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Editor's Note
I told a colleague who had never been to Cannes before to stop by the terrace of the Hotel Grand each night for a quiet drink and to catch up with everyone else returning home from all the parties. What was I thinking? I had somehow been recalling the Grand from several years ago, when that's exactly what you did. In recent years it's been scaling up, and this year it's gone quite over the top. Major brands, like Audi and Grey Goose, have pop-up demo rooms on the front lawn, there's now an outside bar, and the atmosphere is one of full-on partying. If you looked towards the ocean the other night you could see fireworks, and a few minutes later Kanye West took the stage at the Red Granite party at Carlton Beach.

Of course, people still do stop by The Grand each night on their way home, and if the films this year aren't exactly blowing people away, the consensus is that the film market is going gangbusters. "Sundance proved there was still a market for the smaller films," one financing agent told me. "This year Cannes is demonstrating that the studios still want to buy too." He continued, "The studios are making the tentpole movies -- Thor and the like -- and acquiring the rest. And because films like Black Swan, True Grit and The Social Network did well last year, they're looking back and saying, 'we need some more of those.' Studio executives have short memories."

So, while people debate the Terrence Malick and Lynn Ramsay films, the sales companies are experiencing brisk sales in the low-to-middle end (meaning under $50 million or so) of the studio business -- films like Rian Johnson's new Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. The production only recently wrapped, shooting two weeks in China in order to qualify as a Chinese co-production, and it was sold by FilmNation to Sony. (See my interview with FilmNation's Glen Basner posted at the start of the festival.)

Cannes traditionally slots some of its heavy-hitters for the end. Quite a few Palme d'Or winners have screened on the final day; this year that slot goes to the Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Almodovar has yet to screen, and by the time you read this the Lars von Trier will have unspooled. (Yes, throughout this piece I'm employing the pretentious practice of referring to films by their directors' names.) The buzz so far? The film that seems to have delighted both audiences and critics is Aki Kaurismaki's immigration comedy, Le Havre. Joseph Cedar's Footnote, a sly Israeli comedy/drama about philology and father-son rivalry, was an early favorite. Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist, an almost-silent film shot in the old 1.33 aspect ratio, is also a crowd pleaser even if the hardcore critics aren't quite as enthusiastic. Among the American independents, Liza Johnson's adroit debut feature, The Return, has impressed with its cool portrait of a returning female soldier who becomes unmoored from the elements of her former life. (Read my interview with Johnson here.)

I'll write a bit more about the films on the blog, along with a couple of other reports, including one looking at filmmakers who have come to Cannes not for a premiering film but to participate in one of the festival's many other programs and activities. If you're here in Cannes and want to send me a comment on your experience, you can always drop a line at editor.filmmakermagazine AT gmail.com.

See you next week.
Best,
Scott Macaulay
Editor

P.S. We've published two pieces online recently you should check out if you haven't. One is filmmaker Eric Samulski's piece on building your own film school. The second is Nicholas Rombes witty argument that Paranormal Activity 2 is actually a piece of experimental cinema.
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Hammer To Nail
BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO By Michael Tully

The knowledge that Jessica Oreck is an entomologist at the Museum of Natural History in New York City who has never previously made a film might cause one to worry that Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo will be an unavoidably stiff and grueling piece of video academia. Worry not, skeptic. Oreckís wildly precocious exploration of Japanís ongoing fascination with, and connection to, insects just so happens to be one of the more exhilarating new documentaries of 2009. This is a shining example of when a filmmakerís innocence has resulted in something much more vibrant and alive than it otherwise might have been coming from an experienced veteran. read more
New In Theaters
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Fresh off its opening night premiere at Cannes, Woody Allen's latest is a whimsically nostalgic tale that highlights the magic of the City of Light and our yearning for the past. Midnight in Paris follows Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter, who travels to Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and while there discovers a supernatural gateway into the city's vibrant past. Sporting wonderful supporting performances from Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Alison Pill, and Adrien Brody, Midnight is Allen's best film since Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Recent Blogs
This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay speaks with director Liza Johnson about her Cannes entry, The Return (pictured left); Slated creates an online film finance marketplace; and Eric Samulski's tells us about creating your own film school.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.
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THE MICROBUDGET CONVERSATION: ART & POVERTY″ By John Yost

This week I leave you in the capable hands of our editor Scott Macaulay. One of the exciting aspects of this gig is learning from a fella like Scott. A producer of some of my favorite indie films, he has been a great mentor and producer of this column. I asked him to just go nuts and write what was on his mind. Voila! read more
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