Deauville 2021: Down with King crowned with the Grand Prix [palmarès]

The demonstration which was held until today was full of spectators and delivered Saturday evening an unassailable prize list.

First of all, one observation: the cinemas in Deauville were packed to the brim at each screening. The audience, enthusiastic. And, the rooms being crowded, we even saw some journalists and festival-goers not being able to enter and being forced to fall back on the nearest bar … From this point of view, the 47th Deauville festival was a success. Once again (after the highly symbolic last year), the seaside event showed that the desire for cinema, for theaters, is therefore still strong.

To satisfy this desire, you still need good films. And it is precisely those who were rewarded on Saturday evening.

Down With The King leaves with the Grand Prix of the festival. It is a nice sensitive film, which marries the doubts and the existential crisis of its hero. The story follows Money Merc, a hip hop star who can no longer compose. To find inspiration, Merc decides to move away from the city to settle in a farm in Massachusetts … On this almost burlesque starting point – which evokes more British comedies than Yankee rap films – Diego Ongaro signs, in a quasi-documentary mode and by mixing professional and amateur actors, a pretty portrait of a man in crisis. Do we have the right to leave everything on a whim? Is the grass really greener elsewhere? And how to manage the coexistence between two contradictory ways of life? Like his main character who arrives among the peasants with his bling bling costumes, and goes for a stroll in the forest in a big fur coat, Ongaro plays with clichés and sends everyone back to back, his gangsta rapper like the old farmer redneck welcoming him. The film holds in this shock of cultures rather pleasing, but also in the charisma of its main star. It is the rapper Freddie Gibbs who is at the center of the device. Ongaro’s camera tracks the slightest climates with his worried, weary or peaceful face. And it is he who gives the tempo (its pace, its music, its flow) of this soft film which concludes the festival on a light and positive note.

But it wasn’t just the bucolic rappers in Deauville this year, there was (mostly) the porn industry. And while Venice was celebrating female filmmakers, at the same time Deauville was highlighting the work of a director. When on the stage of the Lido, Audrey Diwan, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jane Campion came to collect their statuettes, in the room of the CID, it is Pleasure who walked away with the Jury Prize. In this radical, violent and uncomfortable film, filmmaker Ninja Thyberg takes a behind-the-scenes look at the porn industry. She follows the journey of Bella, a twenty-year-old Swedish girl who arrives in LA with the ambition of making a career in the industry. porn. Everything is detailed with a wealth of detail: the relationships with the other actresses, the degrading auditions, the murky shoots where violence competes with humiliation … the succession of shocking scenes – but never free or voyeuristic – have brought out spectators of sessions. It is because, between fiction and documentary, Thyberg’s film is serious, sad, painful; but he has the merit of being interested in an unknown industry, largely subject to patriarchal modes of thought perfectly rendered by Thyberg. To threats from men, their constitutive violence, their disgusting stratagems, responds the sorority of sex workers who try, as they can, to constitute a counter-power to the largely toxic men.

Toxic: it is also the word that comes to mind when we think of Red rocket, another recipient of the Jury Prize and another film against the backdrop of US porn. Red Rocket is Mikey, a laminated porn star who at the beginning of the film returns to his hometown of Texas. He is encrusted with his ex-wife and his ex-mother-in-law the time to rebuild his health. He pretends to be passing through and looking for a job, but in a crisis-ravaged America, with a CV as short as his cock is long, Mikey can’t find anything. He wanders, by bike, between refineries and deserted service stations. He starts selling hash to earn some money and runs into Strawberry, a 17-year-old girl, a saleswoman in a donut shop. Mikey is in love. He seduces her and gradually sees her as his ticket back to LA … There are several films in Red rocket. First, a nice study of characters. Mikey is an ambivalent character. Selfish and arrogant, handsome and miserable, a guy who can rip off his loved ones without a hint of regret. Resourcefulness and lies are his personal Gods. His tchatche (machine gun) is his favorite weapon. If Sean Baker finds no excuse for him – he films his bastringue seduction and his redneck flamboyance with formidable energy – the film works mainly thanks to the charisma of Simon Rex. Ultra white smile, velvet eyes, body of Apollo, this former porn star (re) partly plays her own story and finds here the role of her life. Corn Red rocket is little more than an adventure in the land of the lose. In the background, on TV, the election of Trump in 2016 is being played out. And behind the portrait of the loser hides a political film. A painting of America White trash, this America of the shattered margins, where scheming and cowardice are the keys to survival. Texas suddenly becomes the symbol of all Yankee oppressions (as the kid says “before black gold, we lived on black ivory”). And with his dreams of greatness and easy money fueled by his cowardice and immaturity, Mikey becomes the embodiment of Trumpian America.

Baker’s film is bright and serious, picaresque and pathetic, where Pleasure is violent, radical and committed. But the two films answer each other in a surprising way and giving them the Jury Prize ex aequo accentuate these parallels.

Finally the audience’s prize went to the melodrama on immigration Blue bayou by and with Justin Chon while the Louis Roederer Foundation Prize for Revelation rewarded John and the hole by Spaniard Pascual Sisto. This film tells how a teenager badly in his skin will sequester his parents in a bunker. But the fable has fun taking the public on the wrong foot and never takes us where we think …

If the record is unassailable, we still regret the absence of Pig. In Pig, Michael Sarnoski films Nicolas Cage (shaggy, bloody and silent) unexpectedly far from his recent punk film. Constantly defeating all the expectations of the spectators, the young filmmaker leads the spectator away from the revenge movie expected and allows Cage to slip beautiful autobiographical notes. We’ll talk about it soon.

The winners of the 47th Deauville festival

Grand Prize: Down with the King by Diego Ongaro

Jury Prize ex-aequo: Pleasure by Ninja Thyberg and Red rocket by Sean Baker

Critic’s Award: Red rocket by Sean Baker

Public Prize: Blue bayou by Justin Chon

Revelation price: John and the Hole by Pascual Sisto

Ornano-Valenti price: Magnetics by Vincent Maël Cardona

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