Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000

2000 Cannes Film Festival Buzz
Many Happy Returns: Cannes 2000 Preview

by Cari Beauchamp

Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000 is presented by:

For those of us writers who return to Cannes year after year, the festival is akin to going to camp: reuniting with friends and colleagues you haven't seen for a year, living together day and night for a fortnight, tired and grumpy at the end only to find yourself a year later genuinely looking forward to being there once again. Reviewing the list of films to be screened at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival, it appears that it is becoming like camp for a group of filmmakers as well.

Returning for at least the third time in a decade are the Coen brothers (with "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"), Ken Loach (with "Bread and Roses"), Ang Lee (with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), and Lars von Trier (with "Dancer in the Dark").

The familiarity of the names reflect the choices made by Gilles Jacob, the head of the festival for the past twenty years, who announced last year that the 53rd festival would be his last. There was much talk a few months back that this was the year they would once again be reaching out to Hollywood for big studio picks, and this diplomatic mission was relegated to Jacob's much-ballyhooed "heir apparent" Olivier Barrot.

Barrot has been missing in action for the last month and the lack of big studio-backed films in competition has tongues wagging with rumors of what really happened and who will now step in to fill Jacob's programming shoes. But that's another story that will be played out over the next month, and, while the list of 23 films in competition and the eight films to be shown out of competition may not be what was expected, there are many tantalizing possibilities.

In addition to those above, John Waters returns to Cannes with his Hollywood farce "Cecil B. Demented": his "Serial Mom" screened several years back to an international audience, many of whom did not know quite how to take his humor and failed to comprehend the horrific implications of wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Yet one can assume that the subject of egomaniacal forces at work in moviemaking is a much more familiar one to Cannes audiences, and "Cecil B. Demented" (starring Stephen Dorff, Melanie Griffith and Alicia Witt) will hit home with them.

Other former Cannes habitués represented this year include Denys Arcand ("Jesus of Montreal"), who returns to Cannes with the closing night film "Stardom"; Liv Ullmann, who directed competition entry "The Faithless" (from a script by Ingmar Bergman); and James Ivory with "The Golden Bowl," starring Nick Nolte, Angelica Huston, and Uma Thurman. Swedish director Roy Anderson is back with his first film in over two decades, "Songs from the Second Floor."

The joy of Cannes remains the possibility of discovery and the exposure to international films, particularly this year from the Far and Near East, that one rarely has an opportunity to see. These days, American independent films vie for screen space once designated for foreign films, and, while it is far from a perfect selection system, Jacob's winnowing of over 600 films down to the thirty-plus films to be screened at Cannes once again dangles the lure.

And once again, I am not only drawn in, but I am looking forward to spending 10 days "caught in the web" of Cannes.

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