Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999

1999 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Days 2 through 9 (Part I: What Happened)

by Henri Béhar

Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999 is brought to you by:

CANNES, Thursday, May 20

Long silence, huh? Not for me, though. For the last week, I've been living inside a cathedral bell celebrating a semi-divine birth in the midst of a tropical rain.

At least, that's how it felt.

It had started brewing on Opening Day. I felt a mite too hot after the jury's press conference, but put it on account of riding a scooter on a very sunny day, of having too pleasant a late snack on the Long Beach, what have you. But fever? Moi? Nah! I'll take every form of aspirin I have with me, all sorts of boost-me-up stuff, sleep it off, tomorrow I'll be ship shape.

Famous last words.

Gently, but firmly, Danièle Heymann - friend, former Arts & Leisure chief-editor at French daily le Monde, and occasional Film Scout - put a digital thermometer in my hand, which I immediately stuck in my ear. 120 seconds later, the results beeped in - Temperature: 101+

That was enough to turn Heymann into the most perfect Jewish Mother. Suddenly, the fridge got stocked up with chicken soup, fruit, mineral water by the gallon and all sorts of health stuff. But therein lies her magical touch - which, en passant, reveals a cultural, philosophical divide between the French and the Americans. "Sick food" is usually pretty awful. "You're sick, therefore you're guilty," an American journalist says, "and bad food is part of the punishment. A very Protestant attitude." (The journalist is catholic.) The French see it differently: being sick is punishment enough, they'll do their best to turn "sick food" into Babette's Feast lite.

Meanwhile, I drift from sweaty slumber to sweatier catatonia, gearing up for the next film to see and the next press conference to moderate. Just leave me alone, y'all! I'm a smart guy, right? I know what to do, right? I don't need no doctor, right?

Well, I did. Eventually. As in, last night, Wednesday, May 19. The Centre Hospitalier Des Broussailles has a permanent antenna at the Palais des Festivals (one more unsung way in which this Festival works within - and with - the city whose name, after all, it bears). The doctor, a perky brunette, takes one look at me, orders a whole battery of tests, prescribes a page long of antibiotics and lets me go with one proviso: "One tiny change in temperature, one undue drop of sweat, and I want you under observation at the hospital for 24 hours. Got that, young man?"

"Young man?" Gee, when was the last time... How can you not give in!

Anyway, what follows is what stuck in my semi-delirious mind of the last six days...

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.