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Newsletter No. 69
Cannes Festival
1st September 1984

Cannes Film Festival: Finding the Gem


A rough draft for this newsletter was prepared this past June, but somehow or other it was never completed. I rushed off to the USA for six weeks, then spent a wonderful two weeks attending another Edinburgh Festival. The trip to America will be Newsletter No.70 and Edinburgh will be No.71 (if this sick typewriter can hold up a bit longer. (Honest, it is the typewriter, not me.)

Almost every year since 1968, I have been attending the Cannes Film Festival. (I missed in 1980 because Dick Gregory and I were attempting to prevent WW III, but that's too long a story to go into now. See Thanks for Coming! for a short version.) I don't go to Cannes because I am a 'film fan' nor because I am in 'the business'. No, I go because I am a festival-junkie. The following report is extracted from my notes.

Thursday, 10th May: Begin the day the best possible way: making ze love! Later play ping pong with Jesper and win 6 out of 9 games. Go out and collect Spring Rolls from the Vietnamese down the street for everyone to have for lunch. Telephone the Theatre de Paris in the afternoon and book 7 places for Lindsay Kemp's "Midsummer Night's Dream" for everyone in the house. I saw its opening night with Paula and it was great! I love Lindsay! A crazy letter to-day from S.Clay Wilson. He writes that he dreamed about a wild orgy here in my atelier. He also says he is preparing a large package to send to my pals in Warsaw. Late afternoon, Jack organizes chocolate and mango ice cream from Chez Bertillon. It almost causes a riot! After everyone has departed for the theatre, I decide to take the night train to Cannes. Quickly pack. Henk and Corine taxi to Gare de Lyon with me. There is one couchette left. As train pulls out, I introduce myself to Esperance (an actress) and to Xavier (an actor). Then introduce them to each other. A typical beginning.

Friday, 11th: Go straight to the Regence Hotel, my 'home' for past ten years. Warm hugs for Madame Fouquet, her son, Bernard and her daughter, Bernadette. Walk to 'The Bunker' and collect my Press Card. Then up to the Blue Bar for morning coffee. Esperance and I discover we have a friend in common: Gérard Krawczyk. He is a superb film-maker! An afternoon press screening of "Fort Saganne" for the 3,000 plus journalists. The movie features Gérard Depardieu who has a love scene with Catherine Deneuve, candidly photographed. She plays a liberated lady, pre-1914. Hot stuff. The scenes in North AfrIca are lovely. Three hours long. Still I do enjoy it. A press conference afterwards and I discover the film's producer, Albina du Boisrouvray, is as lovely as Deneuve.
I suspect the film will be a big commercial success but the "serious" critics will knock it. Catch a bit of a Hungarian film, "Blond Brothers", then go for a walk and meet Pascal Lamorisse (who once played the little boy in "The Red Baloon") and Jo Manuel, a New York film distributor. See "Breakdance" with lovely Lucinda Dickey dancing wonderfully. Dinner with Irene Teneze (who is fluent in English, Spanish, Russian and French) and Monica (from Buenos Aires and a table full of film people from Spain and Columbia. End the evening by watching a drunken fella trying in vain to push a tree. Very Samuel Beckett.

Saturday, 12th: An 8:30 screening of "Another Country", inspired by the Guy Burgess/Donald MacLean defection to communism, an emotional decision which grew out of their homosexual experiences in posh boarding school. Several layers of sexual politics. See "The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud", a silly shaggy-dog story, with one of my favorite actresses, Carol Kane, playing Dr Freud's horney wife. Then watch about 20 minutes of Ingmar Bergman's "After the Rehearsal". Too much blaa blaa blaa for me. Next "Paris Vu Par... 20 Ans Après" - five short films about life in the capital. The Chantal Akerman bit about two young girls entering Paris for the first time, without funds, but with lots of courage and spunk, is my favorite. When the lights come on in the auditorium, discover I am sitting next to our Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, but don't discuss the film with him. The film is co-produced by Frédéric Mitterrand, our President's nephew, and Jack's boss. Today is Madame Fouquet's birthday, so to the hotel to join the celebration. I feel like a member of the family. A quiet dinner sitting outside with Ed Dimendberg, a New Yorker studying cinema in Berlin. He gives me lots of tips regarding upcoming films.

Sunday, 13th: Another film everyone seems to like except me, "A Sunday in the Country", but I suppose it will win some prizes. (It does.) Next see two films from Post-Franco Spain, both strongly anti-Catholic Church. "Akelarre" deals with the Inquisition and suggests it was a tool by the State to maintain power. "Entre Tineblas" is a wild surreal Catholic order, where the Good Sisters all seem perverse in some way, shooting-up, sniffing coke, etc. Next soft-porn, French-style. "Gwendoline" - with lots of bondage and bare asses. Another giggle. Then wander into a film made in Norway entitled "Open Future". It's a winner! Set in a small village in the late 60's, it is exactly the kind of film I always like to encounter at Cannes. Directed by Svend Wam, it is a warm story about three young kids, two fellas and a sweetheart, and how they react to ideas and influences drifting in from the outside world. I love it. So does the sweet Kirsten who sits in front of me. She is from Copenhagen. We go for a drink and tell each other the story of our lives. I forget to get her address, and not sure if I gave her mine or not. Later walk toward my hotel and meet Sarah Mondale (yes, a relative). Sarah is involved with two films in the Festival. She is with two friends; Florence Loeb and Hermine Schick. They talk me into going to see "The Atomic Station", produced by a friend of mine. I have seen the film already in Paris when Ornolfur Arnason passed before Cannes with it on Betamax. Nevertheless I agree to go with them. Later we four dine in an Italian restaurant and compare notes, gossip, etc etc.

Monday, 14th: "Where the Green Ants Dream" is Werner Herzog's film about a group of Australian aborigines struggle to defend "a sacred site" against the bulldozers of a 20th century mining company. I'm sorry but I cannot get very excited about sacred sites, since everywhere is "sacred" for me. In the afternoon see "Ganga Maya" - about a fella from Paris who goes off "to find himself" in India. Ludovic Segarra directs, assisted by Sarah Mondale, and Gilles Gesweiller plays the fellow. Another 60's-type film and I love it!

Tuesday, 15th: I don't like to knock anyone's creative efforts, so I will not talk about several films I did not like. Too much violence for me. Then see "Desire", another film Sarah assists, and one in which I am an extra. An old pal, Caroline Loeb, plays. I exit after Caroline is killed. Romantic trash, but Caroline is fun. Wander into "Straight to the Heart", directed by Doris Dörrie, which begins well, but unfortunately becomes violent. Jump immediately into "Up to a Point", a film made in Cuba by Tomas Gutiérrez, a love story about a writer who wishes to make a film about "machismo". More sexual politics but ... Still to raise questions is to begin to find solutions. Another film from Germany and more sexual politics. "The Trouble with Love", directed by Helke Sander. It is the story of two women and a man, all three friends and their inability to deal with his sexual relationship with the two women. Still at least the issue is raised, even if this film offers no help or new visions. End the evening with "The Sixties: The Dream Years" from Quebec's Jean-Claude Labrecque. His memoirs are not mine.

Wednesday, 16th: A soft-porn movie, "One Night Only" is too silly for me. Next see Michael Mak's "Everlasting Love", shot in Hong Kong in Chinese with English, subtitles about an impossible love affair between a young prostitute and a medical student. Two different worlds. Another violent ending. Ugh! Another film from Spain; it turns out to be porn, "Where Have All the Men Gone". What is happening in Spain? Dubbed in American, I manage to get about half way... Decide to go to the hotel and read Barry Gifford's delightful novel, Landscape with Traveler -and find this great statement: "One could go mad thinking of the friends, the perfect lover still unmet because on a certain evening in 1953 one decided to turn down Fifth Avenue instead of going on the Seventh as originally intended." Wow! So true!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, etc etc. Lots more movies, but no more room to comment. I still sing the praise of Arnaldo Jabor's "I Love You", a film I first encountered in the "market", the least significant part of the festival, in 1982, '83, and again this year. Starring Sonia Braga, this film made in Brazil is wonderful. I have it on videocassette, so when you come to visit me, ask me about it. Now I must type No 70 & 71.

Love & hugs from Jim



Jim Haynes
September 1984

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris France




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