Coogler at Cannes
Cannes Day 2: Coogler, Black Cinema And Cannes
by Travolta Cooper | Shadow and Act
I shared a moment yesterday on my Instagram story feed. It showed me in shock as filmmaker Ryan Coogler, his wife and the Cannes Film Festival Assistant assigned to them, casually walk right by me inside the world famous Palais Des Festivals. I’m hardly ever that star-struck anymore as I see most filmmakers and actors as colleagues in this business, but this was RYAN COOGLER, or as I’ve come to refer to him as just “Coogler.” Mr. Coogler wasn’t aware that I was filming them on my iPhone for a few seconds as they waited by the elevator, but needless to say that my #Coogler story was the most-watched and the most well received in my direct messages. Coogler, who through the course three films (The Fruitvale Station, Creed, and now, the enormously successful Black Panther) has arisen to be one of my most admired working filmmakers. Black Panther obviously doesn’t need any more praise or recognition as it is one of the best critically acclaimed films and the most commercially successful movies of 2018. Even Christopher Nolan (creator of the famed Dark Knight Trilogy) went on record saying that Coogler and Black Panther should receive Academy Award nominations. With that said, with Ava DuVernay sitting on this year’s jury, Spike Lee here in the completion and Ryan Coogler walking the grounds of the Festival, Black Cinema is right now at its most vibrant at Cannes and perhaps at its most important in the history of this festival. Black Cinema is lit.
So why is Ryan Coogler here at Cannes? He’s here for a “Master Class” talk that he’ll be doing today at the festival by the time you’re reading this. He joins Christopher Nolan (who speaks on may 12th), John Travolta (May 16th), and Gary Oldman (May 18th) who will also be conducting this masterclass series to Festival attendees. Mr. Coogler, in Cannes’ eyes, represents some of the finest filmmaking (black and otherwise) that the world has to offer. And Black Panther, in my humble opinion, now joins the top ten of greatest films of all time to come from African Diaspora. It is a piece of extraordinary work on so many levels. While I have been mostly a traveling filmmaker for the last two years, I had the great fortune and timing of being in my home country The Bahamas when Black Panther was released in February. What I witnessed felt historic. Bahamians were showing up (in record numbers) to the theatre in African dashikis and such. After the screening, I went online to see that this was happening all around the world. Black Panther by all accounts was a love letter to Africa and her diaspora. And to me, the movie felt like an event that was centuries in making. As a black man, it was reassuring. And as a filmmaker, it was beyond inspiring. It reminded me of the true power of the cinema.
I tell all my friends in the business that Cannes is a must for every filmmaker; at least once. This is my fifth year here (I came for the first time as a filmmaker with my film The Black Moses, and back every year since as a Film Journalist) and each year one of the highlights for me is seeing which films will be screened at night on the Croisette (a famous Beach here near the Festival). Last night that film, was Black Panther with Ryan Coogler in attendance sitting in the first row. Giving a speech before the movie started, Coogler called it “the coolest way” to watch the movie for him since it premiered. Mr. Coogler went on to say that he had film in Cannes’”Short Film Corner” some years ago and that this trip to France was his first time outside the United States. He then went on to say “ I really fell in love with this place. I would look out at the water and I would walk around and see everyone promoting films and dressed in their tuxedos. But I would spend most of my time right here on the beach watching the films that would play here for free”. He then added: “So this (screening on the beach) really is coming full circle for me.”
Stay tuned for more coverage from Cannes.