DISPATCH FROM CANNES: On the Final Weekend: Awards, A Big Party and Wong Kar Wai Contemplates "2046"
by Eugene Hernandez
The 57th Cannes Film Festival closed with a bang this weekend, following Saturday's awards ceremony, MGM's multi-million dollar party that night and a full-day of screenings on Sunday. On Saturday evening, festivalgoers gathered in the Palais des Festivals here in Cannes for the fest's awards ceremony, with the program held in the Lumiere Theater and simultaneously broadcast in the adjacent Debussy Theater. According to some attendees early Saturday, Wong Kar Wai's "2046" was a front-runner for the Palme d'Or, even though the film screened to mixed reactions on Thursday night. After the film, jury president Quentin Tarantino partied into the night at the "2046" bash on the Majestic beach, perhaps adding to the speculation that the film might win a prize.
Guess the Winner
Inside the Palais on Saturday evening, as guests watched red-carpet arrivals broadcast live on the big screens in each of the theaters, attendees tried to predict the winners by noting which filmmakers and stars were walking up the red steps (Cannes winners are historically encouraged to return to the fest to attend the ceremony without knowing the prize they might win). Michael Moore drew cheers inside as guests watched he and his wife step out of the official festival vehicle (the two had been back in New York for their daughter's grad school graduation), the applause then increased when Weinstein emerged from a car. Over in the Debussy (where indieWIRE watched the broadcast), as other notable guests arrived, insiders began to buzz, where was Wong Kar Wai? One member of the press was so certain that Wong would win that he speculated that the sharp-eyed red-carpet camera operators had somehow simply missed the director's arrival.
[The complete report from the awards ceremony is available in a separate story here at indieWIRE.]
Talking About "2046"
During Friday's rescheduled press conference, Wong Kar Wai explained that the delivery of the film here in Cannes was delayed because of a problem matching one of the futuristic CGI shots in the film. While most of the movie takes place in the late-1960s, the special effects are in various reels of the film and Wong explained that he faced problems when trying to tie together work created in France, Hong Kong and China. Further pressed on the matter, the director was asked for his reaction to comments from some here that said that the delays were simply a marketing ploy to gain more attention for the movie.
"They think too highly of me," Wong Kar Wai said, smiling, "I don't have time to think of these kinds of tactics."
Wong Kar Wai agreed that his new film is in many ways a continuation of his previous picture, "In The Mood for Love." Indeed, the movie, made alongside "In the Mood," bears striking similarities to the previous film. "I was like the writer in the film," Wong Kar Wai said, referring to Tony Leung's character in "2046." "Like the character in the film the more I tried to get away from it, thing kept reminding me..."
Continuing Wong Kar Wai explained, "The film is actually a portrait of a person who is trying to get away from his past -- the more you try to forget it, the more you remember it, maybe one day the past or the memory will leave you." The title marks the year 50 years after the handover of Hong Kong back to China. "How you deal with your past (is) not only about a person, it can be a city, it can be about anything," Wong summed up.
Critics of the film have said that "2046", with its sometimes vague storyline that spans different time periods, doesn't feel finished. The director sort of agreed. "I will say at this moment that this film is not complete, but that can apply to all of my films," Wong Kar Wai explained Friday, "This is the final editing (as of) May 2004." Despite such comments, he seems anxious to finally put this movie behind him.
"This is the version that we should say is complete," Wong Kar Wai said, "The reason that I present the film in time (here in Cannes) is to put the project to a stop, the trip has been four years, we have done our best." Continuing though, he joked, "At this moment this is the stop, of course, if you give me three more weeks or three more months, the film will be different, but I don't want to predict that."
One press conference attendee told the director Friday that he would likely win the Palme d'Or the following day, and asked Wong how he might react if he should win.
"My dear you have too many presumptions," Wong said, smiling, "In case I am so lucky that I get the Palme d'Or, I think we have spent our best efforts -- all the team has worked very hard -- and I think we deserve everything if it comes to us, but I don't want to presume that." Continuing he said, "I am so glad (we are) here together with my cast and crew, (and we) finally we finished the film."
In the days before the screening of "2046", as insiders wondered if the movie would actually make it to Cannes, many joked that the film would not be finished until the year 2046. It is joke that Wong Kar Wai is all too familiar with. "Over the last four years that joke made me sick," Wong said Friday, "(As of) today this joke is over and I am so glad, thank you very much."
MGM Toasts 80 Years
Saturday night, MGM, subject of increasing rumors that it is about to be acquired by Sony, pulled out all the stops for what was without a doubt the biggest bash of the festival. Following the awards ceremony, guests were treated to a tribute of classic MGM clips and then the gala screening of MGM's latest, Irwin Winkler's Cole Porter tribute, "De Lovely." After the showing, 2,500 people made their way to the beach for a massive party that was said to cost more than $2.5 million.
The event, with food multiple food and dessert stations (and plenty of well-stocked bars) included a concert on a huge stage constructed in the sea -- with performances by Natalie Cole, Alanis Morrisette, John Barrowman and others. A fireworks display set to the classic MGM tunes kicked off the show. Local attendees who couldn't score a pass watched the party and concert from the Croisette or at the Cinema de la Plage broadcast on a nearby beach. A standard-setting bash of this magnitude will be a tough one for fest organizers to top next year; of course we encourage them to give it a try!
[indieWIRE will publish additional Cannes coverage in tomorrow's edition.]