Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Diary #15 - May 20, Day 12

by Henri Béhar

May 20, 1996

CANNES -- The Festival is drawing to a close and the closing-night film, "Flirting With Disaster", has already been screened. Everyone sort of likes it, no one thinks it has the closing-night-movie sweep, a la "Dr. Zhivago" or "E.T."

At the press conference, as director David O. Russell was making the appropriate noises about independent film-making and the dedication it required from crew and actors alike, Mary Tyler Moore interjects, "We all had individual rooms" and Tea Leoni segues into, "If you gave me a million dollars, I assure you I would be just as 'committed' and 'dedicated'."

From that point on, it was a lively free-for-all as Leoni, Moore and Patricia Arquette bantered back and forth as if they were on the stage at the Improv. So what if the movie is a piffle?


Apart from Anjelica Huston and actress Charlotte Rampling (the epitome of true elegance, both), the closing night ceremony was an unqualified disaster. Unprepared, underrehearsed (to put it generously), with a dearth of ideas and rhythm that made the Oscar show look like the mother lode of telecasts. None of us understood why there were tom-toms every time the winners and their respective hosts paused in front of photographers; most of us gave up when Spain's enfant-terrible Pedro Almodovar walked on stage accompanied by what sounded like a flamenco version of "Zorba the Greek"...

Anyway, Mike Leigh's "Secrets and Lies" won the Golden Palm, Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" got the Grand Jury Award, Joel Coen ("Fargo") was deemed Best Director, Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets and Lies") was Best Actress, and, as predicted, the Best Actor award went to Daniel Auteuil in tandem with Pascal Duquenne.

The most unexpected award went to David Cronenberg's "Crash" for "its audacity", as president Coppola phrased it, revealing that the jury's decision had not been unanimous. Looking at each juror's face, one could not determine who had voted how, but David Cronenberg later quipped: "I don't know if it's any indication, but I'm the only winner Coppola hasn't kissed."

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