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Cannes Film Festival awards and The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir

By Rosslyn Hyams

Cinefile with RFI's Rosslyn Hyams takes a look back at some of the main features of the Cannes Film Festival this month, a bumper edition in many ways. Also a feelgood pic pools India and French production talent in just released The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir directed by Ken Scott.

The 2018 Cannes International Film Festival jury headed by actress and women's rights activist Cate Blanchett gave the Golden Palm to Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu's 13th feature, Shoplifters. The jury usually awards seven prizes but this year was special in that it awarded nine.

The Best Scenario Palm went to to two best scripts, Alicia Rohrwacher's Happy as Lazarro and Jafar Panahi's 3 Faces which is one of the first Palm winners to go on general release in France since the festival, on 3 June 2018.

A special one-off award was given to 87-year-old Jean-Luc Godard for his work, and for his intellectually and emotionally stimulating film entry in the Palm competition this year, The Image Book where he plays as much with sound levels as with images, colour and form.

Besides the strong films from across the world which won the prizes, and some others which didn't, the festival pulled off a change of media focus.

Ahead of the festival, screening time changes were not well-received and doomsday commentators thought the end was nigh because of this and other novelties. But, once into the event, action to further the cause of women's rights stepped into the spotlight, and the Cannes International Film Festival rediscovered its former glory.

Two high-profile women-power demonstrations at peak viewing time, the at least-50-per-cent satisfying selection, as well as clinched deals in the market section, proved that the festival can thrive. It doesn't need former US producer Harvey Weinstein, now in the eye of the sexual-abuse and harrassement storm.

Review - The Fakir's Extraordinary Voyage

Looking for a charming but not entirely soppy film? The Fakir's Extraordinary Voyage could be the one to liven your spirits.

Indian Tamil actor Dhanush and Somali actor Barkhad Abdi share migrant woes and joys in Ken Scott's The Fakir's Extraordinary Voyage, Le Voyage Extraordinaire du Fakir Brio Films/Sony International

Canadian Ken Scott of Delivery Man and Starbuck-fame has directed this Franco-Indian-Belgian coproduction, blessed by Sony International Pictures.

As the hero says, "Chance is in the hand of cards that life deals you," and the production seems to be quite lucky to get such a boost.

The hero Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod, performed by southern Indian actor, Dhanush, is a showman, and Dhanush's energy level and expressions keep the romcom on the move.

As in a fairy-tale, Scott makes the impossible possible. He also makes fun out of difficult situations. Aja, the conman-tourist's life is a roller-coaster. Even when the hero is about to be deported from the UK as an illegal immigrant, Scott throws in a singing policeman routine.

High points in The Fakir's Extraordinary Journey are some examples of Indian cinema's legendary dance routines, which Dhanush mixes with a touch of Michael Jackson and Saturday Night Fever nostalgia whisking Bérénice Béjo round a green- and purple-lit disco, postcard pretty scenes in Paris and Rome, the "I don't think I'm a lesbian" flat-mate-in-pyjamas scene, the singing policeman, and the way Scott has us laugh along with would-be migrants.

The director also observes the hardships of migrants from Africa or elsewhere as they are shunted around and back to square one, if not worse.

"If we get people to think about what the migrants go through and to realise that they are the same as everybody else, then we will have accomplished something," said Scott who also told me that he was sought out so that he would bring his trademark humour to the film.

Released in France on 31 May 2018.

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