At Cannes: the film's producer Kath Shelper (left), actors Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, and director Warwick Thornton.
Stephanie Bunbury, Cannes May 18, 2009
THE Cannes audience gave Australian director Warwick Thornton and his cast a five-minute standing ovation yesterday after Samson and Delilah screened at the famous film festival.
"It was interesting because there was a whole mob of 'thank you for making that film'," said Thornton later. "That's bizarre, to thank you for making a film!"
Samson and Delilah, which is currently playing successfully in arthouse cinemas in Australia, is not easy viewing. It tells the harrowing but redemptive story of two indigenous teenagers who are driven out of their remote community and slip into abject poverty and substance abuse.
"Every shot," according to the review in influential trade magazine Variety, "imparts plot and character information with simplicity and intelligence."
In Cannes, it screened in the festival's Un Certain Regard section, which emphasises works by directors with a strong personal vision. The film screened twice on Saturday to packed houses while Thornton did interviews with international media. At a cocktail party on Saturday evening, he described his "beautiful day".
"I woke up in the morning and said to myself, 'Today is the beginning of the rest of my life, whether they like my film or not'.
"But they liked it, which was amazing. Because you don't know. Today was a complete validation of the film's ability to cross oceans and transcend language barriers."
The film had been sold to South Africa, which pleased producer Kath Shelper. "But I don't really care if we sell it," she said. "For me, at the moment, it's really important it works in Australia, which it has: people are really embracing it … Whatever happens overseas is a bonus."
Although it is not in the main competition, the film is eligible to win the prize for a first feature, the Camera D'Or.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Thornton's mob in Cannes
From The Age: