Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Diary #1: The Punch and Dustin Show?

by Karen Jaehne

Cannes, May 10, 1996

I got up very early to see "Secrets and Lies," Mike Leigh's film about the parent-quest. It was compelling and exciting and one of those movies that makes you glad you flew Air France, quickly becoming known as Air Jamais.

Then I went to see Dustin Hoffman, who was holding a press conference in order to tell us that Cannes is just a market. Of course, he hadn't seen any films. He'd just arrived and in his limo on the way to hold court with panting journalists, his driver had told him that Cannes has been going downhill ever since the advent of television.

So Dustin stood up in front of some 500 papparazzi and took a photo of them with his brownie. I guess that was a blow for art.

We poised our pencils waiting to see what tidbit of news Dustin was bringing from out there. He had no film here, he wasn't even one of the many thesps trying out the directing game.

No, Dustin wanted us to know that he has a production company called Punch - do they have a film at Cannes? No.

Anyway, Punch has cut a deal with a bunch of Aussies called Village Road Show that gives Punch the right to make 6 films - in which Dustin neither stars nor directs - as long as they cost less than $10 million. This contributed a great deal to the artistic ambience at Cannes, and we would like to thank Mr. Hoffman. On with the buck!

It was fun to see Dustin stand up and defend art. Then I walked along the beach worrying about the artistic monopoly of yore at Cannes and guess who I met? Fred Stipes. You don't know Fred. Everyone will soon know Fred. He's a New Yorker at Cannes for the first time who was sitting at the American pavilion saying he was looking for screenplays.

I had a mental image of screenplays flying through the air at his head. Then I had an image of dollar bills flying through the air at Dustin's head. It must be jet lag.

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