A Cannes Diary, Part I
by Matthew Harrison
May 7, 1997
I pass my daylight hours in preparation for the premiere of my third
feature “Kicked In The Head” at that exalted and sublime foremost festival
of festivals, Cannes. Hurry uptown to the lab to check reprinted reels,
hurry across town to the tailors, dash downtown to visit October to look
at posters. I feel a spring in my heel after a long winter of post
production: “Ahh, to be going to Cannes in May with a new film…”
May 8, 1997
The fancy limo hired by October to take me to the airport arrives. The
Lincoln is steaming hot inside and the driver asks if I want air
conditioning. I say “Sure” and he punches the dashboard with his fist.
“It’s busted,” he says as the fans roar ineffectually. “If you wanna
open your windows you can, though you gotta close it when we go in the
midtown tunnel.” He pounds on the console all the way to the airport to
demonstrate his dedication to my comfort.
Perhaps I don’t know what I’m getting into! Every day I am told “Cannes
is a zoo!” Having taken my films to other big festivals – Sundance,
Berlin, Toronto – I figure I have this festival racket under my belt but
I am told, “No way, dude. It’s a zoo.”
The Lincoln limps into JFK, my indefatigable driver pounding the dash.
For the first time in a long time I am flying business. In the lounge I
spy October partner John Schmidt and he tells me he is flying economy.
John Schmidt cries out, “Cannes will be a zoo!” — distracting me as
they call business passengers to board. I board with economy.
As William Morris-heavy-hitter-Agent Johnny Planko lowers himself into
his first class seat, he tells me not to fret the hoopla of Cannes and
then he introduces me to Robert Altman who kicks my ass, saying his
picture wasn’t accepted to Cannes because my picture, “Kicked In The Head,”
elbowed him out. I apologize and grovel at his white moccasin
May 9, 1997
Arrive in Nice — a film crew blocks our exit on the jetway – they are
here to meet Altman. They ask him how he likes Cannes and he answers
something like, “We’re in Nice.” Drive to Cannes in a Mercedes driven by
a man named Pierre.
May 10, 1997
I walk to the Palais in the morning — the “Bunker” which is a massive
concrete fort built to house the Festival. It is swarming with tourists
and cinefiles. Yachts are beginning to fill the harbor. I walk to the
Quinzaine Office and meet Pierre-Henri Beleau and Olivier Jahan, the
organizers of the Fortnight. Dropped by the CIBY sales office. They are
handling sales of “Kicked.” Had lunch with Huw Morgan CIBY and Nancy
Bannister of October.
May 11, 1997
Technical check of “Kicked In The Head” at the theater in the Noga at 8
a.m. Looks good. I had them make it louder and they said it was too
loud. Then I had them make it louder still and they thought I was high
on drugs. I said, “It’s an American film, it has to be loud.”
At 11 a.m. they are to have a press screening and I am nervous about
that. I haven’t seen the film straight through. Tonight will be the
first screening of “Kicked” the world has ever seen.