The Un Certain Regard (U.C.R.) program was officially launched during a brief ceremony tonight in the Debussy theater. Festival programmer Thierry Frémaux, who as per Cannes’ tradition emcees the U.C.R. premieres, brought the members of the jury on stage tonight before a screening of Lou Ye’s film “Mystery.” Jury president Tim Roth, flanked by actress Leïla Bekhti (pictured), Tonie Marshall (a director and producer), Luciano Monteagudo (an Argentine film critic) and Sylvie Pras, who manages the Centre Pompidou in Paris and runs the Festival de la Rochelle.
Roth opened the evening by clamoring “welcome to socialist France,” though he didn’t get the response he might have expected, at least right away—maybe people didn’t hear him. Everyone in the packed theatre was pretty much silent until he said, “it’s about f-ing time,” and then a lot of people in the room clapped and hollered.
Frémaux then introduced a five-minute teaser of a documentary film made about Sean Penn’s involvement in Haiti, “Operation Haiti.” The “Milk” actor has been on the island since early 2010, right after the earthquake struck. He will give a press conference tomorrow along with Paul Haggis and Petra Nemcova, all of whom have founded N.G.O.s to help with the reconstruction effort.
We should be feel grateful that our most visible and talented actor should have been implicated so enduringly in an event history will probably show to have been one of the worst tragedies of the last twenty years. That the Cannes Festival is giving Penn a stage is warming to the soul.
Afterward, filmmaker Lou Ye and the cast of “Mysteries” said a few words before the screening began.
Every year, awards are handed out to the U.C.R. winners during a ceremony which takes place on the Saturday before the close of the festival.