My Cannes Moment: Joseph Kosinski, Warwick Thornton, Christian Mungiu, Paul Laverty and James Marsh share their best festival experiences

My Cannes Moment: Joseph Kosinski, Warwick Thornton, Christian Mungiu, Paul Laverty and James Marsh share their best festival experiences

Joseph Kosinsky
THE Top Gun: nonconformist director of the epic gala — including a French air force flypast — in 2022. This year he returns as executive producer of BMW Films The calm with the all-electric BMW i7 and with Uma Thurman and Pom Klementieff

The whole experience of Cannes – the photographers on both sides of the carpet and everyone yelling at you and being there with all of our cast and for us to be together, especially after the pandemic because the film was shot earlier – was just surreal.

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It was my first time in Cannes and it will be something I will never forget. And with the flyover, remember I had planes flying overhead for about two years prior, so that wasn’t the weird part. The planes flying over was something I was very used to but it was very nice to see the French Air Force and the French colours.

And[the screening]was really special, because it started with the tribute to Tom and then he got the Palm, and then we watched the movie and I sat next to him the whole time. So watching his career, while sitting next to him was pretty surreal, then watching the movie and seeing him punch me in the arm in excitement during the whole thing…that’s something I’ll never, ever forget .

It was a once in a lifetime experience. So yeah, it’s going to be fun to experience it in a different way this year.

Christian Mungiu
The Romanian director on winning the Palme d’Or in 2007 for 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

It was my first time racing so I was told I could go on the first day or the last day. We decided to go on day one, thinking we’d crush them hard at first and create an impression, even if everyone would forget the movie two days later. But after two days, people were still talking about the film. I was asked to stay another day and another day. I could hear people talking about the movie on the street, at parties. I gave one interview after another. We started hoping we could win something.

Then the awards came and the festival asked me to stay. At the ceremony, it looked like we might win the Palme d’Or. I was so stressed! The stakes were so high that I had a terrible headache. When they said my name, I completely passed out. I went on stage but missed the whole moment: I was just trying to concentrate, to say something clever and not act like a monkey.

Looking back, it appears that this was no accident. There is something about that movie. Even today it is remembered as very fresh, which changed the perspective a bit at the time. This is the hardest thing to do in cinema. You can make a good film but, above all, the more expert you become, the more you lose the innocence and freshness you had at the beginning. I don’t know if you’ll ever learn to touch it again. It is as much about a period in your life as anything else.

I’m glad the movie held up. You can read many books about communism, but the feeling of experiencing it, the feeling that everyone is watching you, is more interesting for young people to experience than to read.

Paul Laverty
Longtime writer Ken Loach, at the festival for the 11th time this year with The Old Oakreflects on his trip to Cannes in 2012

We were out there doing The part of the angels (in 2012), and we had this wonderful little boy with us, Gary Maitland, who’s been in a couple of our movies – he was also in Sweet sixteen.

But his real job is in the Glasgow Cleansing Department, (better known as) the Clenny. He is a trash man. In fact, there’s a great picture of him dumpstering with a bus going behind him and there’s a big ad for The part of the angels on it.

But we were in Cannes one night and he was back to work the next day. And we were looking at the water, he takes a glass of champagne, raises it and says, “Cannes to the Clenny.” And she rejects him.

From Cannes to Clenny! It’s the best quote I’ve ever heard.

Warwick Thorton
The indigenous Australian director returns to Cannes this year with The new boyon winning the 2009 Caméra d’Or for Samson and Delilah

When I was a first-time director at Cannes, they literally rounded up all of us newcomers and put us in one room and really taught us how important this opportunity was.

Because you can compete for the Palme d’Or 20 times, but you only get one chance at the Caméra d’Or with your first film. So it really added more pressure to the pressure we were already feeling to be in Cannes with our first job, but it also made it all the more exciting. And it created a great relationship between all of us new directors, because we were all together.

Coming back with The new boy in Un Certain Regard this time, I no longer have that crazy pressure. I can only be a part of the conversation and am there to play. Now it’s like, “Hey everyone, look at this beautiful thing we’ve done.”

James Marsh
The director of The theory of everything and an Academy Award for The man on the wire reflects on the emotional roller coaster ride that was her first trip to the festival (the one that would, ultimately, lead to her Oscar).

I was here in 2005 with The kingin Un Certain Regard, a very low budget American film with Gael Garcia Bernal.

You get the call from Cannes and it’s like wow, this wasn’t even in your wildest fantasy – they’re going to show your film in the official part of the festival. So you’re in Cannes, you’re at the premiere of your film and it’s apparently a big hit. I guess most of them are — there’s some kind of goodwill factor. Receive a standing ovation. So it all adds up and you think this is the best night of my life. Now I am a director.

And then the next morning I had to go somewhere to get some press. And I walked up to the publicist who was shuffling these magazines behind her. She looked really nervous. So I read the reviews and they are the worst possible reviews to write – just awful, terrible, evil. I am literally going from fulfilling my wildest fantasy to being destroyed… going from the pinnacle of success to the depression of despair and self loathing… and within hours.

I can’t do any feature films. I can not do anything. So I’m forced to go back to documentaries and do The man on the wire. So there was a happy ending.