Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Diary #11 - May 16, Day 8

by Henri Béhar

May 16, 1996

CANNES -- It's films and computer, computer and films. The week-end starts early, with the presentation of Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty". Not too crazy about the movie itself, the entire Croisette falls in love with Liv Tyler.


Couldn't get in to see Aki Kaurismaki's "Drifting Clouds", which everyone tells me it's great. "As minimalist, and as funny, as Buster Keaton," they say. So I stayed on the beach, catching up on my diary.


The world was created in six days, so the story goes. On the seventh day, God took a break. On the eighth, he created Mongoloids ("trisomic" is the p.c. word). George (Pascal Duquenne) is Mongoloid, therefore pretends he's from Mongolia. Harry (Daniel Auteuil) is a "normal" person, read: an executive who works seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, so driven that his wife left with their kids. "The Eighth Day" by Jaco ("Toto the Hero") van Dormael is a sort of road movie, the story of a strange friendship, where thanks to the "abnormal", the "normal" sees the light.

Predictable perhaps, but the two lead actors are smashing. Duquenne is a genuine trisomic, but, as Auteuil points out, "a genuine star among his peers." Could we be heading for a dual Best Actor Award?


Anjelica Huston comes into town and shows everyone what real class is. Here to present "Bastard Out of Carolina", which she directed (her first movie as a helmer), the daughter (John) and grand-daughter (Walter) of Academy-Award winners, and an Academy-Award winner herself ("Prizzi's Honor"), meets with the press.

Based on Dorothy Allison's best seller, "Bastard..." is the powerful tale of a nine-year-old girl abused and molested by her stepfather while her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) looks the other way. Director Huston pulls no punches and spares you nothing. Unflinchingly directed, the rape scene (a titillating moment in most films) is ugly, ugly, ugly. As should be.

Surprisingly, "Bastard..." was produced by Turner Entertainement for T.N.T. Not surprisingly, the cable channel pulled out once the film was finished. It will be released theatrically throughout the world.

The usual questions were thrown at Anjelica Huston: Why that story? How does one direct a child? Why the desire to try her hand at directing -- and wasn't there a rumor she might direct a semi-documentary on her father, the legendary John Huston, to be played by no-less-legendary actor (and former boyfriend) Jack Nicholson?

"No. That would be daunting," she replied.

By the time the audience understood what "daunting" exactly meant, we were three questions later. Kissinger is but an amateur.

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