Vive la France

Opening this year’s Cannes Film Festival the president of the jury, Quentin Tarantino, opened his spectacularly large mouth to ruminate on the decline and fall of the British film industry. Not a subject that Tarantino has any personal experience in whatsoever, but this did not stop him pontificating upon it. I won’t go over his somewhat simplistic and uninformed opinion again. However he went on to remark that the world now only had three places where a sustainable movie industry was possible: America, Hong Kong and India.

By America he means Hollywood, which for a director who is supposedly steeped in underground and obscure movie lore, not to mention a man who started out as an Indy film-maker (along with his mate Rodriguez, who wrote a book on guerrilla movie making) is a dreadful simplification and ignores the independent film making in the US. Perhaps he feels he is now too big and cosy with being an auteur in the major studio system and those who make shoestring films to show at Sundance no longer count?

However, there was a far more glaring omission from his opinionated remarks – he missed out the French film industry. Given that he is currently in Cannes on the French Riviera and that the name of his production company is an Anglicised version of a name from a Truffaut film this is a very odd omission. As a cinephile myself I rank the French film-makers as amongst the finest in the world, with an output ranging from outright, big-budget farce like Les Visiteurs to the opulent period drama/fairy tale of Cyrano de Bergerac and from the mould-breaking directors of the New Wave to the Postmodernist vagueness of Luc Besson. A most odd omission, especially since some of these have been direct influences on Tarantino himself.

Meanwhile the red carpet procession at Cannes was brought to a halt as French journalists cheered Michael Moore’s arrival. As some may be aware Bush’s good friends at Disney have pulled the plug on his new film Farenheit 911 (the temperature at which truth burns) and are refusing to distribute it in the US. This means a US film about (largely) US problems is not being shown in the USA but will be shown around the rest of the world. So much for freedom of speech. But then if your family and political/business friends can subvert the law to put you into the Oval Office then what’s attempting to block a pesky little film, eh? I don’t always agree completly with Moore (although I often do) but I will totally and utterly back his rights to say what he needs to say.