CLAIRE’S CAMERA — Review by Moira Sullivan

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Claire’s Camera was featured at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. French actress Isabelle Huppert meets South Korean actress Kim Min-hee, known for her role in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (2016 Vulcan award at Cannes). It is enough of a cinematic happening to drive South Korean director Hong Sangsoo to shoot Claire’s Camera in the environs of this festival, the most esteemed gathering for cinema achievements in the world. It took the protests at the May 1968 festival and the demands of festival critics like Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut to not only close down the festival that year but create a parallel section of films – the directors’ fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) where the reputation for auteur film was established. Rohmer’s Claire’s Knee (1970) comes to mind when viewing this contemplative impromptu film. Cannes inspires travelers, tourists and filmmakers alike to create films that capture its aura. This is Hong Sangsoo’s homage. Continue reading…

Newly fired sales assistant Man-hee (Min-hee) relates that she has been fired at a Cannes café. Man-hee’s boss doesn’t give any concrete reasons why she is letting go of one of her best workers after five years. Nevertheless, Man-hee plays with a nearby dog and takes a selfie with her boss who is not very convincing about how hard it was to let her go. We learn that her boss thinks she is dishonest.

In a chance meeting, a South Korean director with an alcohol problem meets Claire (Huppert), a teacher on holiday taking photographs. Other characters include a young filmmaker who is showing one of her short films at the festival and is staying at one of the waterfront hotels farther down the Croisette.

Claire’s Camera gives the impression that it was planned on the spot at Cannes, with shots of huge yachts that line the harbor. Azure colored waves splash on the beach facing the magnificent volcanic coastal mountain range on the other side of Cannes. Claire’s Camera appears to have been made either before or after the festival since the throngs of tourists and annual movie industry crowd do not fill the screen at any point. Instead, actresses and directors assume small parts in a low budget film during a festival that is ripe with movie history and magic.

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Moira Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is an international film critic, scholar, lecturer, promoter and experimental filmmaker based in San Francisco. She is a member of FIPRESCI (Federation of International Film Critics) and has a PhD in cinema studies. Sullivan is one of the world's experts on the work of the legendary filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961). A native of San Francisco, Sullivan wrote her doctoral thesis and subsequent publication on Maya Deren's avantgarde and ethnographic filmmaking. Sullivan has been invited to special universities and art schools honoring Maya Deren in Italy, France, Germany, Sweden and the USA. Since 1995 Sullivan has been a staff writer for Movie Magazine International, San Francisco and does weekly radio reports on film reviews, film events and festivals. She also writes from named for Agnès Varda.