The first full day of the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival was critically successful for two films being shown. "Timbuktu," a narrative feature film from Mauritania, and "Mr. Turner," a period biopic about British painter J.M.W. Turner's life by filmmaker Mike Leigh, both films had favorable screenings as one of the world's most important film festival premieres new films from around the globe.
"Timbuktu," from filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, is a film in competition from the West African nation of Mauritania. This is Sissako's fourth feature film. His film "Waiting for Happiness" was featured at Cannes in 2002 and won the FIPRECI Prize and France Culture Award.
"Timbuktu" is the fictional story that depicts the conflict in Northern Mali. Timbuktu is a Malian town that has been suffering from the crimes by religious extremists. At the forefront of the story are the women from the town, including Fatima and her daughter Toya.
Film critic Jay Weissburg from Variety raves, "In the hands of a master, indignation and tragedy can be rendered with clarity yet subtlety, setting hysteria aside for deeper, more richly shaded tones. Abderrahmane Sissako is just such a master, and while previous films have showcased his skill at bringing magnetic dignity to his characters, 'Timbuktu' confirms his status as one of the true humanists of recent cinema."
Attending the red carpet premiere was "Timbuktu's" director Abderrahmane Sissako, the films actors Toulou Kiki, Ibrahim Ahmed, Fatoumata Diawara, Ketty Noel, Abel Jafri, Hichem Yacoubi, French actress Sonia Rolland and Israeli actress Yael Abecassis.
"Mr. Turner" is a biopic of British painter J.M.W. Turner's life and another film competing for the top prize at Cannes. The film was written and directed by Mike Leigh and stars Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson and Dorothy Atkinson. Leigh has been nominated for seven Academy Awards but has not won a single Oscar. He has found more recognition from Cannes. In 1993, Leigh won the Best Director award for his film "Naked." In 1996, his film "Secrets and Lies," also starring Spall, won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (which is Cannes award for independent films) and the top prize called the Palme d'or. Leigh's last award at Cannes was in 2010 for his film "Another Year." He won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention and the film went on to be nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay.
Film critic Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian, professes "Every scene in this film is expertly managed; every comic line and funny moment adroitly presented and every performance given with intelligence and love. It is another triumph for Mike Leigh and for Timothy Spall." Could "Mr. Turner," be that film that finally brings Mike Leigh his first Oscar? As we know, The Academy loves biopics.
Attending the red carpet premiere of the film "Mr. Turner" were actors Dorothy Atkinson, Timothy Spall, Marion Bailey, the film's director Mike Leigh and producer Georgina Lowe. Also in attendance were Ethiopian model Lydia Kebede, American actresses Zoe Saldana, Julianne Moore and Blake Lively and Russian actress Elena Lenina.