James Gray Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival won’t be sending director James Gray a nice Edible Arrangement anytime soon. The We Own the Night and Lost City of Z filmmaker has some harsh words for the fest, claiming that the folks running Cannes are stuck in the past, and “protectors of the status quo.” The filmmaker also offered an update on his sci-fi film Ad Astra, which stars Brad Pitt and Ruth Negga – a film Gray is determined to take his time working on.

I’m a big fan of James Gray’s work, but I also know he tends to operate on the fringes. Gray may be a well-known name with film nerds, but it’s probably safe to say that most casual film goers have never heard of him – even if they’ve seen one of his films. Part of the reason Gray remains such an outsider is that he doesn’t like to compromise with his work. He also isn’t the best at the PR game, as some recent comments prove.

While speaking at the Marrakech Film Festival (via Variety), Gray didn’t hold back when talking about the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Gray’s fantastic drama The Immigrant debuted at Cannes, and his experience at the fest clearly left a bad taste in his mouth. “The critical establishment (of Cannes) is stuck in 1968,” Gray said. “They are protectors of the status quo.” Gray went on to add: “The Immigrant was different from the all the other movies in competition that year. I’m not saying The Immigrant is good, but it was me trying to do Puccini in a field where they were all trying to still do 1968.”

Gray didn’t seem to be too keen on film festivals in general, going on to say: “I think people mistake form for content…That’s a problem with these festivals. They want something on a surface taking big risks.”

As for Gray’s movies, his next project is the sci-fi film Ad Astra, about a man journeying “across a lawless solar system to find his missing father – a renegade scientist who poses a threat to humanity.” Ad Astra stars Brad Pitt, Ruth Negga and Tommy Lee Jones, and for a while, many thought the movie would be part of this year’s awards season. However, it was recently revealed Ad Astra had been pushed back to May 2019. And with good reason: Gray said he’s “far from finished”, and that he has over 600 shots to review. “I’ve been very insistent because I didn’t want to be up against a release date,” Gray said.

Whenever Ad Astra arrives, one thing’s for sure: you probably shouldn’t expect to see it playing at the Cannes Film Festival.

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