Cronenberg Says Coppola Didn’t Want Him to Win a Cannes Jury Prize for ‘Crash’ in 1996

According to David Cronenberg, Cannes jury president Francis Ford Coppola was "totally against" his controversial J.G. Ballard adaptation.
Director David Cronenberg poses for photographers upon arrival to receive his Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg, though never officially retired, is in no rush to get back to filmmaking even after a six-year hiatus since the release of his Hollywood-skewering satire “Maps to the Stars.” Instead, the Canadian auteur, who is 77 years old, is reappraising his legacy at the moment, and in the form of a 4K restoration of his 1996 film “Crash.” To promote the new transfer of his controversial J.G. Ballard adaptation about car-crash fetishists, Cronenberg spoke with The Canadian Press (via Yahoo! News) about the film, and specifically its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival when Francis Ford Coppola was president.

According to Cronenberg, Coppola went out of his way to make sure people knew that not everyone supported “Crash,” which bowed in the main competition and received a Special Jury Award created exclusively for it, since other people opposed its Palme d’Or contention. And those people, according to Cronenberg, were pretty much just Coppola.

“Coppola was totally against it,” Cronenberg said. “I think he was the primary one. When I’m asked why [‘Crash’] got this Special Jury Award, well, I think it was the jury’s attempt to get around the Coppola negativity, because they had the power to create their own award without the president’s approval. And that’s how they did it, but it was Coppola who was certainly against it.”

Cronenberg also said that Coppola’s distaste for the movie visibly carried over to the festival’s awards ceremony. “The strange thing is that I’ve run into him several times at various festivals. Always the first thing he says is: ‘Remember, we gave you this award.’ I swore to myself that the next time he said that, I was going to remind him that he was not amongst those who wanted to give (“Crash”) a prize. In fact, during the final closing night ceremony he wouldn’t hand me the award. He had someone else hand it to me. He wouldn’t do it himself,” Cronenberg said.

Coppola at the ceremony that year said that certain jury members “did abstain very passionately,” and The New York Times reported that Cronenberg was loudly booed upon heading up to the stage.

Cronenberg told The Canadian Press that he thought Coppola’s discontent about “Crash” was petty. “Later I was president of the (Cannes) jury as well. You always end up with awards that maybe you don’t think are justified, but your team jury members do. You have to be gracious about it. I don’t think he was very gracious,” he said.

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