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Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000

2000 Cannes Film Festival Buzz
Cannes 2000 - A Look Ahead

by Richard Schwartz

Film Scouts on the Riviera 2000 is presented by:

And you thought it couldn't get any worse.

Last year Cannes staked its reputation on the backs of David Cronenberg and his stacked jury, one that included such longtime Cronies as Holly Hunter and Jeff Goldblum. Nobody knows exactly what went down - perhaps they ingested some bad fois gras the previous night - but the '99 jurors effectively made a mockery of the festival competition, passing over a fine selection of deserving films by high-profile directors in the name of making some kind of obscure statement.

It was jury nullification of the worst kind. All that was missing was a bloody glove.

Rest assured, there was no rioting on the boulevards of Cannes following last May's Palme D'Or Awards Ceremony. The fallout was genuine, however, upstairs. Top dog Gilles Jacob, a Cannes staple for more than two decades, declared this year would be his last presiding over the festival. It was a farewell announcement that overshadowed even the closing of the old Petit Carlton, a favorite local drinking establishment. Sure, Jacob had already been the subject of retirement rumors over the past couple years, but don't think the Cronenberg catastrophe didn't have something to do with nudging him toward emeritus.

And so it goes that the 2000 Cannes Film Festival will mark the swan song of Gilles Jacob, his fate ultimately decided by a jury. And what more dubious way to exit than with a jury headed by schlock jock Luc Besson? That's right, the self-dubbed "French Spielberg," the man responsible for dolling up Gary Oldman in gaudy Gaultier and calling him Zorg, the guy who built the shallow two-and-a-half hour epic "The Messenger" around the shoddy acting skills of his wife Milla Jovovich, only to divorce her in the midst of principal photography. Yes, that guy will chair the jury for this year's festival.

At least Luc Besson will exhibit a small amount of commercial sensibility, a fresh change from that underground art school geeky paranoia of last year's jury chair. But with Besson at the helm, Cannes 2000 is guaranteed to be more of a circus than ever. The rest of his jurors have yet to be announced, which causes one to ponder if Elian Gonzalez has ever been to the South of France.

What to expect from this year's installment? The slate has yet to be announced excepting the opening night film, "Vatel," a historical French costume drama starring Gerard Depardieu. Well, that shouldn't help the transatlantic jet lag.

More welcome news is identity of this festival's mistress of ceremonies - Virigine Ledoyen of "The Beach." And let's not forget the Victoria's Secret fashion show, which promises to be a tougher ticket than any film premiere.

Call it brassieres and brasseries. You gotta love Cannes, baby.

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