Kanye West debuted a 26-minute film titled Cruel Summer at Cannes Wednesday night. He is credited as a writer, producer, and director on the project. Here's what you need to know about it:
- "At Cannes"
First off, the film premiered at Cannes in the same way you "went to Harvard" if you have ever walked by the campus of Harvard or "work on Wall Street" if you operate a small food cart selling warm nuts (delicious) on Wall Street. It was screened in the parking lot of a casino at Cannes, inside a big pyramid made of white fabric. While the premiere coincided with the Cannes Film Festival, it was not in competition or part of the official screenings.
- The Plot
Broadly, the dialogue-sparse Cruel Summer is about a car thief who falls in love with a blind Arabian princess. The princess' father will not allow her to marry the car thief unless he cures her blindness (perhaps through advanced ocular surgery techniques known only to car thieves – reviews have not specified). According to WWD, the plot was "inspired by the ‘Romeo & Juliet'-esque classic Middle Eastern tale ‘Antar and Abla.'" The story of Antar and Abla resembles that of Romeo and Juliet in that it involves a man and a woman who wish to get married, but that's about it.
- The Cast
Kid Cudi plays the car thief. Sarah A., a Qatari actress who, Vulture reports, "can't use her real name because it is frowned upon in Qatar for women to act" plays the princess. West met her when she was an intern at Qatar's Doha Film Institute, the organization that co-produced the project.
Aziz Ansari, Teyana Taylor (whom you may recognize from her Super Sweet 16), and Big Sean are also in it. As is Kanye West .
- The Music
People are saying the soundtrack, composed of new songs from an upcoming compilation album (also called "Cruel Summer") to be released by West's G.O.O.D. record label later this year, is the best part.
- Film vs. Experience
This was not a film. This was An Experience. A Sensory Experience, incorporating seven giant screens above, around, and below the audience, all playing simultaneously.
- Why so many screens?
For art. Other explanatory phrases thrown around (by West) include "post–Steve Jobs, post-Windows era," and "synesthesia." Sometimes the screens showed the same scene from multiple perspectives. Sometimes they acted as one all-encompassing wide screen, incorporating the ceiling and floor. According to WWD, in one scene, the protagonist "tumbled through the desert" and a screen on the ground showed a close-up of sand so that the audience could feel like they too were protagonists tumbling through the desert.
- Location, Location, Location
The movie was filmed in Qatar over four days. It took two and a half months to put together, and shooting wrapped one month ago. It will premiere in Doha, Qatar in November, after which West will bring the film to many of the world's sexiest cities.
- cf. Runaway
It's a little shorter. Also: more screens.
- Critical Response
People seem to agree that Cruel Summer both looked and sounded cool. Jay-Z told Vulture it was "amazing."
- Movie Theater Etiquette
In his post-screening speech, Kanye West revealed that he sometimes falls asleep at the theater if he's not able to talk or futz around on his phone. There are no reports of him engaging in such behavior at his own movie, though some people say they saw him dancing in his seat.
- Does Kanye West answer questions?
"I don't answer questions," said Kanye, when someone asked him a question. (They wanted to know if he wanted to be a director now.)
- Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton did not attend the premiere, because she was in a different part of Cannes. She's been going to the festival since she was three years old, though, so no big deal. Her dog was sick.