The diary of Screen Edge’s John Bentham
at The Cannes Film Festival 1996 day 1
THIS FILM IS GONNA BE GREAT !
So here we are in Cannes again for the film festival.
Six to a room is nothing, with people sleeping on every available cushion. For
the festival there are sleepers in tents, cars and on the beach. The place is
packed and the circus really has come to town. This year there is even a live
TV show, going off every day from an open sided tent on the beach opposite the
Martinez. When I clocked it the other day the French presenters looked more like
clove puppets, but I don't suppose that's unusual. Apparently Colm Meany and Stephen
Frears went down well with an interview consisting mainly of fucks and fuck right
offs. But who cares its only the French and by god they don't half know how to
For those of us
who cant take the 15 quid for a large rye and coke and the hundred quid round,
night time is much fun at two little bars, close together in the centre of town;
The Petit Carlton and The Petit Majestic (don't ask!). By the time it gets to
midnight the crowds are so big that they not only fill the pavements, but right
across the road and across the opposite pavement (aka sidewalk). This obviously
causes serious problems whenever a car comes along, nudging slowly forward until
the crowd opens and makes way. This is of course extremely annoying. With the
promise of a drink John Feldman persuaded a motor- biker to stop and park up blocking
the way. His bottle went whilst John was at the Bar. Paul hills tried next by
placing two tables and chairs in the road. One after another pissed off looking
Frenchmen would get out of his car to move them. The bar staff eventually put
a stop to that one. And then the fire eaters arrived as if on cue and took up
position. Their usual frantic display of juggling and fire- breathing followed,
which of course was ok until one of them tripped on the curb and fire-breathed
half a dozen people. Luckily it a was only quick heat and a few singes.
So maybe it was time for the 50 yard dash to The Petit Carlton. Things went
ok for a while until a rather odd looking large woman; unbelievably, yes, began
pissing herself. Two guys from Fox looked on in astonishment as 'she' pulled off
her skirt to reveal a full meat and two veg, ‘She’ then proceeded to walk around,
hosing away for fun, with everyone jumping out of the way screaming. It was the
kind of thing you wouldn't even see in a movie ! 'IT' later returned drunker than
before and immediately made a beeline for Steve Buscemi. The sight of Mr.Pink
and girlfriend being chased down the road by a fat French transvestite will live
with me forever
IT REALLY MAKES ME SMILE
it really makes me smile to see the black dinner suits out in force. Its follow
the leader as hoards of industry executives are shepherded along the Croissette
for another Gala screening. Tales of a two hour wait only to be turned away do
nothing to stop this determined behavioral change. The desire to queue and perhaps
even gape. I even heard of one instance where the suits, becoming angry at a no
show were baton charged into the road.
Unbelievable. It makes me think back to stories from the late 70's when the 'indies'
first appeared at the Midem music market, which takes place here in Cannes during
January each year. In the music world where the indies have a natural kind of
inbuilt rebellious attitude, The Gala shows at the Palais were boycotted out of
principle as the meaningless shams they were (and probably still are). I really
do just wish that this same attitude was visible in the Film business.
By god it needs it !
at The Cannes Film Festival
- GRIDLOCK ON THE CROISETTE
a public holiday today and there's gridlock on the croisette. It seems
like most of the French nation is out there, mainly gathered outside
the Carlton Hotel, standing on things, hanging off balconies or tree's
hoping to spot a star. Dear god, one wonders, how can this happen, what
can make these poor people do this. Thinking about it I guess it must
be the film business, the nature of the game and all that shit. And
whilst we're on the subject, I've wondered often how the PORN AWARDS
came to happen to coincide with the worlds most prestigious film
festival. How the biggest boat (well ocean liner) out in the bay belongs
to the 'Private' organisation, obviously one of the richest Porn companies
around. They had a party on the boat last night and I shudder to think
what it must have been like. A guy said to me, "would you go to a party
to watch two girls muff themselves off?". What do you reckon? And the
basement of the Palais building is turned into a sleaze pit, containing
dozens more companies selling film after film of this kind, never mind
the sex CD-ROM's. But there we are, so be it, as it is and all that.
here, The UK governments heritage minister is talking to producers
and the like about the best ways to spend all that
lovely lottery cash. She arrived at the Queen party early and had
to hang around till Brian May arrived to greet her (photo shot and
all that you know). After speaking out in support of Dustin Hoffmans
appeal for less violence in films, she came out of the midnight screening
of Trainspotting quoting it as "Authentic". One shakes one's head.
I've talked to people about what we need to do in the UK to revitalise
things, let make films from street level and all that, I even heard
that 10 million of the lovely lottery cash was going to be spent on
experimental and non-commercial kind of projects. But. Yeah. And heres
the big fucking BUT here. They are frightened to death to give anything
too controversial any funding in case theres an outcry that public
money is being used to produce filth. Dear god I ask you. On another
note, the Trainspotting party the other night cost nearly a quarter
of a million pounds. One sixth of the films budget has just been spent
to promote it within the industry. I could make maybe a dozen camcorder
movies with that kind of money.
But they might
be controversial !!!!
Screen Edge’s John Bentham
at The Cannes Film Festival 1996 - DAY
SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY
Well the crowds are still here. As bad as yesterday. The French national
holiday looks like its two days long and its a nightmare walking anywhere.
Its not hard to go out in the morning, march up and down, go to the
British Pavilion for messages, leave messages for some other people,
march back to the Noga Hilton, the Majestic and The Carlton. Next thing
its suddenly 6pm.
What has been achieved here. Not a lot I can tell you. Its actually
a relief to see someone you know and sit down a while for another beer.
Occasionally whilst marching along the croisette, one sees a huge circle
of photographers around something on the beach. Today my curiosity got
the better of me and there in the centre of them was a girl slowly peeling
off her clothes. I hear this happens a lot and is often some wannabe
in spurious pursuit of fame. I'm not sure the photographers all work
for the press either, most of them look like middle aged trainspotting
types to me. I suppose we'll have to be careful with this term now.
Mobile phones are everywhere, just walk down the street and there
are dozens. What are all these people talking about. Its probably
how am I going to get my next film financed. What I'm learning here
is just how difficult this is. I really find it hard to believe just
how this business does work. How much continued effort it takes and
how many different elements need to be put into place for a film to
get finance, and then keeping them all in the picture until everything
is finalised. The haggling over the stars (of course the agents are
in town) and of the importance of the stars to those with the money.
Then theres the bluff, the stories and tales that need to be told
with unbelievable enthusiasm to keep the show on the road. I suppose
there really is a difference between bullshit and outright lies.
Excuse me if I appear cynical.
GOD I'M SO TIRED
Its my last night here and I'm too tired to go out. A week like this
is an endurance test staying out till all hours and often until dawn.
But I have to say it has been a lot of fun. A good time has been had.
A good old nobble as they say. What has been a lot of fun is the digital
stills camera I've been loaned to take pictures for these articles.
Whenever in use its caused serious attention and at times gathered crowds.
The viewfinder is much like a little video monitor, which when panned
across a scene does slow scan frame grabs. The lens even swivels around
so it can be held at arms length for self portraits. It holds up to
96 images which are stored internally on a hard drive and it has a switch
for playback so you can scroll through shots taken on the cameras monitor
at any time. The images are reasonable resolution (around 250k) and
are downloaded onto a computer for re-use via a connecting lead. Its
certainly gone down well, almost everyone that's seen it wants one immediately.
I've loved this of course, always happy to be seen to be on the front
When I Bumped into Barry Norman at the Edinburgh Film Festival party,
sight of the camera led to the prospects for the film business in the
digital age. Barry has no problem with this generally which considering
his standing as the UK's leading critic is a healthy sign (there are
so many cinephiles around who can't even deal with video). His main
worry was the re-manipulation of classic imagery and bygone stars. The
prospect of Marilyn Monroe giving Humphrey Bogart a blow job did enter
the conversation, which then moved onto the UK's gutter press for a
while, with the usual lack of real conclusion. For the parting glass,
heres to the French for their unbelievable humanity and hospitality.
What do you mean we've got to rise above the arrogance.
Heres to it.
I mean it man!