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4h06, 3h26, 3h17: We saw the longest films of Cannes 2023… and stayed until the end

When covering the Cannes Film Festival, you can find all kinds of films from different backgrounds and genres. This is what drives the wealth of different choices and what also makes us the curious moviegoers that we are.

In addition to seats that are sometimes difficult to obtain at the online ticket office, depending on the color of our accreditation, there is sometimes another element to consider in our journalist-heavy schedule of screenings: duration.

Every edition of the Cannes Film Festival counts feature films and the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is no exception. We tell you about our experience with the four longest feature films of the 2023 edition.

Occupied City: 4:06

Occupied City, presented at a special screening, is based on the book Atlas of the occupied city, Amsterdam 1940-1945 By Bianca Stigter. Suffice it to say, the subject matter of this 4:06 documentary was going to be heavy. This ambitious project is signed by Steve McQueen, a British director known for the films 12 Years a Slave and Shame, among others.

Occupied City offers a cross-portrait of two eras of Amsterdam: one in the picture of the last years, marked by the pandemic and social movements; Another spoke loudly about the period of Nazi occupation that continues in the capital of Holland, the adopted city of the director.

This exercise in style and this fascinating reflection on the duty of memory is worth a look, but you should be prepared to spend 4 hours in the room. At the very first screening of the film, Steve McQueen even jokingly pointed the way to the WC.

I went to the second screening at Buñuel’s room at the Palace of Festivals at 8:30 in the morning. The session was not over, but there were still people. Only twenty minutes into the film before the first departure. The first two hours pass, during which a few more people leave, with a fifteen-minute saving interval for the famous bathroom break that Steve McQueen talked about.

Just then a woman asked me what to do and if I was going to come back as if I was going to a party. Except that I got up early and was going to go to the end of the experiment. Especially since I really appreciate the movie, even if I nose dived into it two or three times. It’s good news, I find this woman after the interval, she also takes it.

I couldn’t say the same for those who took advantage of the break to slip away. For the more adventurous around me, some dropped like flies in limbo and some heavy breathing could be heard. It was hardly quiet until the end of the documentary, despite the more rhythmic second half, with a resurgence of music and live sequences that helped me stay awake and enjoy this moving documentary. Mullin, Steve McQueen.

Youth: 3h32

Youth, Wang Bing’s new film, is one of two documentaries in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year (along with Les Filles d’Olfa). Also, the Chinese director competed for the Palme d’Or for the first time, and another film “Man in Black” was presented at the special screening.

For Jeunesse, the surveillance wizard set up his cameras in Zhili, China’s garment capital, 150 kilometers from Shanghai. For five years, the filmmaker filmed young people from Yangtze River villages who came to work in this hotbed of exploited workers, who are still full of hope.

Even if they are involved in intense and questionable work, the group filmed by Wang Bing keeps their child’s spirit (they are between 17 and 21 years old) and enjoys breaks and daily life together in their dormitory like a kind of summer camp.

They work tirelessly so that one day they will be able to raise a child, buy a house or create their own workshop. Friendships and love affairs form and fall between them with the seasons, bankruptcy and family pressure.

Another show at 8.30am with itchy eyes, this time in the Agnès Varda Room at the Recovery Sessions Theatre. And a nice surprise, the screening ended with a very heterogeneous audience consisting of young viewers and older and experienced movie lovers. And a documentary by Wang Bing, whose work I did not know but which fascinated me, was able to hold the attention of its audience because there was very little departure to be noted during the screening.

During the movie’s 3h32, the only obstacle was each other’s bubbles, as there was a lot of going to and from the toilets. A small hurdle as you have to leave the room and go to another building in the basement, and that day in heavy rain. But that didn’t change the cinematic experience offered by Wang Bing.

Flower Moon Assassins: 3h26

It was one of the unreleased events at the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival: an advance screening of Martin Scorsese’s new film, Assassins of Flower Moon. The 80-year-old director has poured his heart and soul into designing his western, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro alongside Lily Gladstone, in what is a revelation of a feature film.

In this family mural that combines violence, humor, politics and tenderness, Martin Scorsese highlights a dark part of American history. In the early 20th century, oil brought wealth to the Osage, who overnight became one of the richest in the world. The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracts the lust of unscrupulous white men, who plot, steal, and steal as much of the Osage money as they can before turning to murder…

Based on true events and inspired by David Grann’s book published in 2017, this is also one of the first criminal cases handled by the FBI. And the master Scorsese proved once again – even if he no longer needed to – the full extent of his talent, as the applause was warm after the 3:26 screening in the Debussy Room, generally reserved for press screenings and which I attended. .

Even if the official screening reached the Grand Theater Lumiere, where Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone were filled with tears.

You should know that tickets were expensive for the screening of “Killers of the Moon of Flowers”, especially the press screening at the Salle Debussy, for which there was an impressive queue an hour before the session. Obviously, some are hoping to win a few seats, but in that room in particular, war has been declared.

We leave the bag in a place to mark the territory, shout and make big gestures for a colleague or colleagues to find each other, or save a row for friends. You have to be strategic to position yourself well and enjoy a great show. I found myself in the orchestra, people took me and I was very happy with this choice. Barely installed, the organizers had to relax a bit to start the screening. An interesting experience that recalls the chance to see this film long before its official release.

Dry herbs: 3h17

The duration of a direct flight between Paris and Istanbul is 3h25. That’s about the amount of time that Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan makes us spend in his country thanks to his last three films, which exceed three hours. And in particular Les Herbes secs, which breaks the so far winter sleep record and its 3h16 by only one minute.

Is it because he won the Palme d’Or with the latter in 2014, and therefore, out of prejudice, the director has since refused to go below the 180-minute mark? It is possible. Because for almost ten years (or more, if we take into account once in Anatolia 2h37), it was a long Ceylon. But it’s great.

This Friday, May 19, when the official screening of the feature film takes place at noon, the rain makes itself felt on the red carpet, which it is happy to soak. After a good half hour of being surrounded by umbrellas, I finally walk into the room with the camera crew to applause that I didn’t deserve, but whatever. And because of the weather, only the title grass is dry at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.

But we quickly forget it before the beauty of the plans developed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. And especially the first one, under the snow. As is often the case with the director, the frames are fixed and the movement takes place inside, during the long discussions the characters have with each other, in the story of a teacher who is desperate to leave his small village, but returns to the hope of the day. He meets a colleague.

Of course, you can feel the time passing, but Les Herbes secs is not boring. There were indeed two or three departures in the middle of the show, but not many (perhaps because we were so close to the camera crew with the orchestra of the Grand Theater. Or because I was in the corner of a respectful crowd). Sleep, on the other hand, hits a little harder. Especially my neighbor who missed a good part of the last hour. And this man sitting in a chair rubbing his eyes as if to resist… five minutes before sinking.

On the other hand, the main test is for bladders. Thanks to two long scenes that take place around a spring, with the sound of water flowing as a background to the dialogue between the two characters. Did Nuri Bilge Ceylan know that some viewers would find these sections difficult to follow? Especially since, despite its length, it’s not easy to find a moment when you get a slow but strangely charming rhythm (and surprisingly, when the scene breaks with reality). And that’s great.

When people get to the end of the movie…

Despite their very long duration, these films are a long way from the Cannes Film Festival record, which has been held since 2007 (and probably for a long time) by the documentary War, about World War II, which was shown for… 14 hours. on the counter.

As for the competition, the prize is still held by Andrei Konchalovsky’s Sibériade (Grand Prix in 1979) and its 4h30, ahead of Ariane Mnushkin’s Moliere’s 4h10.

Source: Allocine

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