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Edited by Sarah Cooper For more tales from the Croisette, see DIARY The Conquest Power trip

BY NANCY TARTAGLIONE Xavier Durringer tells Screen that Thiérry Fremaux’s decision to include Durringer’s fi lm The Conquest, which charts Nicolas Sarkozy’s rise to power, in the Cannes line-up was a “total surprise”. “I like to work with unexpected

subjects that offer a refl ection on the world,” Durringer says of the

Holy water

Visitors to French fi nancing outfi t BackUp Films’ Goeland Beach office here may find themselves blessed if they stop by this week. The latest gimmick the boys

have hatched, in addition to fi nd- ing financing for and packaging fi lms such as the upcoming 7 Days In Havana, is a Virgin Mary- shaped plastic bottle fi lled with the equivalent of about two large shots of vodka. BackUp is referring to it as

“holy vodka”, and has printed up little labels which adorn each clear and blue-painted bottle with a different senti- ment. Screen picked up two. One reads: “Un, dos, tres, un pasito pa’ delante Maria…,” which the boys refer to as the ‘Ricky Martin

version’, and the other says: “Nunc est bibendum” (now is the time to drink). Amen to that.

hotly anticipated fi lm, which is set against the backdrop of the French president’s relationship with ex-wife Cecilia. Screening tonight out of competition, it is the fi rst fi lm ever to dramatise a story around a sitting French president. The local media and even the

president himself have had some- thing to say about it. Sarkozy recently said he would not see the film, partly out of an attempt to avoid being overly narcissistic and partly out of respect for his current

wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Coinci- dentally, she had a role in Woody Allen’s opening night film and there were rumours she decided not to grace the red carpet out of protest at The Conquest’s inclusion (but most people speculate it’s just because she’s pregnant and hasn’t yet offi cially announced it). Durringer admits to having felt

a lot of pressure when he decided to pursue the project. “It was a sort of moral pressure — I couldn’t do it and just say anything. But the desire was there mixed with a bit of fear.” Now the fear has shifted to

opening-night jitters. Screen has run into Durringer a number of times during the festival and each time he was excited, but nervous. Earlier on, he had said: “To be there and see how thousands of people are going to react — it’s going to be completely magical.”

Katia Lewkowicz

French-Israeli actress-turned-director Katia Lewkowicz’s debut feature Why Are You Crying? (Pourquoi Tu Pleures?) is a comedy about the dilemmas of a man facing his wedding, featuring Benjamin Biolay, Emmanuelle Devos and Nicole Garcia. It is the closing fi lm in Critics’ Week.

Ismail Al Qaisi, Omri Bezalel and Pierre Katiyana with Whoopi Whoopi’s wise words

Three young fi lm-makers from Rwanda, Israel and Palestine will present their short Things I Learned From Whoopi in Cannes today (3pm, UK tent). It fea- tures the three — Pierre Katiy- ana, Omri Bezalel and Ismail Al Qaisi — interviewing legendary actress Whoopi Goldberg in

Curtis back in element

BY ANDREAS WISEMAN Hollywood legend Tony Cur- tis, who passed away last year, is returning to the festival he once called his “element and heritage”, courtesy of Ian Ayres’ documentary biopic Tony Cur- tis: Driven To Stardom, which screens in the market today. Curtis, a legendary socialite

and consummate showman, was never one to eschew a social invi-

tation, as Ayres told us: “Tony came to life at parties, he shone. When he wasn’t invited to events all the life went out of him and he got depressed. Even on his death bed, he was thinking about social- ising, asking to be buried with a phone so as not to miss any calls. He was a star to the very end.” And Curtis’ widow, Jill Vanden-

berg, remembers Curtis adoring the Cannes buzz: “Going with

■ 6 Screen International at the Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2011 Tony Curtis and Jill Vandenberg

Tony was always an adventure, whether yachting, dining or party- ing. He loved it here. He loved being a movie star. He would be proud to be going back.”

Why Are You Crying?

London last week. Part of an ini- tiative by Films Without Borders to support aspiring fi lm-makers from troubled countries, there will also be a star-studded lunch here tomorrow hosted by David Morris Jewellers to raise aware- ness for the charity, which is run by fi lm-maker Jill Samuels.

How did the project come about? I did a short fi lm with Valérie [Donzelli] and the producers asked me to make it into a feature. I really wanted to continue to work with this fi lm but what’s crazy is the fact that a project could take two years. It seemed beyond the limits of my patience, but as it evolved month after month, two years had passed and I didn’t even notice it. How was the shift from actress to fi rst-time director? It was a huge responsibility. When you’re an actor every decision you make is in the moment, but when you’re a director each decision has to really be thought out because six months before, we’re asking ourselves if the walls are going to be pink or blue! What’s also crazy is that each step is so much pressure. I don’t think I breathed for nine months. But then it’s like having a baby, it passes and you forget the pain. Are you nervous about Cannes? All my actors will be there, all 10 of

them. So, I will be at the head of all these people at once — in the fi lm they are in separate groups — so I fi nd myself in a new position bringing them to Cannes, and when I realised that it came with a lot of emotion. What’s the best advice you’ve been given ahead of Cannes? I’ve asked around and was lucky to spend some time with the director Xavier Giannoli. I also have a distributor [Jean Labadie] who is an old hand at this. Nobody really gave me advice, but told me that I really need to enjoy and be focused on the two days because the next day, there’s another movie. What do you plan to do in your ‘spare time’ in Cannes? After Valérie’s fi lm (Declaration Of War, which opened Critics’ Week), I’ll go back to Paris for the weekend to see my daughter and then come back again for my fi lm. How do you think this fi rst feature represents you as a fi lm-maker? I think it absolutely represents me at this moment. I couldn’t imagine having done a fi rst fi lm about anything else. I do hope I will be able to treat bigger subjects but this is a movie that corresponds to me.

Nancy Tartaglione

Why Are You Crying? screens tomorrow in Critics’ Week



Sunny, high 21°


Sunny intervals, high 24°

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