Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Day 3 - July 5

by Henri Béhar

Day 3 - Sunday, July 5, 1998

Michael Douglas wowed them all at his press conference yesterday. The object (or is it subject?) of a tribute here, he talks about his debuts way back when - "I used to throw up backstage before I got on. Every single time". Of spending a childhood surrounded by such friends of his father's as Frank Sinatra, of his breakthrough gig in the series "The Streets of San Francisco". Of his father who, at the age of 73 has embarked in a new career as a writer - "A new life, actually. He now studies the Talmud, he writes... Whereas others in retirement wither and lose their leaves, he is in full bloom again." On the global domination of the American film industry - "Unlike most industries where distribution is a cost, the film industry has turned distribution into a profit center." In a way, he envies European actors' mobility between cinema, theater and television - "You see, when you are a movie actor, you never take a bow." On playing villains, and why those parts are always rewarding (he got an Oscar for "Wall Street") - "It's great to play a character with no morality. It frees you up." He vaguely explains why he bowed out of pirate movie "Cutthroat Island" - "I don't look good in tights. I have skinny legs." And when someone segues onto his alleged sex addiction, he smiles and with the utmost sweetness replies: "Why don't we talk about sex in cinema? I am rather proud of my 'sex trilogy' - 'Basic Instinct', 'Fatal Attraction' and 'Disclosure'." This man must be a smashing tennis player.

It's always intriguing to observe a panel at a press conference: Who keeps their dark glasses on, who stands straight, who slouches, who bends towards the microphone, who pulls it toward them, who ignores it - such details speak volumes. Asked what they would all most focus on in their choices, one juror replies: "I'll be looking for films that deal with the human condition." Director Jerzy Skolimovski lashes back: "I don't give a damn about 'human condition ': I'll be looking for true filmmaking on the screen." Ever a diplomat, French producer-director Vera Belmont pipes in: "I'll be looking for both, of course." Hummm. Fasten your seat-belts, folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

The Festival toasts the attending filmmakers, hosting a garden party at dusk at the Golf course. Robert Forster just arrived for the presentation of "Jackie Brown" bumps into director Paul Morrissey. Meanwhile, at another table, actor Olaf Lubaszenko, star of "Sekal Must Die", (he also had a small part in "Schindler's List" - in the one scene that was shown over and over at the Academy Award ceremony), confides that his first love was not acting but soccer. "I wanted to be a football player, but my directors wanted me to act, and actually so did my football coach." Yes, he would love to be in France now for the World Cup, but duty calls and beside "Sekal", the Karlovy Vary Festival is presenting his directorial debut feature, "Making the Sting", and that's rather nerve-racking, thank you for asking.

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