Quentin Tarantino Solidifies Favored-Son Status In France As Emotional Cronies Celebrate Helmer’s Career
Reporting from Lyon:
After tonight, the Lumière Festival taking place here in Lyon might adopt the subtitle, “The Quentin Tarantino Festival of Love.” Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux and Lumière Institute president Bertrand Tavernier created this festival five years ago in the city that is the birthplace of cinema. This year, the fest gave its big Lumière Prize to Tarantino. A ceremony that lasted more than 2.5 hours was rife with song, dance, montages, and a lot of laughter mixed in with tears. This prize is “an act of admiration,” Frémaux said. “A way to tell people that we love them and to talk about their films.” He also dreams of this award being considered the ‘Nobel of Cinema’. “When we suggested Quentin Tarantino for the prize, we knew people would say he’s very young. But Albert Camus was only 44 when he won the Nobel for literature.” When Tarantino shouted at the end of the night, “Vive le cinema!,” no one in the room thought the 50-year-old was undeserving.
Tarantino blew into town unexpectedly on Monday when the fest kicked off and has been soaking it up ever since. It’s his kind of festival, stuffed with retrospectives, tributes and restored versions of Hollywood and world classics. Tonight, it was his turn to be feted. He was surrounded by friends and collaborators including longtime producers Lawrence Bender and Harvey Weinstein as well as actors from his films like Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Mélanie Laurent and Uma Thurman, who presented the award to her Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director.
Tarantino was nearly speechless when he accepted the prize at the end of the night, “I don’t really have words for how I feel right now. This may be one of the first few times that’s ever happened to me,” said the normally loquacious director. “This is just a very, very overwhelming experience,” he said.
The Amphitheater at the Lyon Palais de Congrès was packed to the rafters with 3,000 invitees – many of whom were locals who paid for the chance to celebrate Tarantino, and maybe pick up a QT-shirt specially designed for the event. Tarantino is almost god-like for French moviegoers, so it’s no surprise. I saw Pulp Fiction in a Paris movie theater on a random night in 1994 – after it had won the Palme d’Or – and have never seen an audience whoop and holler in such a way. Fast-forward to the first Kill Bill and I remember being at a premiere screening at the Grand Rex theater in Paris where the reception was just as rapturous. Tarantino had introduced the film but he also stuck around to watch.
Cannes Film Fest chief Thierry Frémaux launched the Lumière Festival in his native Lyon, France five years ago with Lumière Institute president Bertrand Tavernier. The event, which is also open to the public, is a classic movie-lover’s dream with a vast lineup of retrospectives and restored vintage titles all screening in the birthplace of cinema. In a nod to Frémaux’s deep relationshps within the industry, the fest attracts big name talent each October. Following in the footsteps of previous recipients like Clint Eastwood and Milos Forman, Quentin Tarantino is being given the Prix Lumière this year. The fest said the honor is for his body of work, his love of cinema, “the tributes he pays inside his own films to the entire mythology of the 7th art” and for “the way he’s always saying ‘Vive le cinéma!’”
After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz. Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.
As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).
Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.
As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.
It wouldn’t be Cannes without a little controversy. Four days before the event kicks off, French Feminist organization La Barbe (The Beard) has published an editorial in today’s Le Monde that laments the lack of women in the main competition. Among the signatories are Coline Serreau, director of the original French version of Three Men And A Baby, and Virginie Despentes, who directed 2000’s controversial Baise Moi. Last year saw a record 4 women in competition, including France’s Maïwenn who won the Grand Prize for Polisse. This year: 0. (Jane Campion is the only woman to ever win a Palme d’Or; that was in 1993.) The editorial reads in part: “Cannes 2012 allows Wes, Jacques, Leos, David Lee, Andrew, Matteo, Michael, John, Hong Im, Abbas, Ken, Sergei, Cristian, Yousry, Jeff, Alain, Carlos, Walter Ulrich, Thomas to show once again that men love depth in women, but only in their cleavage.” Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux responded to the editorial saying the festival will never choose a film “that doesn’t deserve it just because it’s directed by a woman.” He added that he agrees women should
Following last year’s stellar lineup (The Artist, Midnight In Paris, etc), Cannes Film Festival general delegate and artistic director Thierry Frémaux had a tough task to come up with an equally ripe selection this year. It seems he succeeded given that words being tossed around the French film biz today include “impressive” and “sumptuous.” However, he tells me he didn’t feel pressure to outdo himself. “Last year at this time no one knew, even me, that it would be considered a very good year.” He’s still going to announce another 3 or 4 titles, but he says he doesn’t even know what they are yet.
There’s a heavy presence of English-language films in this year’s vintage, but Frémaux points out that looks can be deceiving: there are features from 26 countries. He tells me, though, that he feels a renewed “presence of a certain type of American cinema that we no longer had.” It’s come back strong, he says, “but I also hope it’s a new existence for great American films on an international level.”
Below are the full lists of the Cannes Film Festival’s competition and Un Certain Regard titles as well as the special and midnight screenings and out-of-competition pics. Out of 1,779 sumitted films, 54 features ultimately made the cut. Last year there were 58, and Thierry Frémaux said he expects to add more movies in the coming weeks.
Moonrise Kingdom, dir: Wes Anderson
Rust & Bone, dir: Jacques Audiard
Holly Motors, dir: Léos Carax
Cosmopolis, dir: David Cronenberg
The Paperboy, dir: Lee Daniels
Killing Them Softly, dir: Andrew Dominik
Reality, dir: Matteo Garrone
Amour, dir: Michael Haneke
Lawless, dir: John Hillcoat
In Another Country, dir: Hong Sangsoo
Taste Of Money, dir: Im Sangsoo
Like Someone In Love, dir: Abbas Kiarostami
The Angel’s Share, dir: Ken Loach
Im Nebel, dir: Sergei Loznitsa
Beyond The Hills, dir: Cristian Mungiu
Baad El Mawkeaa, dir: Yousry Nasrallah
Mud, dir: Jeff Nichols
You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet, dir: Alain Resnais
Post Tenebras Lux, dir: Carlos Reygadas
On The Road, dir: Walter Salles
Paradis: Amour, dir: Ulrich Seidl
The Hunt, dir: Thomas Vinterberg
Thérèse Desqueyroux, dir: Claude Miller (closing film, out of competition)
Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ To Open Cannes; Lineup Includes Lee Daniels’ ‘Paperboy’, Andrew Dominik’s ‘Killing Them Softly’, John Hillcoat’s ‘Lawless’, Jeff Nichols’ ‘Mud’
UPDATE: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom will open the fest and play in competition. The competition is rife with directors hailing from English-speaking territories. As expected Lee Daniels is in with Paperboy, Andrew Dominik will be there with Killing Them Softly, John Hillcoat’s Lawless has a berth and so do David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Jeff Nichols’ Mud and The Angels’s Share from Ken Loach. Walter Salles’ English-language On The Road is locked. The full list of competition films follows:
Tomorrow morning in Paris, Cannes delegate general and artistic director Thierry Frémaux will unveil his selections for the 65th edition of the festival. He’ll offer up the official competition and Un Certain Regard titles along with special and midnight screenings. The speculation machine has been churning for over a month now, with some films hotly tipped and a bunch of question marks hanging over other titles. The selection is unlikely to be complete when Frémaux announces it — he’s got a penchant for adding titles up to the beginning of the fest and sometimes even during.
Frémaux was miffed earlier this month when a website pulled an April Fools prank publishing a list it claimed it had pulled from the official Cannes website. At the time, Frémaux maintained to me that the list wasn’t even close to being finished and that regardless it would stay locked in his head until April 19. The website ultimately owned up to its joke. Anyway, based on my intel, here’s a sampling of what may turn up when Frémaux spills tomorrow:
In a important show of solidarity, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has added to its program films directed by Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, the Iranian filmmakers who each drew six-year prison sentences (with a 20-year filmmaking banishment for Panahi) by a strict Tehran regime that charged them with “propaganda against the state.” Essentially, the men were vilified for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential election. Panahi, who won Camera d’Or honors at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival for his first film, The White Balloon, and the Golden Lion in 2000 for The Circle, was arrested again in February 2010, and sent to prison in Tehran on the dubious charge of collusion and propaganda. Filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Paul Haggis and Sean Penn, and numerous festivals and humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, have decried the harsh sentences that have cast a chill on all Iranian filmmakers.
For its part, festival organizers reveal they just got the films that were made in “semi-clandestine” conditions.