Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Diary #8 - May 13, Day 5

by Henri Béhar

May 13, 1996

CANNES -- Duelling parties, last night. "Kansas City" beach bash at the Gallion, with the whole Altman gang in attendance. Under the VIP tent, Robert Altman is chatting--and laughing--with Joel Coen (of the Coen brothers). Nice to see the older idol- and cliche-smasher in wicked complicity with the new-generation iconoclast.

Inside the restaurant, "K.C." star Miranda Richardson is trading quips with co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh. The way they laugh makes you turn around and try to spot the poor creature they just destroyed. They do it so fast, and so subtly, the only give-away is Steve Buscemi's chuckle. Very little escapes the actor-turned-director, sitting next to his wife, performance artist, and a director herself, Jo Andes.

A string of guests stop at the table to congratulate Buscemi. In town for two films as an actor (Altman's "Kansas City" and the Coen Brothers' "Fargo"), he's just presented his directorial debut, "Trees Lounge", at the Directors' Fortnight. A petite gem of a movie. Eat your heart out, Jim Jarmusch. Buscemi still amazed so many people like "Trees Lounge".

Despite the din around them, Australian producer Grant Lee and director Stephan Elliott, of "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" fame, are prepping their next movie. And not a moment too soon, guys! Elliott looks more demure than the year "Priscilla" made its mark on the Croisette, but the twinkle in his eye and the (real) tooth adorning his ring indicate he's lost nothing of his edge.

A quick hop to the "The Van" fish-and-chip party at the Cannes Beach. Hugely crowded. Gobbled some f.-and-c. (couldn't resist), bumped into Miranda Richardson *walking* back to her hotel--"It's such a lovely night!"--then headed home.


A very international day, today. Denmark and Taiwan in competition, Italy and Great-Britain --make that *Scotland*-- in various sidebars. Directed (in English) by Danish-born Lars von Trier, "Breaking the Waves" is one heck of a film. Somewhere between Carl Dreyer and Roman Polanski's "Tess", it's a melodrama, "a tale, set in Scotland, where all the characters are good, driven by the notion of Good," as von Trier (sort of) put it when he pitched the project. Considering the man had previously come up with such dark (and funny) works as "Epidemic," "Zentropa," and, more recently, "The Kingdom," one knew not to expect "Mary Poppins". Indeed, the more the characters try to do good and be virtuous, the more they bring about misery and, some would say, perversion--although von Trier is never judgmental.

The director never showed up. Agoraphobic, he never leaves Copenhagen. By telephone, he confirmed he'd tried to make it to Cannes, but when he got to the railway station, he stopped in a cold sweat and turned back.


Hou Hsiao-hsien is one of the greatest directors in the world and there is no doubt "Goodbye South, Goodbye" (in competition) is a great movie. Somehow, though, the film and I led parallel lives, as it were. Didn't connect. Will have to try again in less hectic surroundings.


Cocktail party at the Residential Hotel (just behind the Carlton). Breaking away from his jury duty, president Francis Coppola is flanked by Asian-American director Wayne Wang ("Dim Sum", "The Joy Luck Club"), Zoetrope Special Projects VP Tom Luddy and French producer Jean-Louis Piel who, now based in Hong Kong, had produced Nikita Mikhalkov's "Urga" and "Midnight Sun", as well as Zhang Yimou's "Shanghai Triad". The four men announce the creation of Chrome Dragon Films, a new production unit that will tap into the huge reservoir of directorial talents in South East Asia. With a first slate of six films, Chrome Dragon will specialize in action movies--"nobody does 'em better", says Wang. "In a way, we are bringing forward those that will succeed the John Woos and Jackie Chans."

Attending the gathering are Spike Lee, Pedro Almodovar and writer Thomas Sanchez ("Mile Zero"). Newly knighted in the (French) Order of Arts and Letters, Sanchez is seriously considering branching out into film.


"Danny Boyle's 'Trainspotting' is to drugs what Stanley Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' was to violence." With that kind of a marketing tag, no wonder the midnight screening has become the "hot" ticket in town. Not the hottest, mind you. That honor belongs to the invite to the "Trainspotting" party that starts around 2 a.m.

Time for a nap, then.

Previous Installment | Next Installment

Back to Cannes Film Festival Diaries

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.