Art And Culture

Cast of ‘Everybody Knows’ and Farhadi Meet the Press

Farhadi: Human beings are not different depending on the culture when it comes to emotion… love, hatred, and anger are feelings we find in all four corners of the world, which show how close we all are in fact
Asghar Farhadi (R) and Javier Bardem at the press conference on May 9.Asghar Farhadi (R) and Javier Bardem at the press conference on May 9.

That is the way Cannes is supposed to go: Debut your film on opening night at Cannes, sell it to Focus Features overnight, launch well in theaters in France, and meet cheers at the press conference the following day.

Asghar Farhadi has done so with his Spanish language kidnap thriller “Everybody Knows,” in which Spanish couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and Argentinean actor Ricardo Darin star.

At the Wednesday press conference, the Spanish stars thanked their Iranian director, whose films have won two foreign-language Oscars (A Separation and The Salesman), for his hard work, attention to detail, and ability to listen and observe, Indiewire reported.

“He has a lie detector,” said Cruz, who saw the film for the first time last night and also shared that she and Bardem accepted equal pay for the work.

“He sees through everything… he’s a wonderful observer… he was like a sponge in the way people live and people talk. How can he identify when we make a mistake in one line? He doesn’t have control over the language, he doesn’t sleep, he was memorizing all of our dialogues. He remembers all of our lines. You could never trick him or fool him. He was open to discussion, involved in every single thing,” she added.

For his part, this is Farhadi’s third film in Cannes competition after his France’s “The Past” (2013), and Iran’s “The Salesman” (2016); for the latter he won Cannes best screenplay award.

While exploring another foreign language and culture was again a challenge, said Farhadi, “I focused always on what was in common… human beings are not different depending on the culture when it comes to emotion… love, hatred, and anger are feelings we find in all four corners of the world. It’s just the means of expression that vary, which show how close we all are in fact.”

Farhadi’s priority, he said, “is to make more films in Iran,” and to have “Everybody Knows” screen for the public there: “I don’t know if it will be able to be screened without being edited differently. I hope it will be successful. People in Iran sent me positive messages when the festival opened with my film.”

 Supporting Compatriot Filmmaker

As the press conference drew to a close Farhadi announced he wanted to make a statement and it was about the other Iranian filmmaker with a movie in competition, The Playlist reported.

 “This is a special year. There are two Iranians films [at the festival]. There is another film in competition by Jafar Panahi,” he said.

The director was talking about Panahi’s “Three Faces” which is in the festival’s lineup. “I spoke to him yesterday and I have great respect for his work and I continue to hope he will be able to come,” he added. Panahi has not been allowed by Iranian officials to leave the country due to political reasons.

“I think there is still time and I would like to send out this message. I hope the decision will be taken to allow him to come. He’s won a lot of prizes. What is important for him is not to catch a plane but to see how spectators see his film,” Farhadi stressed.

The premiere of “Three Faces” is scheduled for May 12. “I do have great hope he’ll be able to come; it’s a very strange feeling to be able to be here as he cannot be here,” Farhadi concluded.

 Awards Prospects

Actors in Farhadi’s previous Cannes contenders have won awards for their performances. Argentine, French actress Bérénice Bejo won the best actress award for “The Past” in 2013 and Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini grabbed the best actor award for “The Salesman” in 2016.

Now, according to the rave reviews by various critics who have admired Cruz Bardem’s powerful performances in Everybody Knows, they have awards prospects at this year’s Cannes too. Cruz has won an Oscar for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” while Bardem won it for “No Country for Old Men”. Bardem has already taken home Cannes’ best actor for “Biutiful” as well.

Focus Features won a late night auction for Everybody Knows on May 8 after it was premiered at Cannes. Focus will distribute in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, select Asian territories and the Middle East, apart from Iran. Focus had previously acquired rights in Spain last year. Multiple bidders chased the film, including Netflix. Part of the appeal for Focus Features was its potential for Hispanic audiences. Focus Features LLC is an American film production and distribution company, owned by Comcast through Universal Pictures.

“Asghar is a world-class filmmaker whose work transcends language,” said Focus chairman Peter Kujawski. “Matching his talents with these emotionally charged performances from Penelope, Javier and Ricardo will leave audiences captivated.”  The film was released on May 9 in France in 430 theaters. It did 30,000 admissions and $250,000 box office business, which is a rousing start.

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