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Actress Jodie Foster poses during a photocall before being awarded with an honorary Palme d'Or prize, during the opening ceremony. Image Credit: Reuters

There are certain legends of cinema who function outside the laws of nature to possess a kind of beauty that defies the passage of time.

The only clue into their passing years is a steady growth in their creative talents that can only be accumulated through experience and knowledge of the craft.

The three women who the Cannes Film Festival’s Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux chose to inaugurate the 74th edition have set a benchmark with their exceptional talent and contribution to the culture and the arts.

Sophie Marceau in 'Everything Went As It Should Be'
Sophie Marceau in 'Everything Went As It Should Be' Image Credit: Supplied

Despite the shadow of COVID-19 looming over this year’s Cannes Film Festival, these women bring a certain finesse to the red carpet that few can match. American actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster, French powerhouse Sophie Marceau and actress Marion Cotillard are legends in their own right.

While Cotillard is still in the prime of her youth and exploring the depths of her acting brilliance, the creative maturity that Foster and Marceau bring can only be matched by a handful of actors around the world.

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Jodie Foster at the opening ceremony of Cannes Image Credit: AFP

Foster, who attended the Cannes opening ceremony, received the honorary Palme d’Or for Lifetime Achievement from talented director Pedro Almodovar. Elsewhere, Marceau attended the festival to promote her controversial film ‘Everything Went As It Should Be’, directed by French filmmaker Francois Ozon. who tackles the sensitive subject of euthanasia in the drama.

When Andre, 85 (performed by the veteran star Andre Dussollier) suffers a stroke, his daughter Emmanuel (Marceau) rushes to the bed of her sick, half-paralysed father in his hospital bed. The father asks Emmanuel to help him put an end to his pain and suffering by ending his life. But how can a request like this be fulfilled when it comes to you from your father?

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Marion Cotillard at Cannes Image Credit: AP

Other notable talent

However, Foster, Marceau and Cotillard are not the only women present in this edition of the Cannes Film Festival. This year, Fremaux took an exceptional step by choosing five women to stand alongside acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee and three other men to represent the international jury awarding the Palme d’Or and other festival prizes. The five jurors include: the French-Senegalese actress and writer Mati Diop, French-Canadian singer Melanie Farmer, American actress and screenwriter Maggie Gyllenhaal, French actress and director Melanie Laurent and Austrian writer and producer Jessica Hunser.

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Jury president Spike Lee, second from left, poses with jury members Maggie Gyllenhaal, from left, Melanie Laurent and Jessica Hausner at the premiere of the film 'Annette' and the opening ceremony of the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Image Credit: AP

Many women actually attend the festival, whether they are behind the camera or in front of it. Among these films is the movie ‘Civil’, which is directed by Teodora Anna Mihai, and stars Mexican theatre actress Archilla Ramirez alongside Alvaro Guerrero and other talents.

The events of the film take place in Mexico today, and we see Donna Cielo in an ordinary moment of her daily life as she performs her usual household chores, while her daughter Laura is preparing to go out and meet her boyfriend Lisandro. Cielo is watching Laura with joy and is happy that her daughter is looking forward to this meeting. A bit later, something happens that changes the life of her family.

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A still from Civil Image Credit: Supplied

“‘Civil’ tells the story of Cielo, a mother in search of her daughter, abducted by a criminal gang in Northern Mexico. As the authorities fail to offer support in the search, Cielo takes matters into her own hands. Cielo begins her own investigation and earns the trust and sympathy of Lamarque, an unconventional army lieutenant working in the region. He agrees to help Cielo in her search, because her research data could be useful to his operations as well. Cielo’s collaboration with Lamarque pulls her further into a vicious cycle of violence,” says director Mihai.

Mihai adds: “The film focuses on Cielo’s emotional rollercoaster, as she is drawn into increasingly intense and dangerous circumstances. The camera stays close, we never lose sight of her as she gradually transforms from housewife into avenging activist. As events unfold, Cielo gets closer to the truth: discovering a mass grave, obtaining official DNA analyses, confronting one of the presumed kidnappers, but corruption and apathy keep her from finding resolution. Until the end finally comes, unpredictable and uninvited.”

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A still from Civil Image Credit: Supplied

The filmmaker, who approached her film plot through real stories in Mexico, indicates 2006 as a turn point in the history of women and the young generation of this country, when “Mexico before that date was a safe country, people, travellers and women, could make trips along the country and its width, even by autostop, but things changed because of the atrocities planted by death gangs from various mafias, which made the kidnapping of the girls demanded ransom in exchange for their return to their families, as a way to increase their financial power. Young Laura and her family fall into this despicable trap...”

However, the violence imposed by the kidnappers begins to shatter when that tragedy transforms the meek Donna Cielo into a real lioness who fights to get her daughter back.