Belgium's Dardenne brothers seek Cannes fest immortality

April 24, 2019 - 11:26

Belgium's Dardenne brothers seek Cannes fest immortality


Belgian film directors Jean-Pierre (L) and Luc Dardenne are seeking to win an unprecedented third Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. — AFP Photo

BRUSSELS — Belgium's Dardenne brothers are already Cannes Film Festival legends, with two Palme d'Or prizes under their belt, and they're well aware the bar is very high to win the top prize an unprecedented third time.

After Rosetta in 1999 and L'Enfant in 2005, "we're starting with a serious handicap," joked Jean-Pierre Dardenne in an interview with AFP in Brussels on Tuesday, as the two filmmakers prepare to return to the famed Croisette next month.

For a film, "Cannes can be a loudspeaker or the Terminator," he said, referring to a bad reception by Cannes' notoriously picky journalists and critics whose opinions can make or break a movie.

While refusing details on their eighth selection for the two-week festival, the brothers just said the film dealt with the Islamist radicalisation of a teenager, a sensitive topic in their native Belgium that suffered deadly attacks in 2016.

"We don't make a film on a theme, we make a film on characters, we are telling the story of a child," said Jean-Pierre Dardenne, whose films are dark portraits of French-speaking Belgium's most blighted corners.

On the controversial subject of showing films produced by Netflix at festivals, the Dardenne brothers think that only the Cannes Film Festival has the power to dictate its terms to the popular streaming service.

"Berlin (La Berlinale) doesn't have the weight, Venice doesn't have the weight to negotiate that," said Luc Dardenne.

Last year Cannes barred Netflix films from its vaunted competition since the company refuses to allow its productions an exclusive theatrical release before streaming them to its 140 million subscribers. Netflix is still in discussions with Cannes about this year.

However, the Berlin and Venice festivals have embraced streaming platforms, with the latter crowning the Netflix feature Roma with its top prize in September.

"American filmmakers want to show their films at Cannes. Cannes is a myth for them and with the arrival of Disney (which will launch its own streaming site) and other major platforms, Netflix will have to think seriously," Luc Dardenne added.

At Cannes, "the Netflix debate becomes more heated. Filmmakers produced by Netflix who want to come to Cannes will also put pressure on Netflix (to accept the festival's terms)," he said.  AFP