Dear Diary #3: Orson Welles, Leto and other stories

The opening days saw us swanning into screenings with bottles of water and snacks galore

CANNES – So, the international journalists have moved on from complaining about the potential queues for films, to complaining about the very real queues they’ve come across at parties. Last night’s do on the Majestic Beach was a lovely affair, with a wide variety of delicious food served by chefs in chef hats, and no fewer than three bars serving free drinks. Alas, the lines for all these culinary delights and liquid refreshments were long and the prize at the end was often served in a small plastic container with a plastic fork more suitable for Barbies and Kens than full-grown (and ravenous) humans.

“Who’s next?”

Another complaint about eating and drinking comes courtesy of the festival powers-that-be: the opening days saw us swanning into screenings with bottles of water and snacks galore. Discovering our newfound freedom, many of us hacks proceeded to fill our knapsacks with energy bars and the like to get us through the day, only to find that the laissez-faire attitude of old has given way to more draconian airport-security ways of previous years. The bins at the screening entrances were full of bananas, chocolate bars and discarded bottles. Such is the hard life of film journalism.

“Yeah, right. Us too.”

Talking of draconian, this morning’s first film was Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s Leto (Summer), beautifully shot black-and-white film about musicians in 1980s Leningrad with splashes of colour thanks to Super8 footage and graphics. It was a love story set within a love story to music and showed the struggle to make music and be authentic while living in the oppressive Soviet state. For those of a certain age, there were many poignant references to the music of the 1970s and 1980s (and a nice little dig at Duran Duran). Lovely stuff.

A scene from Kirill Serebrennikov’s Leto.

Last night’s screening was Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles. Cousins is obviously enamoured and in awe of his subject, and why wouldn’t you be? His doc is a one-way conversation with Welles, focussing on his travels and his loves. The film is divided into episodes, each one on a particular facet of Welles’ life and work. It’s a warm film that is a reminder of the phenomenal intelligence and prodigious talent that was Welles.

Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles

In a nice touch of serendipity, Cannes will be screening Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Gilliam and Welles both endured enormous hurdles to get their films of this chivalric hero filmed (in fact, Welles never did manage to finish his), so it seems fitting that the Cousins doc and Gilliam’s feature should be appearing at the same festival. Being at a festival inevitably means tilting at windmills at some point. Seems like there’s a little Don Quixote in us all…

Terry Gilliam: “Not dead yet. We are coming to Cannes.”

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