CANNES 2001: Two Directors In Their Own Words -- Wong Kar-wai and David Lynch in Cannes
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE/05.17.01) — It was a day for two acclaimed directors to
make their splash on the Croisette. In separate appearances yesterday
(Wednesday), Wong Kar-wai and David Lynch talked with the press and other festival attendees about their aesthetics and what inspires them.
During what was billed as a “Day of Transmission,” the festival presented a
symposium on “transmitting knowledge and love of cinema,” gathering together
filmmakers, critics, festival directors and students. Among the highlights
of the all-day event was the anticipated lecture by Hong Kong auteur Wong
Kar-wai. However, the director abandoned the speech in favor of a screening
of a follow-up short to “In The Mood for Love” and a Q & A session.
Titled “In the Mood for Love 2001,” the short is a coda to the feature
length movie, which Wong says was originally called “Three Stories About
Food,” and was inspired by a book by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Intended to be the “dessert,” the short film features the owner of a 711 store
(played by Tony Leung) and his customer (played by Maggie Cheung). A promo sheet for the movie calls it “an analysis of the sensation of tasting. It
illustrates the erotic properties of cakes, tarts, cream puffs…”
As the movie concluded, the director — wearing his trademark dark
glasses — made his way on stage as the photographers swarmed. Among the
notable filmmakers who sat in for his standing room only appearance were
Volker Schlondorff, Agnes Varda, Samira Makhmalbaf and James Gray, all watching from the front row. Actress Fay Dunaway sat a few rows back, videotaping the event and taking copious notes.
Among the insights offered by the Hong Kong director was a wish early in his
career that he would emulate Alfred Hitchcock. “I imagined myself as
Hitchcock,” Wong told the crowd, but admitted, “I hate writing — I won’t be
Hitchcock, because I change all the time.” The director explained that he
shoots his movies without a “real script,” but with an outline that includes
dialogue, but lacks specifics. He concluded, “You can’t write all of your
images on paper.”
However, Wong Kar-Wai views his latest work, “In the Mood for Love,” as a
film influenced by Hitchcock. “In the Mood for Love” is like a thriller, a
story with a lot of suspense; it has a typical Hitchcock story structure.”
“The privilege of being a director is that you can control time,” the
director offered later. “In our daily life we cannot control time; this is
the fun part of being a director.”
Anyone who is familiar with Wong Kar-wai’s work would certainly understand
the importance of music to his films; witness the use of the Nat King Cole
songs for “In the Mood for Love.” “To me, music creates the rhythm,” the
director said. “If I want to explain it to (cinematographer) Chris Doyle, I
play him CDs, rather than show him a script; he won’t read a script anyway.”
Attendees were curious to learn more about Wong’s background. “Growing up, I
spent almost everyday watching films,” the director said. “My advice is: see
as may films as you can.”
Asked about his views on studying cinema in school, Wong explained that he
did not attend film school. “To spend some time in film school is good, so
you can see a lot of films and make some friends,” he said, eliciting a few
chuckles from the audience. “But actually, I think you have to leave to make
films in your daily life.”
The audience also focused on Wong Kar-wai’s latest production, “2046.” Tony
Leung is on board for the “operatic sci-fi film,” according to the director,
while Maggie Cheung has not yet agreed to take a part in the movie. At last
year’s Cannes, Wong told indieWIRE, “The film is about promise. In 1997,
China’s government promised 50 years of change. And I think, well, I should
make a film about promises.” Pressed for details at this year’s event,
however, Wong was mostly evasive, smiling and saying, “Whatever I tell you,
it will all change.”
* * * * *
Equally of interest to festival-goers here was David Lynch’s much more
oblique conversation with the press yesterday afternoon. Most of the
questions surrounded his competition film, “Mulholland Drive,” a reworked TV
series pilot. However, a few other inquiries inspired Lynch to offer insight
into his creative process.
After delivering a cut to ABC that both he and the network were unhappy
with, Lynch was persuaded to pursue a theatrical version of the project.
However, that effort required some recutting to alter the open-ended pilot.
After some consideration, Lynch showed the footage to a producer and agreed
to give it a shot.
“One night, sitting down in my chair, the ideas unraveled,” Lynch told the
audience, “They came to me like a string, and that was a beautiful night.”
“Ideas come with many threads,” Lynch offered, continuing the string
metaphor. “You don’t know what’s going to happen; the ideas string
themselves into a whole.”
“Lately, I’ve been thinking of ideas as fish,” he told the engaged crowd the
more he was pressed about his process for coming up with concepts for his
projects. “They are swimming around and once in awhile we catch one. Every
film is its own thing, the ideas dictate everything.” indieWIRE’s review of
“Mulholland Drive” will be published on our website later today (Thursday).
>> CORRECTION: LA Asian Fest
In Wednesday’s story, “LA Asian Pacific Fest Fires Up with ‘Green Dragon’,”
the article indicated that Tony Bui’s festival opener “Green Dragon” deals
with Japanese American internment camps during WWII. “Green Dragon” is about
Vietnamese refugee camps in California in 1975. We apologize for the error.
>> CORRECTION: Slamdance in Cannes
In Tuesday’s Cannes 2001 article, “Attention-Getting? Slamdunk, Slamdance,
Streaking, and a Sandwich Board,” by Jean Tang, there were a few factual
errors in regards to Slamdance’s presence at this year’s Cannes festival.
In addition to Johnny Josslyn, which the article claimed was the only
Slamdance rep in Cannes, there were six other members of the Slamdance
team, as well as two Slamdance Entertainment staffers, including Marco
Weber, CEO of Atlantic Streamline. We also incorrectly reported that
Atlantic Streamline was a distributor — it is a production company —
also, the company did not acquire Slamdance, Atlantic Streamline formed
a partnership with the co-founders of the film festival to form a
separate international entity, known as Slamdance Entertainment.
Slamdance’s screenings included a selection from their Dirty Dozen DVD
series on May 13; and Off Cannes and Agora Media hosted a screening of
the Dirty Dozen II DVD shorts on May 15 at the Cineguingette (not
“Cineguinquest,” as stated) beach. Microsoft’s Window Media is also
on board this year, streaming many of Slamdance’s shorts on their
website on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next two weeks. For more
information, check out Slamdance’s website: http://www.slamdance.com.