Cannes 2011 Wrap-Up: Indie Gems and Five Things I Learned In France

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One of the best things about going to film festivals is taking a chance on a movie you know almost nothing about and coming out hours later inspired, broken, or slack-jawed; it's the indie gems that make the exhaustion well worth your time. Yes, attending the premieres of the big films is a fun and grand experience, but those films will release and have a fair chance at being seen by the public.

The hidden gems are the films that sometimes never see the light of day and it's quite heartbreaking.

At Cannes I did see some of the big films -- Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Lars von Trier's Melancholia and Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive -- but the ones I want to share with you, dear reader, are Justin Kurzel's Snowtown and Joachim Trier's Oslo, 31. august.

Speaking more to that aforementioned magic of knowing little about a film before you're captured by it, I'll say only this: Both deal with very serious subject matter, are painful to watch and very hard to swallow, but are excellent examples of daring independent filmmaking.

A few days ago IFC Midnight (IFC Films and Sundance Selects sister company) picked up Snowtown's North American rights, so there will be a release (it's out now in Australia) stateside in the near future. I highly recommend you see this film -- just make sure to have a puppy with you because you will want to hug it when the credits roll. Oslo, 31. august opens, yep, August 31 in Norway and there's no US release date at this time. If you bug your local arthouse theater [cough, Angelika Film Center, cough] maybe they can help get it to the states.

Finally, here are five things I learned about the French while in Cannes: 1. As stated in my last entry, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Pink Floyd are a staple of the French karaoke and party scene. 2. Parallel parking is second nature. 3. Eating McDonald's double cheeseburgers at 7 a.m. is normal. 4. Scooters and mopeds rule the streets. 5. Making an attempt to speak French -- at the very least saying "Bonjour" -- will get you a much more courteous response.

Chase Whale is the co-founder of GordonandtheWhale.com. Follow @GandtheW and @ChaseWhale.

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