David Lister: The best performances at Cannes are at the press conferences

The Week in Arts

Share
Related Topics

In previous visits to the Cannes Film Festival I have been as entertained by the daily press conferences as by the films. Film writers from across the world manage to put on a display of sycophancy like you have never seen.

The rush to the platform for autographs by the world's film press is so frantic as to make any baying crowd at a Leicester Square premiere look downright sedate. And then there are the "questions". My favourite moment was when a film writer from Lebanon asked Charlton Heston the "question": "Mr Heston, are you aware that you are my father, my mother, my sister and my brother?"

But I also enjoyed a reported exchange at the current festival when a film writer said to Lynne Ramsay, director of We Need To Talk About Kevin, that the film about the boy serial killer was a particular "horror" for him as he had just become a father. Don't worry too much. Your little treasure is not likely to become a serial killer. Just pray he doesn't become a film critic.

Or, of course, a film director. Lars von Trier took the Cannes press conference to a new level this week, declaring on Wednesday morning that he understood and had sympathy with Hitler, then declaring that afternoon that he was not a Nazi, and then being banned by the authorities from coming within 100 metres of the main festival venue.

Those of us who have suffered under the French bureaucracy at Cannes will appreciate the exactness of those 100 metres. I once turned up without the correct accreditation and had literally to stand in the corner for several hours as punishment before I was given the formal telling-off and new accreditation. It ain't all glamour out there.

One inside these press-conference love-fests there are unwritten rules, the main one being that you never but never say anything remotely critical. When a couple of us did one year, at a British film to boot, we were bawled at by the movie world's pre-eminent bawler, producer Harvey Weinstein, who told us with a largesse of decibels that it was our job to support our film industry.

Directors know how to exploit the unwritten rules too. The biggest unwritten rule is publicity above all. The film world is rather brilliant at this. (Why don't other art forms have daily press conferences at their festivals? Why never a Barenboim, Rattle, Lang Lang press conference at the Proms?) Von Trier found one way of getting publicity for his film, though it arguably backfired. The Terrence Malik way at this year's festival was even better – not turning up at all. The mystery of the enigmatic absentee is always a winner. Add to that the fact that the stars of your film will spend the whole time singing your praises, which helps when the star is Brad Pitt.

Pitt also explained Malik's absence quite poetically, saying: "It is odd for an artist to sculpt something and then be a salesman." Go tell that to all the other sculptors-turned-salesmen, Brad.

When opera and politics share a stage

Placido Domingo made a farewell of sorts at the Los Angeles Opera where he has been general director for 15 years. Though the 70-year-old will stay there until 2013, he has given his last scheduled singing performance for the company playing Oreste in Iphigenie en Tauride. The gala evening was quite an occasion, and was attended by the American Vice-President Joe Biden.

Managing to make a clumsy and utterly unnecessary link between Domingo's farewell and the killing by US commandos of Osama bin Laden, Mr Biden said of the commandos: "Placido Domingo is probably the only man who could appropriately sing their praises."

It was an excellent demonstration of why politicians should keep quiet when they attend the opera.

Blessed are the glamrockers

Lady Gaga has a new album. But who should get the credit for it? Is it the lady herself, or her two demi-gods Elton John and David Bowie? In this instance demi-god is not an over-statement, as Lady Gaga has revealed that she used to pray to the two rock stars when she was a mere Girl Gaga.

At school she was bullied, she said in an interview, recalling: "I got profanities written all over my locker. I got pinched in the hallways and called a slut." (And you thought they had it tough on Glee.)

The bullying apparently resulted in her praying at home in her bedroom to her two personal deities Elton John and David Bowie for the creativity to do something great. And, praise be to the two gods, the album is out on Monday. I hope they get a share of the royalties.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Web developer (C#, MVC4, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Jquery)

£30000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

Senior Automation QA Engineer (Java, Selenium WebDriver, Agile)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior A...

Web developer (C#.NET, ASP.NET, MVC3/4, HTML5, CSS3, JAVASCRIPT

£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the country's Independence Day in New Delhi, India  

With Modi talking tough and Sharif weak, the India-Pakistan love-in could never last

Andrew Buncombe
At the time of the investigation Patrick Foster published a statement on Twitter, denouncing the “unnecessarily heavy-handed police investigation”  

Long-term bail allows lazy police and prosecutors to leave cases to gather dust

Oliver Wright
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment