Arts, Culture & Entertainment - May 17th

The Cannes Film Festival is here! Without question a highlight of the year for filmmakers and enthusiasts around the globe, the 65th Festival de Cannes was opened on Wednesday night by American director Wes Anderson who gave thanks to France for being “a country that always reserves a special place in society for cinema”. Heading the festival’s jury for feature films this year is Italian director and Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti, with the rest of the jury including the likes of Diane Kruger and Ewan McGregor. The feature films jury will be watching twenty-two films over the duration of the festival (now that’s a movie marathon). Moretti says the key to effective judging is “to watch all of the films with the same level of interest and respect” – all twenty-two of them!

Australian film The Sapphires directed by Wayne Blair is being screened, while Australian short film Yardbird directed by Michael Spiccia has been selected among ten other short films to compete for the 2012 Short Film Palme d’Or. Australian directors Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat also have films in the running, while Nicole Kidman stars in the US film The Paperboy, and Kylie Minogue acts alongside Eva Mendes in the French film Holy Motors.
The festival this year has, however, received some backlash for having no female directors selected amongst the 22 feature films competing for the coveted Palme d’Or award. French feminist group La Barbe (The Beard) published a derisive article against the festival in the Le Monde and The Guardian newspapers for their apparent exclusion of women, stating “All 22 films in the official selection were written, happy coincidence, by 22 men.”

Last year’s festival saw an unprecedented number of women in the running for the top prize. In reference to this, La Barbe’s article went on to say “Sirs, you have returned to your senses and we thank you for that…Whatever we do, we must not let young girls believe they could one day have the nerve to direct films and climb the steps of the festival palace other than on the arm of a prince charming…Women make perfect hostesses, let’s spare them the worry of managing a film crew, the tough technical challenges of a film shoot.”

But festival director Thierry Fremaux said he only chooses films because he thinks they deserve to be in the selection, and that it is not his fault that filmmaking is still predominantly “a male sport”. New Zealand director Jane Campion remains the only female director in the history of the festival to have won the Palme d’Or for her film The Piano in 1993. Criticism aside, the festival is sure to showcase amazing talent the world over, and here’s to hoping Down Under comes out on top!

While we’re talking about film, if you happen to be in Melbourne on Thursday the 29th of May you can head on over to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image Cinemas (ACMI) in Federation Square to see the Australian screening of Linotype: The FilmThe feature-length documentary is centered around the Linotype (line-o-type) casting machine, a machine that revolutionized printing and society in the same way that the internet is changing communication today. The film is set to tell the charming and emotional story of the people connected to the Linotype and how it impacted the world, as well as seeking to answer questions in relation to the Linotype’s place in society today.

Brisbane’s Galley of Modern Art is showcasing Australian contemporary female artists in its current exhibition Contemporary Australia: Women. This exhibition celebrates the diversity, energy and innovation of contemporary women artists working in Australia today. It features more than 70 new and recent works including paintings, sculptures, photography, textiles and video. The exhibition runs until the 22nd July.
Edgar Degas – Dancer sitting, leaning forward, she massages her left foot – 1881-83

Sticking to the subject of women in art, the Queensland Art Gallery is running an exclusive exhibition titled Modern Woman: Daughters & Lovers 1850 – 1918 | Drawings from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. This extensively titled exhibition features drawings from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, by artists working in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It celebrates the changing roles of women during the Belle Époque (the “Beautiful Era”, a golden-age of sorts in French history) as depicted by leading artists of the time such as Degas, Renoir, Manet and Rodin. These artists increasingly abandoned idealized representations of the female figure, and turned to women from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds, depicting them in real-life situations. This turn from tradition allows us to see French society undergoing radical transformations through their works. Running until the 24th of June, South-East Queenslanders are being treated a rare opportunity to see these infamous works first-hand. Having seen some of these works in overseas travels, I highly recommend seeing this exhibition if it piques your interest.

Love music festivals and snow? Guess what, such a combination exists!  The Perisher Snowy Mountains of Music is the only music festival in the snow, and claims the title of Australia’s “Coolest” Festival – clever. It kicks off on the 8th of June and you get to enjoy your iced-up tunes until the 11th June, with 8 on-snow venues and headliners like The Black Seeds and Brendan Gallagher.

Rough Red – picture by Graeme Morrison

Prince is making his third trip ‘down-under’ this month, with his last Australian tour occurring in 2003. His concerts have a reputation for being “flamboyant and thrilling”, focusing as much on presentation as on the music. This latest tour is a full-scale arena production using “ground breaking” technology in a complete 360-degree stage, where you can expect to hear all of his greatest hits – sounds like its living up to the flamboyant reputation!
On the fresh-music front, Florence and The Machine is also hitting our shores this month in what is sure to be one of the touring highlights of 2012. If you haven’t heard this enchanting songstress before, you should look her up – she is refreshingly unique. Girl With A Satchel's Brooke is checking out her Brisbane line-up later next week, we'll check in with her to hear all about it!

(I'm personally rather excited about this one!)
If you have a fetish for all things vintage, the Love Vintage Clothing Show & Sale is hitting Melbourne this Friday (May 18th – 20th). You can expect to find original couture fashion for women, stylish yet quirky men’s vintage fashion, fine jewellery from the 1900s onwards, hats, shoes, sunglasses, linen, lace, textiles, magazines, original art prints, sewing patterns, small collectibles like perfume bottles… the list just goes on! There will also be a line-up of demonstrations, discussions and entertainment options, plus prizes to won! (Oh, I want to be there now!). The Love Vintage show will be in Brisbane from July 13th-15th and in Sydney from September 14th – 16th.

Home-grown global children's entertainment group The Wiggles have announced that three of their four members will be retiring at the end of the year, to be replaced by three fresh faces – one who is a girl.
Twenty-one-year-old Emma Watkins has worked with the Wiggles for several years as a back-up dancer among other things, but at the end of the year she'll be pulling on the yellow skivvy and stepping forward into a new era of Wiggle history.
Emma said she was thrilled to become the Yellow Wiggle, and the first female Wiggle in the group's 21-year history (with the exception of Kylie Minogue, who was made an honorary Pink Wiggle in 2009).

The two other fresh faces belong to Lachlan Gillespie and Simon Pryce, who have also worked in background roles for the band for several years. The retiring Wiggles are Jeff Fatt (the Purple Wiggle), Murray Cook (the Red Wiggle) and Greg Page (the newly-returned Yellow Wiggle), leaving Anthony Field (the Blue Wiggle) as the only original band member continuing on.

Greg Page said that when The Wiggles asked him to return to the group last year, he was thrilled at the thought of performing with the three guys he started with 21 years ago. So when Jeff and Murray announced their decision to stop performing at the end of the year, he said he felt it was a "nice sense of closure to end my time on stage during the final tour with all the original members of the group." 

There was no talk of asking stand-in yellow wiggle Sam Moran back into the group, with a spokesman saying he had moved on to pursue a career in musical theatre. Moran took the place of Greg Page for five years after Page stood down due to a health condition. Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt sent out a big thank you to all of their 'wiggly' fans saying, "It's been a great ride in our big red car. We are really looking forward to saying farewell and having one last dance with everyone during the tour." 

The band's farewell tour will commence in Australia in November and December and will see them visit New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA.

That's all for now, folks!