Film Scouts Diaries

1999 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Diary #6

by Henri Béhar

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic -Saturday, July 10, 1999

Rushing out of the Embassies Restaurant after dinner with juror Dan Fainaru and his wife-and-colleague-journalist Edna, I bump into a man walking in the street with his wife and a couple of friends. Double-take: the man is Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic; the (pretty) woman is the First Lady, and the friends include two bodyguards and Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov whose Barber of Siberia was just screened in the presence of. "Hello!" I say; "Hello!", he replies. Not exactly the richest conversation, but it's nice to see a head of state simply walking in the street with no major fuss. Nice also that see a head of state attend a cultural event for the pleasure of it and not because he is on the campaign trail... Later on, at the closing night party, they will forsake the VIP enclosure and spend the entire evening with le riff et le raff - e.g. us.

In town for Stephen Frears' Hi-Lo Country and Ron Howard's EdTV, Woody Harrelson wears hemp-made clothes and hemp-made sandals at his press conference (he is a staunch environmentalist and a fierce defender of the use of hemp in the textile industry). He answers the usual questions and says he owes his career... "to Elvis Presley, actually." When he was a kid, he says, he was the cutup of the 'hood, and on a bet, once stood on a table and did a dead-on imitation of Elvis. At which point, he stands up and breaks into a smashing rendition of I'm All Shook Up. Then someone named "Robyn Rodgers, with whom I then had an affair", pushed him into approaching acting as a profession. Bless you, Robyn, wherever you are. Note: come this fall, he's going to do The Rainmaker on Broadway, taking over the role that Burt Lancaster so wonderfully played in the film.

At his press conference, director John Landis was surprised nobody asked him a question about his new film, Susan's Plan, a wacky murder-comedy starring Nastassia Kinksi, Billy Zane, Michael Biehn, Rob Schneider and Lara Flynn Boyle. The reason was simple: the film hadn't been screened yet... Anyway, here are a couple of excerpts from his press conference.

Studios, then and now. "When did the first Blues Brothers, Hollywood studios still existed, with their various departments: costumes, production design, etc. And there were eleven major studios. Now, there are only eight, and they're just banks. Banks and distributors."

On his National Lampoon's Animal House "fathering" the Ace Venturas, Austin Powers and today's "silly" comedies. "If you like them, I'll take the credit. If not, I'll deny everything. (...) For studio executives, Animal House is now, eek!, a 'classic'. I am amazed, when people discuss Jim Carrey, and particularly when critics write about (such) comedies. I think, 'Haven't they ever heard of Jerry Lewis? And Steve Martin? Not to mention Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, WC Fields and Buster Keaton?' "

On working with Michael Jackson - twice. "The difference is, on Thriller, he was working for me. On Black and White, I was working for him. I had to flesh out his vision. And his vision is insane! But he's hugely talented, and a hugely likable person."

On taboos in films. "Child abuse." (Pause). "But then when I think of W.C. Fields kicking the brat across the room... " (Another pause.) "No, there are no taboos. There's only a right way to deal with them."

Previous Installment | Next Installment

Back to Karlovy Vary 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.