Carey Mulligan was in Cannes on opening night; Clive Owen, Tilda Swinton, Emma Watson and Tom Hiddleston are among those Brits to have films at the festival. But in some quarters, as we move into the festival’s first weekend, there is continued gloom that Britain has no director in the revered competitive section, the heart of of the Official Selection.
In previous years you could almost guarantee that a British Cannes veteran such as director Ken Loach or Mike Leigh would have secured one of these competitive slots. But not this year. Some play down the significance of the British filmmaker absence pointing out that there are movies from British directors being screened in sidebar showcases at Cannes. In fact U.K. filmmaker Clio Barnard‘s new picture The Selfish Giant, shown at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes has been generating some positive advance buzz.
But one of Britain’s top reviewers see it as significant that there’s no U.K. director in the top competition. “We’re doing something wrong not to be among the top 20 films,” says Jason Solomons, chairman of the London Film Critics’ Circle.
He says: “There’s a lack of guidance in the industry as to what sort of films we should be making. We’ve had Harry Potter, we’ve had James Bond, those are great. But we should be feeding the energy of those big blockbuster successes back into a more cultural, more artistic, more daring and risky film culture than we’re prepared to take at the moment — and that I think that’s what’s evidenced here by not being in the big competition here in Cannes.”
To hear more of more of my conversation with Jason Solomons on the Croisette at Cannes check out this video: