Cannes 2008: Indigenous Co-Productions, the Studios and the Future of International Cinema

05/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sitting at the American Pavillon in Cannes, I realize that very few of the people here are speaking English. The same goes for the beach terrace at the Majestic, the lobby of the Martinez and inside the Palais itself. The Opening Night statement, made by French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann -- whose film Shoah is a moving masterpiece -- that cinema unites us, is more true than ever before.

The money at Cannes this year is not speaking with an American accent either. The sinking dollar has made the US a less expensive place to produce had made foreign investments appealing. The presence of Russian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Israeli fortunes is obvious. The kinds of deals being put together with the studios are reflective of what the Americans have finally learned, that you cannot simply just push American product on other countries, you must listen to them, co-produce locally, with authentic indigenous content, using stories, folktales, fairytales, images, ways of telling which people identify with -- and that means not just following the Hollywood norm.

The exciting part of this is that, just as Hollywood has influenced international cinema, now more than ever, international cinema will also be affecting Hollywood. This means we all have a lot to gain. Stereotypes will be challenged, and points of view will be able to reach larger international audiences. Socially engaged cinema is also rearing its head, with projects about poverty, metaphors in some of the films in competition which reach out to all of us to learn to better understand our fellow human beings, and an overall feeling that there is indeed a true spirit of "togetherness", from the '68 soundtracks of Serge Gainsbourg, to Soderbergh's Che-inspired two-part creation, to the reminder that forty years ago Cannes was canceled out of protest and in support of the students uproar in the Paris streets. Solidarity then, like now, feels good.

Add to this mix, the exciting future of digital distribution and how telecoms tie in and you have a recipe for a major revolution in world cinema. More to come.