Too Much News

Overshadowed by Bigger News, But Not Forgotten

Paris:- Friday, 10. May 1996:- With Wednesday's other momentous events, VE Day and the traditional commemoration by the President of the République at the Arch de Triomphe, made only page 13 of Thursday's Le Parisien.
President Chirac.jpg (29k) The 51st anniversary in Paris of the 8. May 1945 end of hostilities in Europe were carried out with their usual solemn ceremony in the morning, but were followed by a wild afternoon in Orléans, where the 567th anniversary of the liberation of the city by Jeanne d'Arc, in 1429, was celebrated.

The socialist mayor of Orléans, Jean-Pierre Sueur, evoked the memory of Jeanne d'Arc as representing France as a symbol of justice, generosity, human rights and French openness towards the world.

President Chirac was seen on the evening TV news, in a short series of impressive video clips that represented three hours of his visit; shaking hands, kissing babies and being totally immersed in an immense crowd. Everybody looked very jolly, especially President Chirac.

Europe Day 1996

Equally buried under football mania, Thursday, 9. May - Europe Day - passed nearly unnoticed, with the evening news on state television A2 devoting 15 seconds to the subject, and the privately-owned TF1, only about 10 seconds.

I had seen a poster announcing the event on Monday and called the organizers to request a press kit, but it had still not arrived by today. The French document section, Mouvement Européen, located directly beneath the Grand Arch at La Défense, was closed Wednesday - VE Day - when I passed there.

On the phone I had been told that the European fifteen-stared flag, was to be unfurled at the Panthéon in the morning and that there was to be some sort of ceremony at place de la Bastille in the afternoon. By watching TV news all day, I can say that these two events did indeed take place.

According to a brochure, just handed to me, over a thousand events commemorating Europe Day took place in France alone. I do not know if it is the same in other member states, but in France the European movement seems to concentrate on a local level: in towns and villages, in schools and universities - as if the movement towards European Union is as yet too timid to try and replace events such as VE Day.

It effectively means that active citizens, with the necessary historical knowledge, are not generally informed enough to know that the European Union is not a distant figment of a bureaucratic imagination - but a very real institution that is now 46 years old - the main purpose of which is to unite Europe to such an extent as to make another continent-wide war impossible.

Glitz Time - The 49th Cannes Film Festival

The annual film show opened yesterday with the showing of the French film 'Ridicule,' directed by Patrice Leconte. Its stars include Fanny Ardant, Charles Berling, Bernard Giraudeau, Judith Godrèche and Jean Rochefort.

Ridicule director Patrice Leconte (21k) 'Ridicule' also opened in 200 theatres around France yesterday and many other of the competing films will start their commercial showings in France during the festival, or shortly thereafter, including Robert Altman's 'Kansas City' which will show at the Cannes Festival on the 12th, and open in the cinemas next Wednesday, 15. May.

Television in France really pulls out all the stops for this festival, and especially this year with five French films in the official competition. Every night that there is festival activity, television will devote more time to the subject than it will devote to the next five annual 'Europe Days.'

But it is also thanks to television that I have seen so much French cinema. It is less now than it was, but there used to be a good number of regular shows 'about' cinema on television; that would feature clips from all the latest films, and chats - the French do 'chat' well - with their directors and actors. All films start in the theatres on Wednesdays, and with the TV coverage, they used to be regular topics of conversation - as in, 'That looks like an interesting movie.' I don't hear that said often these days; and I don't say it myself, because I don't know what is going on.

In the quest for French and 'European' content, most of the successful television networks regularly co-finance the production of new films, so I do not know why the shows about films seemed to have stopped - or at least, are certainly reduced in number.

Since Hollywood is the source of so many movies on television - two or three years after their theatre runs - I have heard a lot of movies that have been dubbed into French. I have the impression that, among the 'dubbers' there are 'stars' too. I think there may be a fairly small number of these people that do it regularly - because it is the same 'voice' that is the 'stand-in' French voice, for example, for Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Jack Nicolson, Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte and Richard Gere. It is just a bit disconcerting to see all these different faces and hear the same voice. And now that Hollywood permits actors to have regional 'accents,' this too is completely lost by dubbing. Wait until you hear Eddie Murphy in French!

It can have a surprising effect as well. After seeing 'Miami Vice' reruns for several years in French - a sort of burly voice - I was completely flabbergasted by Don Johnson's 'real' voice; and I thought it didn't suit his character at all. Whatever has happened to him since Miami Vice ended?

These comments are not adding much to 'Cannes Fever' I suppose, so I suggest you have a look at the rest of Metropole before you come back here and zoom off on the links that movie fan Tony Grant - and experienced film festival webmaster - has assembled here for you.

The site to visit this year is the one done by Le Monde and partners at :

The Official site is not worth looking at !

Last years best looking site (the Film Scouts site) is this year unreadable because of white text on trendy black background, and their graphic designer must have moved on to greener pastures...

There are probably 20 sites doing Cannes coverage, all the French Movie magazines say they have one but checking in the usual places didn't find many. The Web is very new to most of these people, they don't seem to have figured out how to get themselves indexed...

Why aren't we doing Cannes.on.Cyber this year ? Because of the 'economic crisis' in Japan our sponsors backed out at the last minute and we decided to concentrate all our efforts on a Mega Site for the 50 th annniversary of the festival next year. Stay tuned.

Metropole will be publishing the results 'live' on the 20 th, I want to be the first to have them online for the second year running !

Tony Grant

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