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CANNES 2016 -- WRAP and Parting Shots Long detours around movable barriers.

Cannes 2016, WRAPUP and Parting Shots

      By Alex Deleon <film>

This was the year of police barricades on the Croisette, armed patrols on Rue d'Antibes, and body checks at Palais entrances, presumably to assure the crowds that they were safe from Terrorist attacks. Most festival visitors took these precautions in stride although it often entailed long tedious detours to get to important screenings or other events. 
Other than that it was business as usual, Hollywood stars galore, and an overwhelming choice of films from every corner of the globe to choose from. The weather was good, the atmosphere (mostly) jovial, and the pace frenetic. This is kind of festival one puts up with certain inconveniences because it is the biggest film show of the year and The Place to see and be seen. After all the name Croisette means "cross point" -- the place where everybody in the business crises, crosses, rubs elbows and takes selfies with celebrities.
A sampling (by no means complete) of Big names in attendance that were ogled this year on the Tapis Rouge: Woody Allen, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson (in full beard), Spielberg, Sean Penn, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Shia Laboeuf, hordes of French and international

As for the trade papers piled up everywhere around the fest with daily updates on films, events, gossip, and general film business news, Variety, once the buzziest and trendiest of all, has now become a dull read barely worth a quick scan, whereas SCREEN from U.K. and Holiday Reporter have picked up the daily slack. But the hottest daily festival coverage with the best inside stories are to be found in the French daily NICE Matin, which is so popular that it is usually sold out by noon.        

The Carlton Hotel in the middle of the Croisette is still a festival landmark but less of a VIP oasis than  it was in the past

Of the Big Three beachfront hotels, the ancient Carlton, once the absolute center of everything is still Big but getting old and creaky. The Carlton remains a Croisette landmark, but Ain't quite what she used to be -- whereas the Majestic, directly across from the Grand Palais, now hosts the big receptions and is the hot after hours get together place for celebs and VIPs.  The Martinez at the far end of the walk is also a major stop for celebrities and always has a crush of photogs in the  lobby to lens fashionably clad stars and starlets on their way out to the evening red carpet galas at the other end of the Croisette.

The beach front promenade known as "La Croisette" is, incidentally, probably the best known street in all of France next to the Champs Elysées in Paris -- well named since  it basically means "cross point", the place here everybody crosses paths with everybody else -- and the only place in the world to be in the merry month of May -- to see and be seen if you aspire to even fleeting recognition on the international cinema scene.  .


Among the best places to mingle and network between screening, and pick up the latest info on film production in various countries, is the long row of white pointed tents lining the beach all the way out into the bay for nearly half a mile, each one housing a national pavilion representing a film producing country like a United Nations fairgrounds. This year Israel has a pavilion  for the first time which I wanted to visit, however I never got past the happy hours at the Georgian, Ukrainian, and Indian pavilions.   Each one a well fueled high energy international gathering overlooking the slender beach and blue waters of the bay.  The Georgian pavilion in particular with an ultra friendly staff became a regular drop in to hang out and relieve festival stress. Really nice people. Relaxed        


A major event one afternoon at the Packed Indian pavilion was the Official announcement by Indian actress and director Bijaya Jena, from the state of Odisha (Eastern India next door to Bengal)  that she is preparing a major Franco-Indian co-production to go on the floors later this year. The story Is adapted from an Indian classic set in the British Raj in the 1940s prior to the tragic Partition which created Pakistan.  the wirking Titan is "Survival". Bijaya will direct herself in the leading feminine role as she so successfuly did in her widely acclaimed Hindi language drama "Prologue" (Abhas, 1997).  This event was covered for Indian media, amont others, by Rajesh Kumar-Singh, a well known Indian journalist and long term Cannes regular


I was advised of another upcoming international project, a new version of Hedda Gabler, by British writer/director Matthew John who was in town to party and talk the project up. The film which has had a fitful pre-release history, will star a British actress  with Iranian roots Rita Ramnani, in the title role. Hedda was played by Ingrid Bergman in an all star British TV movie back in 1962. 

I asked Mr. John what drew him to this basically theatrical project and he said that he had seen many stage versions of the famous Ibsen play, was always intrigued by the character, and felt it could appeal strongly to a new generation. John was all set for a major launch party at the grand Excelsior hotel in Venice last September but the event was canceled at the very last minute with invitations already sent out --the biggest party that never happened on the Lido last year. After some retouching Hedda was scheduled to be revealed here at the Cannes Market but was again withdrawn at the last minute for some "final retouching". Matthew says that a long delayed definitive World Premier will now be held at the Henrik Ibsen Museum in Oslo in August. Hopefully this time Hedda will get the go ahead. My own curiosity is now so piqued that I may have to squeeze in a trip to Norway if it finally happens.

Hedda Gabler, Coming Soon .....Maybe!


A touching event at Cannes 69 was the belated awarding of an honorary lifetime Palme d'or to one of the living legends of the French cinema, Jean-Pierre Léaud, now 72. Léaud made his debut at Cannes way back in 1959 as the teenage hero of Truffaut's New Wave classic, "Les 400 Coups" (a French idiom that means "raising hell"), became a ubiquitous presence in Nouvelle Vague films, and was often cast by major international directors such as Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris) and Finn Aki Kaurusmäki (I hired a paid killer) because of his off-beat non-actorial persona. The freeze frame on Léaud at the end of "400 Blows" is one of the most unforgettable images in the entire history of cinema. Reappearing in Cannes after a 58 year hiatus has got to be some kind of record.


Jean-Pierre Léaud receives a life time award Fifty eight years after "400 Coups" 


Finally it is worth mentioning that Woody Allen, who was publicly isulted on stage on opening night with an extremely clumsy joke about his private life, took that with a grain of salt when he announced the next day that he used to do the same kind of thing when he was a stand up comedian. Good sport Woody!


And before calling it a day (eleven daze) I must mention that the best film I saw all week -- and there were quite a few other good ones -- was a modest indie from Lebanon in the Semaine de la Critique section,  entitled "Tramontane" (Rebih, in Arabic). The hero (Rebih) is a blind young musician, 24, who finds out his birth certificate is a forgery and then goes on an agonizing quest beyond the mountains to find his biological father. A full review will come later. For the moment suffice it to say that the film received something like an endless standing ovation such that the director could not leave the hall for nearly half an hour following the rolling of the end credits. A name to make a note of is Armenian Lebanese director Vache Boulghourjian. 


Full moon over the Croisette ~ The festival is over -- Long Live The Festival! ~~ (Photo by Decolopez)


And the balcony is closed until next year .....