Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We all know that “craziness” and “Cannes” are synonymous, but this year the film festival folly began even before opening night after delegate director Thierry Fremaux pushed back the date for the announcement of the official lineup for the 61st Festival de Cannes. Fremaux’s decision to move the announcement back eight days sent rumors flying from Gaul to Hollywood – “There’s nothing good to choose from!” “[insert your favorite recent title here] isn’t finished yet!” “The head of TF1 International went to jail after being linked to a scandalous drug-related death!” (sorry, that one was true as it turns out.) The move has sent the entire Gallic film sector into a panic – not only do the French typically not react well to any sort of change, especially when dealing with the most traditional film festival in perhaps the universe, but such a move will affect everyone from journalists to sidebar directors to publicists to talent. Eight days of waiting meant not only a painful eight days of waiting, but also less time for pre-festival screenings and interviews and less time for journalists – especially those working for monthly publications with close dates looming – to get to publishing. Publicists and international sales agents will have to scramble to begin their international marketing campaigns and in-demand talent will have eight less days to free their busy schedules for the mid-May festivities. Could this mean less major talent on the Croisette? Not to mention that party-planners will be rushing to book venues and plan events surrounding the titles selected. And will the red carpet turn out pink due to lack of time to get things ready? Jokes aside (this is France, remember?), this year’s Cannes fever has had film execs sick with worry over what this year’s final lineup will look like. And then there are the sidebars. The Critics Week and Director’s Fortnight sidebars typically have their lineups ready days in advance, usually sending to V.I.P. (Very Important Press) outlets under embargo way before their press conferences. This year, however, both sidebars are still scuttling to finalize selected titles just a few days before their announcements later in the week (Critics Week on Thursday and Fortnight Friday.) Critics Week was ready with its lineup over one week ago and now, thanks to a cannibalism on the part of the main lineup, Critics Week has only half of its films confirmed just two days before the press conference Thursday. Rumor has it that Fremaux is apparently still receiving and screening new films just days-hours before Wednesday’s press conference. Clint Eastwood and Steven Soderbergh are allegedly pulling a Wong Kar Wai, i.e. rushing to complete their latest projects in time for the fest, which would mean Fremaux will be forced to announce titles he has yet to see and take risks with tried-and-true directors. Sources say there's nothing to show from Asia this year (yes, the entire continent) and nothing extremely exciting from the US, so it looks like we’ll be seeing a Europe-heavy line-up this year. With “Sex & The City” out of the picture, how will Fremaux and co. spice up the Croisette this year? Can a kung-fu fighting panda save the festival from itself? Will Madonna shine her “ray of light” onto the Riviera? Will Steven Spielberg announce plans for “Indiana Jones: 864”? Only time will tell. And with that, bonsoir.

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