LYON — The 11th Lumière Festival in Lyon, France, opened on Saturday with a celebration of its 10-year anniversary, a tribute to past Lumière Award recipients, and rousing standing ovations for Frances McDormand and Donald Sutherland, who are among the high-profile actors and filmmakers being feted this year.
Dedicated to heritage cinema, the festival was established in 2009 by Thierry Frémaux and Bertrand Tavernier, the Institut Lumière’s respective director and president.
Looking back at its decade-long history, the ceremony, held in Lyon’s cavernous Halle Tony Garnier concert hall, presented clips of all Lumière Award recipients, beginning with Clint Eastwood, who was the first person to receive the prize, followed by Miloš Forman, Gérard Depardieu, Ken Loach, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Deneuve, Wong Kar-wai and Jane Fonda.
Praising Fonda for her activism, Frémaux informed the audience of the actress’ arrest on Friday outside the U.S. Capitol, eliciting thunderous applause from the estimated 5,000 people in attendance – in support of the actress.
This year the fest is presenting the Lumière Award to Francis Ford Coppola.
Also on hand for the opening ceremony were such luminaries as Daniel Auteuil, who is also being feted at this year’s fest, Doria Tillier, Nicolas Bedos, Xavier Dolan, Luc Dardenne, Lambert Wilson, Barbet Schroeder, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Danièle Thompson, Emmanuelle Devos and Tonie Marshall.
The ceremony capped off with a screening of Bedos’ romantic comedy and recent Cannes screener “La Belle Époque,” starring Auteuil and Tillier, about an aging, jaded cartoonist who rediscovers love.
Speaking after the screening, Auteuil compared his career to “a carousel that comes around and goes around,” similar to how stardom shines bright only to fade but brighten once again with new works.
Commenting on this year’s lineup, Tavernier said: “You are going to see some early films and have extraordinary surprises. Some of these films will illuminate your lives.”
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the festival is screening a selection of masterpieces that have left their mark on the history of cinema, including Fritz Lang’s “M,” Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane,” Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game,” John Ford’s “Stagecoach” and Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story.”
Also unspooling is a restored, French-language version of Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz” as well as John Huston’s 1975 classic “The Man Who Would Be King,” starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as former British soldiers in 19th-century British India seeking fortune and glory in faraway lands.
Special showcases this year include a retrospective of the works of French director André Cayatte, whose films centered on themes of injustice and social problems. His 1952 anti-capital punishment drama “We Are All Murderers” kicked off the festival early Saturday.
Another showcase, titled “Forbidden Hollywood: Warner Treasures,” offers a look at early works shot before the 1934 Hays Code that censored U.S. films containing sexuality, violence or “moral indecency.” Between the advent of talkies and the Hays Code, Hollywood enjoyed several years of unchained freedom, with films broaching sex, interracial relationships and homosexuality with what looks even by today’s standards like an extraordinary openess.
Among the 10 selected films are Victor Fleming’s “Red Dust,” an erotic drama set in Indochina starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow that follows a love triangle between a plantation manager, the wife of his friend and a friendly prostitute with magnetic charm; and Alfred E. Green’s “Baby Face,” starring Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who, after being sexually exploited by her father, climbs the corporate ladder of a bank using men as her stepping stones to reach the top.
In addition to a Coppola retrospective that includes the 4K restoration of “Apocalypse Now,” “The Godfather” trilogy, “Rumble Fish” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” the festival is also premiering Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film “The Irishman.”