If I’d Been Tweeting from Cannes…

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…the messages would’ve been madly multi-part, with as many chapters as the whole Harry Potter opus. My editors know I can’t say ‘Hi’ in 140 words, let alone 140 characters. I think I’m already over the l

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In French, it is spelled ‘tuite’?

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The chatter onscreen, in the press conferences, at café tables, among the critics and dealers, is usually in English, the lingua franca of Cannes. I’m told if you go deeper into the city, you can actually hear French spoken, but that’s just a rumor.

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The current chatter is monopolized by speculation about tonight’s closing ceremony. In a few hours the Jury will announce its big winners — the Palme d’Or (top award), the Grand Jury Prize (second place), Jury Prize (third), Director (fourth), plus citations for acting and a few other bibelots — so all the talk this afternoon is who will win; it’s like the endless pre-Oscar season compressed into one day.

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We’re all talking in the dark, so the more inventive gossips try mind-reading. What film, they wonder, might have appealed most to Jury President Robert De Niro? (The crime drama Drive, in part a tribute to Taxi Driver?) Is Jury member Olivier Assayas — the Carlos director and former Cahiers du Cinéma critic — the power behind the throne? It’s an odd field to handicap, since the electorate changes 100% each year.

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Here’s the word from one savvy handicapper (not me): that the Palme d’Or will be split between The Kid With the Bike by the Dardenne brothers (already two-time Palme winners) and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, with Best Actor going to Jean Dujardin, who plays the silent-film star in The Artist, the Festival’s sole uplifting delight.

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One might add Tilda Swinton for Best Actress in We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay’s domestic horror film about a woman trying to raise her disturbed son. Young Kevin, a fiend from babyhood, spends his first 15 years psychologically torturing his mom before killing a half-dozen of his classmates with his trusty bow-and-arrow.

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Another film getting talked up: Austrian writer-director Markus Schleinzer’s meta-creepy Michael, a very assured debut effort about a quiet white-collar worker (Michael Fuith) who has kidnapped a nine- or 10-year old boy (David Rauchenberger) and uses him as a sex toy while keeping him imprisoned in a basement room.

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Schleinzer served as casting director on Michael Haneke’s 2009 Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon, which also dealt with child abuse, and uses to stunning effect Haneke’s style of treating sensational subjects with uninflected grace. The film deserves a prize — at least the Caméra d’Or, given to first features, and maybe more.

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Somebody coming out of the movie said it would have been even better if the boy Michael kidnapped had been Kevin. Like Alien vs. Predator, but with creatures who can pass for humans.

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Other films getting talked up: Maiwenn’s French film Poliss and Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre. No Palme buzz on Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In or Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place. All is also quiet on the two movies about young women in pricey bordellos — Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty and Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance —but the day is young. The prizes always include a few surprises.

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Changing times: In 1986, the U.S. bombed Libya, and Gaddafi says the strikes had killed his ‘adopted daughter.’ In retaliation he threatened to send missiles across the Mediterranean to Cannes during the Festival. Stallone and Spielberg, expected to come, canceled their trips, and Palais security was put in place that continues to this day.

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Twenty-five years later, UN forces led by France have been bombing Gaddafi’s troops and living quarters, yet no threats were issued and no one seems to care. The Colonel needs a feistier P.R. spokesperson — Peggy Siegal? The legendary NYC flack is here, blogging merrily away.

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Note to the TSA: Most of the guards waving their security wands over our pockets as we enter screenings are handsome men and gorgeous women. They make even the most jaded or paranoid journalist look forward to a full body search.

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In 38 years here we’ve never been to an evening screening for a Competition film, where tuxedos and fancy gowns are required. Black shoes too. Michael Barker, co-boss of Sony Pictures Classics, was stopped from entering the opening-night film, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, because the cowboy boots he sported are brown. Woody had to wave Michael in personally.

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Even Ingmar Bergman, if he’d come back to life, shown up and vouched for his fellow Scandinavian, could not get Lars von Trier into tonight’s ceremony. The Festival declared von Trier ‘persona non grata’ for making careless jokes about Nazis at the press conference for his film Melancholia; he’s been warned not to come with 100 meters of the Palais.

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With the same tabloid spirit that made U.S. political commentators wish for a Donald Trump Presidency run, the journalists here hope that the Jury gives a prize to von Trier’s Melancholia. The melancholy Dane monopolized Cannes coverage here for three days by embarrassing himself with his “O.K., I’m a Nazi” banter. The international press knows that a von Trier award would make front pages across the world.

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Another missing auteur: Jafar Panahi, the world-renowned Iranian director (The White Balloon, The Mirror, The Circle) who, for supporting his countrymen’s ‘green revolution,’ was sentenced to six years in jail and barred from making films for 20 years. Defiantly, Panahi made a film (with co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb); puckishly, he titled it This Is Not a Film.

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A 75-minute record (shot partly on his iPhone) of a day in his life, the film shows Panahi talking with his lawyer, his wife, a few friends and a visiting trash collector who wants to be in movies (or is he a government spy?). The big news in this brave, poignant little non-film: Panahi’s daughter has a four-foot-long pet iguana, named Iggy, whom the director is reminded to feed daily.

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This Is Not a Film shows how the best directors simply can’t stop telling stories through pictures, even if the impulse carries a jail sentence. Did the Iranian court also rule that Panahi was forbidden to Tweet?

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