Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Cannes 1984: Cannes-speak

Serge Daney's playful intro to Cannes 1984 in Libération. Note: in the French text (see picture), this Cannes glossary is in alphabetical order. The translation simply follows Daney's article.

Over 12 days, the small town of Cannes (in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France) becomes the world capital of an imaginary country: Cinema. And during these two weeks, the natives of this temporary principality talk, more or less fluently, an appropriate language, Cannes-speak, a living dialect of cinema as alien as any other with its own syntax, lexicon, grammar and accents. Whatever this tribal Esperanto is, it develops a plain-speak each year of its own specific vintage. 
A cute one. Designed by Trauner. Blueish. Unlike last year’s poster cruelly designed by Kurosawa and the one from two years ago by Fellini, it alludes to a slightly retro, Carnéphilic imagination, (Les Enfants du Paradis are here, somewhere). Does it anticipate a similarly serene festival? 
Far from squeaking, we will make do with the “bunker”, even slightly improved. In 1983, Robert Favre Le Bret, the president of the pinkish building confessed that it wavered between a cavern, a museum and a cathedral. As true Platonists, and friends of myths, we clearly come down in favour of a cavern as the future of the bunker. 
Let one thing be clear: the Cannes film festival stopped being a great celebration of cinema a long time ago. Instead, it is the harsh capital of an imaginary yet very real country: Cinema. Every capital has its officials, its ambassadors, its offices, its administration, and of course its dissidents. Dreamers, stay away. 
(“Away with them to the lions!”) We are thinking specifically about a female colleague who, not so long ago, ruined a private screening by eating Bounty bars nervously. We are talking of course about The Mutineer on the Bounty (out of competition). 
USSR Consulate 
If you want to protest against the boycott of the Olympic Games, here is the address you need: 3 avenue Ambroise Paré, 13000 Marseille, tel: (91)77 15 25. 
In a constantly evolving audio-visual world… 
Mandatory introduction to any speech by the powers that be. 
Some metaphors may bring bad luck. Example: Favre Le Bret comparing Cannes and the Olympic Games: “For films, Cannes is the Olympic Games every year!” What a scatterbrain! 
Only one “big one” this year, Sergio Leone. We can already say that Once Upon a Time in America is a beautiful film. Long live the big ones! 
The title of an American superproduction, produced by Lorimar and shown at the Marché du Film. With Malcolm McDowell, ex-Caligula, as the main actor. Must see. 
Out of competition 
The plague of recent festivals. Any film not willing to risk the embarrassment of not getting a reward features at the Cannes film festival “out of competition”. That’s cheating! Fort Saganne (Corneau), Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen), After the Rehearsal (Bergman), Once Upon a Time in America (Leone). 
The word strangely comes back again and again. It seems that there was no choice. The 37th Cannes film festival is not rich in cinephilic monuments. Many auteur films, not quite ready, will likely feature in Venice. The organisers were left playing their last card: that of discovery, meaning first films and lesser known national cinemas. We shall see. 
There’s no head or tail here. Still, at the head, Dirk Bogarde. Then: Isabelle Huppert, Michel Deville, Stanley Donen, Franco Cristaldi, Istvan Dosai, Arne Hestenes (a Norwegian from Dagbladet!), Ennio Morricone, Jorge Semprun and the handsome Vadim Yusov. 
The masses 
Let’s not give too much heed to what Nadave Silber, in charge of the alternative official selection that is Un Certain Regard (“You have beautiful eyes!”), when he says that the festival has instilled “a taste, a love for the cinema” among the masses. We know that few Cannes locals have access to the screenings open to the public. It’s really a festival of professionals, which gives it, unlike Berlin or Venice, a stuffy, tribal and uptight ambiance . 
Marché du film 
The largest in the world (we can never say it enough!) 
Recent Palmes 
For the forgetful, let’s recall the Palmes d’or of the 1980s (already a few years into it): 1980: Kagemusha (Kurosawa, Japan) and All That Jazz (Fosse). 1981: Man of Iron (Wajda, Poland). 1982: Yol (Guney, Turkey) and Missing (Costa-Gavras, pass). 1983: The Ballad of Narayama (Imamura, Japan). 1984: ? 
Palais Croisette 
Last year, this old ugly building became friendly again by hosting screenings from the Directors’ Fortnight. A cinephile wind brought some warmth to it. What will happen this year? Everybody at the Blue Bar! 
French selection 
Scandalous, once again. Reduced to two films (two!). Bertrand Tavernier’s already released and expired A Sunday in the Country and Jacques Doillon’s eagerly expected The Pirate. Clamour about the good health of the French cinema industry seems contradicted by this weak choice. What will they think of us abroad? 
Jack Lang inaugurates the Victorine Studio renovated just before the Lautner festival,  Belmondo uses them to film Happy Easter and everybody suddenly remembers that it is here—yes, here!—that Carné shot Les Enfants du Paradis. So many emotions! 
A major player is missing! Alain Delon, the hero of Bertrand Blier’s Our Story wasn’t deemed Cannable. Too bad. Remaining, among other shooting stars, are Depardieu, De Niro, Deneuve, Birkin, Gibson and many others that we already love. 

Published in Libération on 11 May 1984. Co-written with Gérard Lefort. Translation by Laurent Kretzschmar and Srikanth Srinivasan.

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