Cannes & the Music of Politics

Cannes: State of the Festival

Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes film festival is about halfway through, and it's not just about starlets and red carpets -- real business gets done. Cannes is where American filmmakers go to meet with buyers from "foreign properties" to sell their international distribution rights. Often, independent filmmakers will sell foreign rights before the film is made, to finance production -- selling on the strength of the stars and the concept.

And it's also a huge place for filmmakers to get buzz for movies about to launch in the U.S. The biggest buzz-maker so far is certainly Michael Moore, pushing his documentary 'Sicko,' which skewers the American healthcare system. You know Europeans love it when he points out in the film how their healthcare is much more efficient...

It's not just movies. U2 staged a three dimensional concert, with 10,000 fans crowding the Croisette (the main drag) to watch the band's 3D movie. The catch is it only can be played on screens outfitted with digital 3D, but this type of thing pushes the theater industry to pony up for digital projectors. After all, DreamWorks Animation just announced they're going all 3D.

Quentin Tarantino took the stage at his press conference for "Death Proof," his half of the disappointing "Grindhouse" double feature from the Weinstein company. Falling far short of U.S. box office expectations, Tarantino is trying to drum up new interest for the film now, which is going to be released in a longer, stand-alone version. There's debate about whether two for the price of one makes more sense than stand-alone. It seems to me the problem will be generating interest for a film (or two) that's not new...

And everyone's favorite, Marty Scorsese, announced at Cannes the launch of the 'World Cinema Foundation,' devoted to the preservation and restoration of neglected films. This is similar to the Film Foundation in America that Scorsese launched, which has saved many movies, though couldn't prevent the fact that 90% of American silent films have been lost, as have half of all U.S. movies made before 1950. We'll see if the European films fare any better.

Making Political Music

Everyone needs a theme song. Hillary Clinton wants her fans to pick hers. is asking web-surfers to "choose our campaign song." How do politicians send the right message with music? Of the nine choices, two of them are by U2, famous for frontman Bono's worldwide appearances to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa and other issues.

Then they have "Ready to Run" by the Dixie Chicks, who so publicly spoke out against George Bush -- and were skewered for it. Which means, of course, they're on Hilary's side.

Email me if you see hidden messages in the other music selections.