Nanni Moretti

With this year’s Cannes Film Festival quickly coming round the bend, now’s as good a time as any to officially start the FSR pre-festival coverage, and as if by magic, perhaps sensing that I was about to do so, the good folks on the south coast of France have announced that Tim Roth will lead the jury of the festival’s secondary competition. The Un Certain Regard competition seeks to offer films with some intriguing hook or selling point, setting a different tone to the main competition and occasionally unearthing some genuine gems thanks to its agenda of championing new talents. It is that competition that the British actor, famed for such roles as Reservoir Dogs and lately Lie To Me, will preside over, perhaps bringing his own stamp to affairs. So, we can probably expect violence and facial intensity to play a big part – and if Roth’s own The War Zone is anything to go by, we can also expect another trip down the abuse avenue that featured so heavily in the films screened last year.

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Probably the most controversial film screening at the festival, thanks to the usually virulent reaction that anything that is even remotely anti-religion tends to get these days, Habemus Papam is director Nanni Moretti‘s latest irony-laced film, which takes a firm stab at the institution of the Vatican (and unsurprisingly has already inspired notable calls to boycott it). This isn’t new territory for Moretti, who follows up 1984’s religious satire The Mass is Ended, with this look at the Vatican’s attempt to elect a new Pope, which remarkably is also the Italian director’s sixth film in Competition at Cannes over the years. In Habemus Papam, otherwise known as We have a Pope, we are introduced to the conclave of Vatican Cardinals as they meet to elect the new pontiff  from their ranks (a process which hilariously is presented like a group of school children unwillingly sitting for an exam). Panic ensues when the eventually-chosen candidate played by Michel Piccoli (who I swear is Carl Reiner’s long-lost twin), has a major anxiety attack at the responsibility and refuses to present himself to the crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square. In desperation the Vatican turn to a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti himself) to try and help the Pope deal with his issues, only for him to go on the run in Rome, posing as a normal civilian to hide from his Godly duty. Hang on, a major world leader with a psychological crisis? A therapist brought in to help him? So really, it’s sort of like a comic The King’s Speech, only with more full frontal […]

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