Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 5: A Day Off?

by Henri Béhar

CANNES - May 11, 1997

There was a time when, even in Cannes, Sunday was a day off. In its infinite wisdom, the Festival *knew* we'd all need a breather. So Sundays, there would be one social event some time during the day and, in the evening, one film would be screened, out of competition. A tribute, an homage. We'd never see the morning, except the bravest who'd finish the night on a mattress on the beach.

That tradition made a surprise come-back this year - and boy, did we need it after the Johnny Depp soiree at Planet Hollywood. A mob scene, complete with walkie-talkies and cellular phones ringing with increasing frenzy as Iggy Pop arrived and headed for the dimly-lit VIP room where he and Depp joined their friends and guests: directors Robert Altman, John Waters, Emir Kusturica, Pedro Almodovar, Bernardo Bertolucci, who shared champagne and prawn brochettes with Liv Tyler, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

Frenzy reached an even higher pitch when, in an almost impromptu concert, Iggy Pop broke into a super funky version of "Sister Midnight" (from his 1977 "The Idiot" album with David Bowie). Who hasn't seen Iggy Pop slowly lifting his arms like a voodoo priest or going down on all fours in a major sweat ("Fuck you! This is fucking Hollywood!"), let alone breaking a few chairs, a mike stand and a projector ain't seen nothin' yet. Suddenly it was dawn - where did the night go?

Croissants and coffee chez the baker, breakfast on the (unopened) beach, then off to bed.

How wise. A major traffic jam blocked the city for nearly two hours around noon as, leaving the campaign trail, French president Jacques Chirac came to attend a luncheon celebrating the Festival's 50th anniversary. Photo-op with jury prez Isabelle Adjani, lunch - by 3 p.m. he was gone. He was not to attend the evening's feast. He don't know wha' 'e missed.

At 7 p.m., everyone who was anyone walked up the red-carpeted stairs and took their seats in the Lumiere Theatre. And what a crowd! The entire jury was there, dressed to the nines. Johnny Depp was introduced to Sylvester Stallone, Anjelica Huston chatted with Lauren Bacall who was behaving like the warmest aunt (after all, both Ms. Bacall and Humphrey Bogart worked with John Huston), Vincent Perez sat near a shaved-headed John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons clad in a strangely Chinese attire.

After a boring ballet for dancers, mirrors and cameras by Philippe DecouflÈ, who had choreographed the opening ceremony of the Abbeville Olympic Games, Jeanne Moreau took over the stage.

"Cannes is turning 50," she said, quoting Clint Eastwood from Daniele Heymann book, "Le Roman de Cannes". "50... It's a good age. It's a terrific age. Trust me... What always struck me most [in Cannes] is the enthusiasm of people, the number of film-oriented people, that makes it a celebration of cinema. It throws you back to the time when you too were 'just' a film lover."

For the 50th anniversary, Pierre Viot and Gilles Jacob, the Festival's president and general delegate, had asked all the Golden Palm awardees to vote and give the Palm of Palms to the one director who'd never gotten the Cannes top prize but, in their opinion, should have. Asking the audience not to applaud until they were all on stage (this was not to be a popularity contest), Moreau introduced them one by one. With a few exceptions (80-some-year-old Akira Kurosawa was too tired to make the trip from Japan), all twenty-nine survivors were there: Martin Scorsese, Shoei Imamura, Francis Coppola, Robert Altman, Costa Gavras, David Lynch, the Coen brothers and the Taviani brothers, Claude Lelouch and Lakhdar Hamina, Anselmo Duarte and Bille August, Roland Joffe and Wim Wenders, Francesco Rosi, Chen Kaige, Alan Bridges, Mike Leigh, Richard Lester, Jerry Schatzberg, Emir Kusturica, Steve Soderbergh, Jane Campion, and Michelangelo Antonioni who, on opening night, had received from the hands of Vanessa Redgrave a special Palm to replace the one who'd been stolen from him.

When all were assembled on stage, Moreau turned toward the audience and said: "And now, please, a standing ovation." She didn't have to prod us further, we'd all been dying to jump to our feet and shout and applaud and whistle and hooray and thank them all for their works - without them, none of us would have been attracted to this business! "Back to the time when we were all 'just' film lovers" indeed. The ovation lasted a good twenty minutes.

Finally, Moreau confirmed what, in order to avoid stupid speculation, had been announced a few days earlier: the Palm of Palms had been awarded to Ingmar Bergman.

The Swedish auteur of "The Seventh Seal" had come to Cannes only once, in 1973, to present "Cries and Whispers". So many attended his press conference that it took place in the main theatre - a rare occurrence shared only by Francis Coppola for "Apocalypse Now" and Michael Cimino for "Heaven's Gate". Rumors had it that Bergman had accepted chairing the jury in 1980, but then he changed his mind. Now nearing 80, having stopped making films after "Fanny and Alexander" fifteen years ago, but remaining pretty active in theatre and in television, Bergman almost never leaves his tiny island of Faro.

True to self, he didn't show up. To accept the award in his stead, Moreau called Bergman's "women", actresses who had been part of his creative and personal life - "How I envied you", said Moreau as she introduced Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Lena Olin, Liv Ullmann and her daughter, Linn Ullmann Bergman who took the award and read a message from her father:

"Forgive an old man for not being with you tonight. But after years of playing with images of life and death, life has caught up with him. Now he is shy, and fragile. I humbly thank you."

After that, the screening of Wim Wenders's "The End of Violence" felt like a letdown - but then any film would have. The evening was so emotionally charged that one forgave Moreau for wearing a Galliano pant suit that made her look like a clown and could only be passable in black-and-white, before Technicolor was invented.

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.