Cannes 2000: Wind, Godard and Elian-Cannes Kicks Off

by Stephen Garrett

With hammers swinging and buzzsaws buzzing, Cannes as always is spending its pre-opening festival hours frantically assembling the infrastructure of the world's most prestigious cine-feast, while thousands of distributors, press, sales agents, publicists, programmers and film buffs elbow their way through the fray. Seasoned vets are finding a new topography this year, with the American Pavillion tucked further towards the Mediterranean, two huge video screens in front of the Grand Palais and the Majestic, and a Byzantine maze inside the Palais itself, re-routing people around preparations for an opening night soiree which is being held inside, on the main staircase of the building. Whiplash winds aren't helping the matter either, tossing lawn furniture on palais terraces, shaking newly-hoisted pavilion tents and generally adding more bedlam to the already chaotic beach resort.

The surging wave of movies is beginning to break, with twelve screenings even before the festival officially opens tonight and another hundred to follow on Thursday alone, ranging from Ken Loach's L.A.-set "Bread and Roses" to back-alley, b-movie fare like "The Bogus Witch Project." Press screenings have begun, with dutiful applause for Jean-Luc Godard's 12-minute history lesson "Origin of the XXI Century." The film, a video-to-film transferred pastiche of 20th century images from war to sex and everything in between, was as always thickly layered in meaning, and intellectually ambitious