’un plus grand nombre de gens puisse voir et apprécier leurs films.

Message aux réactionnaires du PQ: l’anglais ce n’est pas seulement la langue des affaires, c’est aussi celle de la culture! Get over it !