A Cannes Diary, Part II
by Matthew Harrison
May 13,1997 – A Night With Martin Scorsese
The evening began at 8:30 as we made the short walk from
our hotel to the Grand Hotel next door. Dressed to the nines in our tuxedo
and gown, we entered the most beautiful, majestic hotel on the Croisette.
Glancing around the lobby of the hotel, we saw it was dressed with a sweeping
flourish of Tibetan curtains. “Kundun” had begun. We rode the elevator to
the top floor of the hotel where the festivities were being held. It was
the first day the rain and wind had cleared, so we walked out onto the
roof. Rays of sunshine were shooting up into the heavens with clouds
cascading down over the French hills, forming steps for the Gods to
descend to the earth.
We walked over to Martin Scorses and Barbara DeFina, the only other
people on the roof. Martin welcomed us and walked us through a full size
Tibetan tent that UCG, the French sales company, had built overlooking
the whole of Cannes. My heart leapt into my throat. I looked over at
Marty and he told me how proud he was of “Kicked” and gave me a hug.
Shortly thereafter, he stepped across the roof and beckoned to me. When
I stepped closer, he put his arm around me. As if on command, a gang of
photographers leapt out and frantically photographed us.
After drinking champagne and watching the setting sun, we were ushered
back into the tent for dinner. Philip Glass had written a score for the
entire evening. As the meals were being served the music swelled,
creating a tremor of excitement at the arriving food. After dessert, the
music swelled once again as hostesses delivered Tibetan bells to each
guest and a large parchment of paper sealed with red wax and a “Kundun“
seal. Inside was a book filled with color photos from the film. It was
now around 1 am, time to go to the Palais for the screening of the
The motorcade took off down the Criosette with bodyguards running
alongside. The rest of the party walked down the Palais with large
portfolios and Tibetan bells. We arrived at the Palais and Barbara
whisked us through the huge crowd through the cordon of gendarmes and up
the stairs. There we were, standing with Martin Scorsese and Barbara
DeFina at the 50th anniversary of Cannes, looking down at a throng of
the creme-de-la-creme of the world film scene waiting to be let through
the ropes into the screening of “Kundun”: Harvey Weinstein, Milos Foreman,
Ismael Merchant — all begging to be let up the steps. Martin waved his
hand and the flood broke up the stairs. Harvey bounded upwards, three
steps at a time.
We settled into our seats and four Tibetan monks appeared on stage and
hummed a Tibetan ceremonial song. The clip began. It was a 12 minute
trailer of Scorsese’s film and it was fantastic. After the screening,
Martin took a bow and we followed Barbara and Martin out to the
motorcade. The cars took us out to the Du Cap, the most luxurious and
exclusive hotel around Cannes. Martin said his goodnights and walked off
into the night, down the great lawn to the sea where his villa lied. We
closed out the evening among Barbara and her admirers, drinking bilinis
into the early morning.