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“[Parental Alienation is] the deliberate attempt by one parent to distance his/her children from the other parent and in doing so, the parent engages the children in the process of destroying the affectional ties and familial bonds that once existed." - Reena Sommer, Ph.D. M.Sc. (Family Studies), Ph.D. (Psychology & Family Studies); author of "Children's Adjustment to Divorce: The Case of Parental Alienation Syndrome"; 2004.

As soaring divorce rates in the 1970s left a previously uncharted emotional impact on a generation of children, studies began to identify a new form of abuse that would come to be known as ‘parental alienation’. Yet it has only been in the last decade that mental health advocates, child protection officials and, slowly, progressive family court judges are acknowledging the detrimental effects of the deliberate manipulation of a child’s emotional and mental state. One of the most vocal and determined advocates in the battle to have parental alienation unreservedly accepted by the legal and medical communities is filmmaker Ginger Gentile. Her 2014 documentary Erasing Dad (Borrando a Papá), an examination of gender bias and self-serving officialdom in the Argentinian family court system, was initially denied a release when said officials objected to their portrayal as perpetuators of a broken system that ignored family suffering in favour of hugely profitable court congestion. For her follow-up film Erasing Family, she will examine the global scale of the parental alienation problem and the effort to reunite those families torn apart by the insidious practice.

“As I was making Erasing Dad, I realized that I had suffered alienation when my parents divorced, and was still suffering, even as I made the film,” Gentile told SCREEN-SPACE from the US, having returned to her homeland after 12 years in Buenos Aires, where she co-founded San Telmo Productions with producer Gabriel Balanovsky (pictured, right; with Gentile). A father denied access to his daughter for five years despite having a visitation agreement in place, Balanovsky would become the inspiration for the documentary. “As filmmakers, we used his experience as the jumping off point for our investigation,” says Gentile, who shared directing duties on Erasing Dad with Sandra Fernández Ferreira (pictured, below). “We discovered many other fathers just like him, who were suffering from what we call ‘Family Bond Obstruction’ and that the courts were not doing anything about it.”

Gentile revealed the backward attitudes and shocking actions of child and family therapists, perpetrated in the name of the deeply prejudicial court system they serve. She recalls, “interviewing professionals who did court ordered reunification therapy who did everything possible to not reunite dads with their kids.” So systemic was this practice, says Gentile, “they admitted to it, with pride, on camera. One psychologist even said, ‘the most dangerous place for a child is her own home, due to the presence of a man, her father.’ It was shocking to here this spoken so openly, and this is what shocked our audience.”

The findings of the documentary point to outdated ideologies being propagated by those with professional self-interest. As Gentile puts it, “[The notion that] one parent is better, or gender biases that can work against moms and dads, combine with the personal interest of the professionals involved who make more money the longer the case goes on.” Other factors include the availability of government subsidies that encourage sole custody and the over-reporting of alleged abuse, be it entirely false or the elevation of small incidents to imply violence. In one case, recalls the director, “one father is accused of violence because he speaks Russian to his child.”

When Erasing Dad premiered in August 2014, the inflammatory nature of the film’s conclusions brought extensive media coverage, as well as a wave of litigation – from the very individuals in the film. “These professionals got a civil court to censor the film in Argentina, saying that it made them look bad,” recalls Gentile. “We still have problems showing the film, because once people see it they cannot look at the family court system in the same way.” Undaunted, Gentile turned the legal actions against the litigators, promoting the film via social media sites and Parental Alienation advocates both in Argentina (the Spanish language Facebook page has more than 38,000 followers) and across the world.

“We changed the debate,” says Gentile. “Family bond obstruction is not about parents fighting, it is about a system that profits from prolonging family conflict, and a society that stands by and does nothing to stop it. Parents who cannot see their children aren't the bad guys; they and their children are victims of institutional violence.” In the wake of the film, Gentile points out, “Argentina enacted joint custody legislation, and some judges began to reunite families. Some kids even saw the film and found their erased parents. The big lesson is that before the powerful take notice, first society must take notice.“

Erasing Dad engendered such passionate support, a sequel-of-sorts that further explored the parental alienation epidemic and the potential for the reunification of erased families was always likely. “Erasing Dad focused on fathers because in Argentina custody automatically went to the mother, until our film was released,” says Gentile, “ so our first idea was to make (a follow-up film) international and include stories of mothers as well.” Extended family members, including erased sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, will also be featured in Erasing Family. (Pictured, right; Gentile with actor Jason Patric, founder of the parental rights advocacy cause, Stand Up for Gus.)

Most importantly, the film will be about the journey faced by children, young or old, of erased parents. “Erasing Family will have the children themselves as the protagonists,” states Gentile. “They will discover that they were not abandoned, but were loved. The worse part is often when they reunite with their erased parent and extended erased family, the parent who did the erasing rejects them, often cutting off contact with siblings as well. So Erasing Family will follow the adult children as they reunite with their erased siblings.”

From one man’s story set against the archaic Argentinian family court system, Ginger Gentile and the San Telmo Productions team are coalescing a global movement that is on the verge of true social change. “Millions of children are obstructed from loving parents by the family court system,” she states. “Moms and dads alienated from their kids after divorce dream that their children will learn the truth about how hard they fought against forces that were intent on ruining the parent-child bond. The Erasing Family project will reunite families by creating a feature documentary film, interactive content and an awareness campaign that will show adult children of divorce how a perverse system stole a loving parent from them.”

Donations to help fund the production of Erasing Family can be made at at Follow the project at or via twitter and instragram @erasingfamily

Parental Alienation Awareness Day Australia will take place on Wednesday October 12. For more information and to register your support, visit and



Diarised months ago by any serious collector of cinema ephemera was midday, August 6. That is when the latest incarnation of the Fitzroy Film Fair opens for business and pleasure. The movie-themed bazaar that springs to life periodically in Melbourne’s inner–city mecca for all things cool is nestled into the confines of The LuWow, the South’s most swingin’ Tiki-themed enclave. The traditionally vibrant get-together promises to be the celebration of movie pop-culture fandom that founder Stuart Simpson (pictured, below; far left, at a recent FFF) had always hoped it would be. “It’s a relaxed social event where you can come and pray at the alter of movie madness,” he tells SCREEN-SPACE…

“I loved going to flea markets but always ended up at the film/tv/comic sections,” says Simpson, one of Australia’s leading underground auteurs who, as principal at Lost Art Films, directed the cult hits The Demons Among Us (2006), El Monstro Del Mar (2010) and Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2014). “I've always thought about how amazing it would be if the whole place was dedicated to the love of movies.” When approached by The LuWow founder Josh Collins with a concept for a film-themed event, Simpson envisioned a marketplace where true film buffs could indulge their passions with like-minded fans.

“I know there are giant conventions and all that, but (I wanted) something that was more about the old and forgotten stuff, the gems of yesteryear, those hard-to-find rarities,” he says. “The Luwow is such a perfect place for it, too; it even looks like a movie set. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.” The first event was held in September 2015 and proved so successful, Simpson moved quickly to ensure collectors and buffs never had to wait long for the party atmosphere to return; the second coming of the Fair was in December of last year, then again in April 2016. (Picture, right; actor Glenn Maynard manning his VHS-themed table).

The Fitzroy Film Fair ‘selling floor’ is a literal dream-come-true for the movie nerd, where the army of stallholders offer a myriad of collectible delights. The current craze for classic VHS packaging, aka ‘slicks’, and hard-to-find titles on the antiquated format is well catered for, as are those offloading newer libraries that have outstayed their welcome. “Variety is the key,” Simpson says, “I like to keep it open to all kinds of vendors of all sorts of quality. So you will find the old, dusty VHS right next to brand new Blu-ray.” Some of the most in-demand items are the vintage pop culture items, such as toys, promotional material and literature. “We've got something for everyone. One thing I do request is that prices are kept fairly low, (as) I want punters to feel like they are getting a bargain.

The celebratory mood extends beyond the buying and selling of silver screen artefacts. The December event hosted legendary B-movie goddess Kitten Natividad, star of the Russ Meyer classic Up!; in April, the Fair headlined a 16mm screening of the anarchic 80s nuclear-punk shocker, Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em.

Scheduled for the August Fair are three sidebar events that speak directly to the B-movie thrillseeker - live special effects makeup demonstrations from the students of the Australian Academy Cinemagraphic Makeup (pictured, right; work from the AACM student body); the launch of a new horror-themed T-shirt label called Squirm, the latest venture from The Search for Weng Weng director Andrew Leavold; and, a gallery of works from Brisbane artist, Jesse Breckon-Thomas. “He paints reproductions of Italian Giallo horror/pulp film poster art with his own unique stamp,” says Simpson, who promises the artist’s originals will become must-owns for lovers of Euro horror.

Adding to the unique ambience afforded by The LuWow’s vibrant décor will be soundscape and soundtrack selections piped into the two rooms that host the Fitzroy Film Fair plus an eclectic series of 16mm film projections, courtesy of Perth’s Revelation Film Festival director, Richard Sowada. For Stuart Simpson, the end result is enticingly simple. “To (create the) perfect place to meet, buy, swap, and sell with other collectors and film makers,” he says, “and have a drink or two as well.”



SCREEN-SPACE got the jump on some of the Sydney Film Festival’s big drawcards at Cannes, so no Julietta, Aquarius or Personal Shopper amongst this lot, however deserving. The vastness of the 2016 programme nonetheless ensures there were many special cinematic moments worth celebrating. Oh, and one that had us cringing. With the Festival winding down to Sunday's Closing Night screening of Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we line up (in no order) the frames of film that lingered longest in the memory (SPOILER WARNING)…

‘The Not-So-Nice Guys’ in WAR ON EVERYONE
Writer-director John Michael McDonagh aced it with The Guard and Calvary, thoroughly earning this shot at the all-American ‘buddy cop’ genre pic. He winningly transplants his brand of rhythmic Brit banter and whip-smart in-jokes to the dusty New Mexican setting; Michael Pena and an unhinged Alexander Skarsgård (pictured, above) are the riotous, R-rated double act that we all hoped Crowe and Gosling were going to be in that other buddy pic. So many memorable moments; we’ll go with the African-American snitch that decides that Iceland, the whitest country on Earth, is a good place to hide.

‘Janis’ School Reunion’ in JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUES
Janis Joplin had fled her smalltown life, the victim of callous bullying by her school peers. When she guests on the Dick Cavett show, she flippantly tells an enormous television audience she is heading home for her high school reunion. A media frenzy, 70’s style, ensues, capturing both her defiance and discomfort with vivid acuity. Amy Berg’s best film ever is full of extraordinary moments culled from the songstress’ life, none more insightful than her return to the high school hellhole that drove her away.

‘Weiner Does it Again’ in WEINER
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s fly-on-the-wall account of the New York politician’s professional self-immolation moves at cracking pace from the first frame, capturing the momentum of a career public servant fast-tracking himself to the upper echelons of New York society. Then, with one dick-pic scandal behind him, another breaks and the house-of-cards resurrection he and his team had accomplished comes crashing down. It is train-wreck documentary gold, and plays out as such in this teeth-gnawingly entertaining film.


That Song’ in TONI ERDMANN
Maren Ade’s 162-minute black comedy masterpiece (that we missed in Cannes, despite it being the festival’s best reviewed film) skates by on an emotional razor’s edge of anxiety and embarrassment. How to release crucial audience pressure as the narrative veers towards excruciating humiliation? Have your incognito anti-hero, ‘Toni Erdmann’ (the wonderful Peter Simonischek) accompany his put-upon daughter (a near-perfect Sandra Huller) in an impromptu rendition of a classic 80’s power ballad. The sequence is as hilarious and empowering as any on-screen moment this year.

The great German auteur Doris Dorrie took her two leads – stunning countrywoman Rosalie Thomass and enigmatic Japanese actress Kaori Momoi – deep into the devastated Fukushima landscape for this moving story of grief, friendship and forgiveness. The impact of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown is beyond horrific, as was captured in the line, “The ghosts still can’t believe they’re dead.” The words, spoken nonchalantly by Momoi’s grieving Satomi when she learns of the spirits that materialise while she sleeps, echoed silently in the cavernous State Theatre; they convey both the terrifying suddenness and immense scale of one of the worst tragedies in human history.

‘Mermaid Vagina’ in THE LURE
Frankly, there are about 50 remarkable moments we could have selected from Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska’s insane vampire-mermaid-musical, a sort of Rocky Horror Show-meets-Showgirls-meets-Splash concoction that is unlike anything Australian audiences have seen….well, ever. When sultry siren Silver (Marta Mazurek) wants to seduce bass player Mietek (Jakub Giierszal), she reveals to him exactly where on her huge tail he needs to concentrate. Yeah, that’s right…

‘Ragin’ Mel’ in BLOOD FATHER
Young moviegoers view Mel Gibson as an old Hollywood ‘boogeyman’, his real life anger issues far more defining than the two decades he spent as one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Those of us who prefer to recall his edge-of-insanity onscreen moments in Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, Hamlet, Ransom, Braveheart and Payback were thrilled to see ‘Meltdown Mel’ back in full-force in Jean-François Richet’s dad-and-daughter road movie. As he unloads a verbal tirade on a double-crossing Michael Parks, Gibson taps into the true nature of madness and desperation; stare into the actor’s eyes at these moments, I dare you.

‘The Old Man at the Bedroom Door’ in UNDER THE SHADOW
Iran’s first foray in the horror genre is a claustrophobic haunted-apartment yarn that works ancient Djinn demonology into the modern life of a young Tehran family. With her medico husband is called into active duty, young mum Shideh (Narges Rashidi) must care for her increasingly anxious daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), who has formed an unhealthy, perhaps unholy alliance with a presence in their apartment. The extent of their troubles is revealed in one particularly bone-chilling moment, when the deceased old man from upstairs appears in their bedroom doorway at night. In a display of precise unity, the audience at the sold-out ‘Freak Me Out’ session lifted off their seats as one.

‘The Old Man at the Film Archives’ in A FLICKERING TRUTH
New Zealand documentarian Pietra Brettkelly embedded herself in Kabul to capture the film archival efforts of Ibrahim Arify and his team, who endeavour to save the remaining spools of Afghanistan film history. In addition to a powerful story of determination in the face of a regime’s destructive cultural redefinition, Brettkelly discovered Isaaq Yousif, the self-appointed keeper of the Archives who had lived in the building for 30 years. Ageing and frail, Yousif lead a shut-in’s life through the worst years of the Taliban’s rule, determined to preserve what he could of the region’s cinematic heritage. The old man’s narrative may be the greatest heroic arc of any at this year’s festival.

‘A Little Girl’s Tears’ in UNDER THE SUN
Russian director Vitaly Mansky gained unprecedented access into the life of a seemingly normal Pyongyang family. What is revealed is how meticulously staged all the ‘normal’ moments really were. At the centre of the film is 8 year-old Zin-mi, whose transformation from spirited, smiling sweetie into a confused, indoctrinated cog in the DPRK ideology is heart-breaking. Mansky’s devastating final frames capture a little girl consumed by the pressures of adhering to Kim Jong-un’s dictatorial rule. Zin-mi weeps despite herself; when an off-screen voice demands she finds happy thoughts to quell her tears, she can find none. Instead, she summons politicised rhetoric, like the good citizen into which she has been moulded.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Two incredible shorts that left indelible impressions – Axel Danielsen and Maximilien van Aertryck’s high-dive tummy-tightener, Ten Meter Tower; and, the nightmarish Id-on-the-rampage vision, Manoman, from Simon Cartwright.

And the worst moment of 63rd Sydney Film Festival…

‘Dead Deer Ukulele Eulogy’ from COCONUT HERO
The Sydney Film Festival programmers love the ‘Sundance Film,’ the feel-good, sentimental yarn wrapped in an indie aesthetic made popular at the Redford’s Utah love-in. At best, they look like Little Miss Sunshine (SFF, 2006), but in recent years they have found a just-ok middle ground (The Way Way Back, SFF 2013; Liberal Arts, SFF 2012). In 2016, the ‘Sundance Film’ parodied itself with Florian Cossen’s insufferable millennial navel-gazer Coconut Hero, in which outsider dullard Mike (Alex Ozerov) mumbles through a worthless existential non-crisis. A road trip with man-saviour caricature Miranda (Bea Santos) turns bad when they hit a deer; things get worse (for the deer and the audience) when the pair take out a ukulele and giggle their way through an improvised musical farewell – over the dying animal. Hipster disconnect from real-world emotion in favour of indulging one’s own unique (read: self-centred) perspective has never been so clearly articulated, though one doubts that was the filmmaker’s intention.



Becoming the biggest teenage movie star in the world came at a price for Kristen Stewart. As the star of the most succesful YA franchise in film history, her every movement, every word and every romance (notably with co-star Robert Pattinson) was media fodder. Her often surly public persona masked a general distaste for the level of celebrity she had obtained. So, when planning a post-Twilight career, fame and fortune were inconsequential; instead, the indie world and international cinema beckoned.

Her potential for greatness was glimpsed in commercial non-starters shot between Twilight chapters (Adventureland; The Runaways, On The Road). Early Oscar buzz for Peter Sattler’s 2014 Guantanamo Bay drama Camp X-Ray failed to bolster the  box office for the Sundance hit, though praise was unamnimous for the leading lady (“Stewart is riveting,” said Variety). It would be her performance in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria that firmed her as a world class talent; as Juliette Binoche’s wise PA, Stewart won the Cesar for Best Supporting Actress – the first time an American actress has taken home a ‘French Oscar’. She shared some intense scenes opposite Julianne Moore in Still Alice and shone in a quality ensemble (Corey Stoll, Sam Waterson, Glenn Close, Gretchen Moll) in Tim Blake Nelson’s little-seen campus crime drama, Anesthesia.

2016 may prove to be the defining year in the re-emergence of Kristen Stewart. She hasn’t opened a film since the 2012 global hit Snow White and The Huntsman, and has suffered the ignominy of a box office bomb with American Ultra. But she wowed opening night audiences at  Cannes 2016 opposite Jesse Eisenberg in Woody Allen’s Café Society. It was the first of five diverse films that will snake out globally in the months ahead, each with the potential to strengthen her crown as the #1 International Movie Star of her generation. (Pictured, right; Stewart and Eisenberg in Cafe Society)

EQUALS (Dir: Drake Doremus / U.S.A.; 101 mins)
Stewart plays Nia opposite Nicholas Hoult’s Silas, two lovers in a Utopian future metropolis whose secret feelings for each other fly in the face of the repressed, emotion-free world of tomorrow. Romance and genre have been kind to the actress, though early buzz suggest some style-over-substance issues affect indie-kid Doremus’ first major work. Each generation have their own Logan’s Run or Gattaca, films that don’t usually break box office records but tend to develop an adoring fanbase. Launches May 26 in the U.S.

PERSONAL SHOPPER (Dir: Olivier Assayas / France, Belgium; 101 mins)
Reteaming with her Clouds of Sils Maria director, Stewart appears in almost every frame of Olivier Assayas’ strange, startling supernatural drama/stalker thriller. As the PA to a spoilt-brat super model who shops for her employer by day and channels the spirit of her dead twin by night, Stewart is fearless on-screen, energising a character arc that takes in such extremes as horror, grief and sexuality. The recent Cannes premiere got wildly diverse reactions from the world’s press, though none questioned Stewart’s ability to plumb emotional depths. French season starts October 9; will test Stewart’s pulling power outside the director’s homeland.

CERTAIN WOMEN (Dir: Kelly Reichardt / U.S.A.; 107 mins)
Stewart joins Michelle Williams and Laura Dern in Kelly Reichardt’s three-hander about tough, independent women in smalltown America. Arthouse audiences and festival crowds know Kelly Reichardt’s name, but she is a determinedly non-commercial filmmaker; despite critical raves, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves stayed firmly niche. Working with Reichardt means Stewart is furthering her craft and credibility which, if positive press and award season support come the film’s way, may breakout and further strengthen her box office status. She also gets to play a gay character for the first time, reflecting an aspect of her private life about which much has been speculated and which she neither confirms nor denies.

Landing in time for serious Oscar consideration is Ang Lee’s latest, a stunning anti-war work taken from the best-selling novel. Some left-field casting (Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker) and a hi-tech frame-rate will be talking points, but all eyes will be on Stewart. As the sister of returning soldier Billy Lynn, she will be carrying intense scenes with newbie Joe Alwyn in his debut film. If she nails a part that is crucial to the narrative’s emotional impact, her Cesar may have an Oscar be its side. Opens November 11 Stateside.



On May 11, Woody Allen will make history when his latest work, Café Society, has its World Premiere as the Opening Night film of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. It will be the third feature from the revered director to debut in the prestigious slot – the first time that a filmmaker has earned that honour. For the 80 year-old New Yorker, it is the latest declaration of respect and admiration from the event that has feted his work for over three decades…

MANHATTAN debuts in 1979
Like the rest of the cinema-going world, French cinephiles warmed to Allen as a true auteur in the wake of his blockbuster hit, Annie Hall. His early comedies Sleeper and Love and Death had played well to Euro audiences, but it was the 1977 Best Picture Oscar winner that put him on the map; a huge French hit, it would be nominated for the Foreign Film Cesar. When it was announced his follow-up would be a cinematic love letter to The Big Apple, interest from the Cannes Film Festival organisers was piqued. Manhattan opened in the US on April 25 to positive reviews and audience favour; a fortnight later, it had its international premiere Out of Competition at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival. Despite the reclusive Allen’s decision not to attend the screening (actress Mariel Hemingway represented), it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Cannes and Woody. The Cesar voting body said thank you by honouring Manhattan with the Best Foreign Film trophy. (Pictured, right; Mariel Hemingway in Cannes, 1979)

(Above: Woody Allen and Mia Farrow in Broadway Danny Rose)

Allen’s cinematic fortune ebbed and flowed in the following years. Stardust Memories (1980) divided critics; A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy (1982) was considered a trifle; Zelig (1983) restored his critical lustre but only posted arthouse numbers. The resurgent career impetus that Allen would enjoy for the remainder of the 1980’s began when the 1984 Cannes Film Festival programmed out-of-competition the Oscar-nominated Broadway Danny Rose (the slot resonated with Allen, as it put him in the company of his film idol, Ingmar Bergman, who was presenting After the Rehearsal). Featuring a brilliant comic turn by then-wife Mia Farrow, Broadway Danny Rose was the first on Allen’s ‘Americana’ films, works that embraced the melancholy of show business’ early days, and the Cannes crowd loved them. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) would win the coveted FIPRESCI Prize at the 1985 event; Radio Days (1987) screened Out of Competition in 1987. Allen’s first taste of Opening Night prestige was 1989’s New York Stories, an omnibus film that featured Allen’s ‘Oedipus Wrecks’ short alongside contributions by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola; the film garnered a mixed reaction and would be the last of Woody Allen’s film on the Croisette for over a decade.  

HOLLYWOOD ENDING opens the 2002 Cannes Films Festival.
Cannes gave Woody some breathing space throughout the 1990’s, a decade that featured some of his most revered works (Husbands and Wives, 1992; Bullets Over Broadway, 1994; Mighty Aphrodite, 1995; Sweet and Lowdown, 1999). It would not be until 2002 that Cannes rekindled the love affair when they afforded his contemporary LA-set comedy, Hollywood Ending, his first solo Opening Night red-carpet rollout. In hindsight, the film seems an odd choice; it is not regarded as one of Allen’s best and represents, alongside 2003’s Anything Else, what many consider a low point in the filmmaker’s output. But the coverage provided in the world’s press, trumpeting the appearance of Allen in Cannes for the first time in his long career, was pure showbiz and entirely in line with the A-list event glamour one expects from the Cannes Film Festival. (Pictured, right; Co-stars Tiffani Thiessen and Debra Messing accompany Allen and wife Soon-Yi at the Cannes 2002 premiere of Hollywood Ending).

The director sensed that true creative freedom and an enriched appreciation of his work were best explored in Europe (much of his funding had been sourced from continental backers in recent years). Despite the occasional sojourn to his homeland (the underappreciated Melinda and Melinda, 2004; Whatever Works, 2009), the 2000s brought a re-energised Allen back to the critical and commercial forefront with three European-lensed films that played to adoring Cannes audiences. In 2005, his potent London-set thriller Match Point played Out of Competition, the ecstatic response paving the way for his best box-office performer in 20 years; in 2008, the erotically-charged Vicky Christina Barcelona set the Croisette ablaze, premiering at Cannes ahead of a US$100million worldwide gross and a Supporting Actress Oscar for Penelope Cruz; and, in 2010, Allen returned to London, this time with Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin, for the whimsical drama, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, premiering Out of Competition. It was a prolific period of production that saw the director at the height of his craft, offering a run of films that culminated in Allen’s second Opening Night honour…

(Above: Allen at the You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger press conference, Cannes 2010)

Cannes organisers knew Allen’s 41st film was something special when they secured it for the 64th edition’s May 11 Opening Night slot in 2011. The Festival broke with tradition and opened the event to both industry types and the general public. It was a coup for Allen’s French distributor, who put the film into day-and-date national release, ensuring massive media coverage. The director jumped on board the promotional juggernaut, bringing to the Croisette his stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody and local starlet Lea Seydoux. And critics were unanimous; Midnight in Paris was Woody Allen’s best work in years, the time-hopping romantic fantasy ultimately earning Allen the Best Original Screenplay Oscar (from the pic’s four nomination). Robert Weide’s Woody Allen: A Documentary would follow in 2012, and the director himself would return in 2015 with his Emma Stone/Joaquin Phoenix starrer, Irrational Man, but the rapturous Midnight in Paris soiree remains the night to remember from the Cannes Film Festival’s long and affectionate romance with Woody Allen. (Pictured, right; Allen with his Midnight in Paris cast, Cannes 2011).

The 69th Festival International du Film de Cannes will launch with a screening of Woody Allen’s new film, Café Society, on Wednesday 11 May in the Palais des Festivals’s Grand Théâtre Lumière as an Official Selection Out of Competition title.

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