Past Caméra d’Or winners…Where are they now?
Bant Mag // 8
That would make a great content for a VH1 show, right next to One hit wonders of the 90s and Hip Hop Wonders. Well, perhaps not. Even so, the list you’re about to encounter is one eccentric Cannes line-up for sure. Caméra d’Or, namely the Golden Camera Award is given to a director’s first feature film for theatrical screening (whatever the format; fiction, documentary or animation) of 60 minutes or more in length. The award was created by Gilles Jacob in 1978, the year he was appointed Director-General, along with the Un Certain Regard selection he created that same year. The 20+ list includes some infamous, some surprising and some ‘what on earth is he doing here’ directors. And since this is not a Cannes-promo per se, you will read my hotshots selection of Caméra d’Or winners and their recent whereabouts. (And at the risk of sounding crass, most of the names left uncovered here are better left for discussion in academic circles. Remember, we’re aiming for VH1, kids.)
1984 – Stranger Than Paradise, Jim Jarmusch
If Paul Auster is the archetypal New York writer, than I’d have to go with Jim Jarmusch as the archetypal New York director, provided that Woody Allen has relocated his helm in Europe in the past few years. Though not from New York, Jarmusch attended Columbia University as well as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (he was kicked out before graduating, on the account that he was misusing scholarship funds) befriending Tom DiCillo, Sara Driver and Spike Lee along the way.The crownless king of American independent cinema along with Hal Hartley and Todd Solondz, Jim Jarmusch was perhaps first discovered in Cannes. After his first film Permanent Vacation failed achieving positive reviews and was not released theatrically, Jarmusch went on to direct his second movie, which incidentally was his first breakthrough. The acerbic road movie, Stranger Than Paradise was shot on 125,000 dollars, and paved the way to many discerning art house movies. Since then, Jarmusch has directed favorites such as Down by Law, Night on Earth, Dead Man, and the more recent Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coffee and Cigarettes (the former short, turned into a full feature film in 2005), Broken Flowers and Limits of Control. He is now shooting Only Lovers Left Alive with Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska. In the meantime he is working on a documentary about the rock band The Stooges and co-writing a non-traditional opera about Nikola Tesla.
All of his deadpan but nonetheless arresting movies all exude the cool and blasé attitude of anything-South-of-14th-Street. So, what else has he been up to since 1982? Well, he stopped drinking coffee in 1986. Allegedly he still smokes, though I’d think he quits smoking multiple times a day, everyday.
1988 – Salaam Bombay!, Mira Nair
A favorite of Indians and non-alike, Mira Nair is not just a funny Eastern counterpart of Nora Ephron but also a Harvard graduate, a highly respected Caméra d’Or winner and an Academy Award nominee. A New York resident she has directed several films including Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, Namesake, Vanity Fair winning her fair share of awards along the way.
1992 – Mac, John Turturro
What Tom Waits is to Jarmusch, John Turturro is to Spike Lee. A real thespian, and a true Brooklynite, Turturro has appeared in Spike Lee’s movies more times than any other actor. And it is fair to say that his portrayal of the harried racist Pino in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing was his life-changing debut. Since then, he has directed a few award-winning films such as Illuminata (1999) which was nominated for a Palme d’Or, starring Turturro’s actress wife and mother of two Katherine Borowitz Romance and Cigarettes (2005), Passione (2010) and Fading Gigolo, which is in pre-production. With all due respect, it is hard to refrain from admitting that Turturro is a thespian more so than a helmer. And he has the awards to back that claim: a Best Actor from Cannes and a David di Donatello for his role in Barton Fink among others for his roles in The Quiz Show, The Good Shepherd and the television series Monk.
1995 - White Balloon, Jafar Panahi
The neorealist Persian director Jafar Panahi won his Caméra d’Or in 1995 with White Balloon. However, it wasn’t his only award from Cannes. In addition to two FIPRESCIs, a Silver Bear, a Golden Tulip as well as awards by organizations such as UNICEF, Amnesty International, Panahi won his second Cannes award, Un Certain Regard Jury Prize for his 2003 film Crimson Gold. His films evoke the humanitarian impulses of all, bringing to light the injustice and inequality Iranian women face everyday.
On 20 December 2010, Panahi was handed a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media, not to mention a ban on leaving the country. Even so, he shot –or left the camera on record– in his home for his 2011 pseudo-film-documentary This Is Not a Film. He has triggered an international uproar in the film circles with heavyweights like Joel & Ethan Coen, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee, Richard Linklater, Terrence Malick, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Harvey Weinstein in addition to over 50 Iranian filmmakers. And on a different note, he has not been able to attend Cannes for the last few years.
2005 – Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July
It is imperative to note that Miranda July shared this award with the Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara for his film The Forsaken Land (Sulanga Enu Pinisa). Born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger, she uses the surname ‘July’ as a reference to a character from the fanzine that she co-created with a friend Johanna Fateman of the band Le Tigre. Rumor has it that July had admitted never having worked a day job since she was 23 years old. Though she has been published, performed in videos, and even produced an LP before, she won the Caméra d’Or in 2005 for Me and You and Everyone We Know, which continued on the win countless awards. Since then being the over-achiever indie performance artist that she is, July has published six books, two albums, two EPs and several short films.
2008 – Hunger, Steve McQueen
Not to be mistaken for the actor also known as ‘the essence of cool,’ this British filmmaker/artist, holder of a CBE, recipient of the 1999 Turner Prize have been on the hall of fame of the art scene for over two decades. His Caméra d’Or winning film Hunger was followed by this year’s Shame featuring the actor du jour Michael Fassbender. While his artsy caliber is off the charts, his latest film Shame makes one question whether he has read or seen Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. And, a few more things better left unsaid…