Members of the Cannes Film Festival competition jury, including Paul Dano, Brie Larson and president Ruben Östlund, talked about the ongoing WGA strike and Johnny Depp during the jury press conference on Tuesday, the opening day of the 76th edition of the fest.
Along with Östlund, Dano and Larson, Titane-directing Palme d’Or winner Julia Ducournau, I Am Not a Witch breakout filmmaker Rungano Nyoni, actor Denis Ménochet, Argentinian director Damián Szifron, Afghani-born, French-based filmmaker Atig Ranimi and Moroccan director Maryam Touzani make up this year’s jury.
Cannes is happening while back in the U.S., screenwriters continue to occupy picket lines in New York and Los Angeles, with contract negotiations still ongoing with the major networks and studios. When asked about the strike, Östlund offered, “I think it is great that people have a strong collegial feeling so people can go out and have a strike. I am definitely pro.”
Dano, a member of the WGA with his wife Zoe Kazan, added, “My wife is currently picketing with our six-month-old strapped to her chest, and I will go be with them on the picket line when I get back from here.”
Larson, who is a Cannes first-timer, was asked about the Johnny Depp-starring film, Jeanne du Barry, opening the festival and, as an outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors and former member of the Time’s Up advisory board, if she would be attending the film’s out-of-competition screening. (Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard has long accused the actor of abuse.) “You’ll see if I see it, and I don’t know how I’ll feel about it if I do,” the Oscar winner said.
As France continues to see massive protests in light of the government attempting to raise the retirement age, the city of Cannes has chosen to ban protesting on the Croisette and the surroundings of the festival headquarters. The city says the ban is to prevent civic unrest. The labor union CGT is still preparing a large demonstration on May 21, taking place along Boulevard Carnot, away from the Croisette. Östlund voiced his support for protestors, in general, at Cannes, saying, “I support that they are doing it, it is one of the great things with the festival that the world is looking towards you, and you get to say things you want to say.”
Asked about the personal importance of the Cannes film festival, the jury talked about the excitement of seeing world cinema on its biggest stage. Dano said, “When I discovered world cinema, that is when I became interested in the making of films and not just acting.”
As for jury duty, Östlund said, “We don’t have to be smart, we just have to follow our first instinct when we have to want to say something.” He added that he wants to encourage open conversation among the jurors and was hoping to stay away from being overly intellectual: “I want to encourage everybody that we should not go into a consensus.” He also promised that the jury “will keep our mouths completely shut” so there will be no rumors about which projects are awards frontrunners.
Östlund is a two-time Palme d’Or winner and two-time Oscar nominee and fielded a question about the comparison of the two film prizes, saying, “If I had to choose between the Palme d’Or and an Oscar it’s an easy choice. I would rather have one more than I would want to the Oscar.”