For reasons I’m not fully divulging, etiquette has been on my mind a lot lately, especially in the way of film. Cannes, one of the biggest film festivals of the year, apparently has it’s own rules on what kind of behavior is acceptable. I’ve always wanted to go to a major film festival, but the more I read about it, the more my desire to make that festival Cannes is tempered.
First, the booing. I don’t mind audience reaction to a film, in fact, it’s one of the things I love about seeing a movie in theaters. The resounding laughter, those rare moments of spontaneous reaction that we so rarely get en masse. For example, I will always remember the crowd’s reaction to The Joker’s “magic trick” in The Dark Knight, the audible sobs during the climax of Toy Story 3, and the joyful applause at Yoda’s lightsaber usage in Attack of the Clones. I usually don’t applaud at the end of films, except when I know the people who worked on the film are present. Personally it just feels like a hollow gesture. But I have always applauded the filmmakers when they were present, one to be polite, and two to show my appreciation. Making movies isn’t easy, and it’s an easy and socially acceptable way to say a nice “thank you.”
However, apparently the refined European audience of Cannes are free to boo whenever they please. Perhaps the most anticipated film debuting at Cannes this year was Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, and there were scattered audience members who booed the film. Now they are scattered, and it would hardly be worth noting except that this is a usual feature at Cannes. Malick is the antithesis of a prolific filmmaker, as he has only directed five films in his four decade-long career, and is this any way to reward his efforts, as well as the actors and crew that worked on the film? I think not. Every film is a challenge to make, and if you don’t like it, that’s no way to treat the hardworking people who made it.
And it’s not just the people attending the films that are guilty of rude behavior, the film journalists have also risen to the occasion with their bizarre and pandering questions. Salon’s Drew Grant has a write-up of the press conference for Kung Fu Panda 2, which included a question for Angeline Jolie about the death of Osama bin Laden. 1. Who cares what she thinks? 2. Osama is not in Kung Fu Panda 2 (as far as I am aware, anyway). They also asked Jack Black if he thinks real pandas have existential crises! I believe I speak for everyone when I say, What? (link: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/feature/2011/05/13/angelina_cannes_kung_fu_panda)
Anyway, I promise if I ever become some kind of professional (or an amateur with access), I will never ask questions this dumb at a press conference. And if I do go to Cannes, I won’t boo. Even if I hate a three hour film about a panda with an existential crisis.