Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
On the Neuropsychodynamics of Festival Life Forms, Part I

by Dr. R. Flickheimer, PhD.

May 7, 1996

"Insanity!" My dear friend J, characteristically trenchant, summarized her impression of turgid torpor on the Riviera, collective hysteria, a congregation of the grandiose and the delusional, The Event also known as the Cannes Film Festival. The mysterious motive force driving this spectacle remained alien to me - for I have an agnosia, a congenital incapacity to appreciate popular culture, to recall the names of movies or their associated personnel. Instead I extract only vague impressions, without labels or categories, about all things Hollywood. But the human drama depicted by J required no translation. I could see the scene unfolding, a mass psychological experiment, involving subjects who are willing participants in a bizarre clinical trial centering on the fusion of fact and fantasy - without informed consent.

"You must come - I mean, we really need a shrink", J now emphatic, emptying her goblet.

"Of course", I poured, emptying our second bottle of Côte Rotie, "it would be irresponsible - probably unethical - not to have professional assistance on site." And we pursued that theme, pool-side assessments at the Hotel du Cap, discreet consultations at a reserved table on the Carlton terrace... a full range of services for those in psychodynamic distress. And J had a gift for me, catering to my weakness for single malt whisky, the Balvenie (double-wood-matured), must be opened at table to toast this noble venture, a merger of post-nouveau LA euphoria (and dysphoria) with good old-fashioned NY neuropsychological analysis, conveniently displaced to the neutral territory of the Côte d'Azur...

Two days later, my liver enzymes just starting to stabilize, J called - "Have you made arrangements yet?"

"Arrangements?" puzzled, trying to recount the gist of our dinner conversation, did I promise a donation to that charity?

"For Cannes - you know lodging is tight already - and you need to line up credentials..." J was already on the next page.

"Mmmm... Yes... uh... I mean, No... are you serious?" I was disoriented, confused, but a light was flickering at the end of the pier.

"Why not?" J cut to the chase.

Why not? Why not!

Thus started an Email correspondence with the initimable MLR, confirming my availability to participate in an adjunctive professional capacity as Neuropsychodynamic Consultant to Film Scouts on the Riviera. We narrowed the scope of activities that might be beneficial to both Film Scouts and the greater community. I would do whatever might be indicated, so long as it would not land me in the Bastille, nor render void my license to practice Psychology in the USA. I would be prepared to provide a daily column describing the Neuropsychodynamic impact of the films, festivities, and venues on the participants and hangers-on. I would serve as a Naturalist; documenting the progression of psychopathology, the decompensation of those with genuine investments of ego and/or cash, much as Darwin chronicled the survival struggles of Red Footed Boobies in the Galapagos.

Further, I would provide on-site consultation to those who may be existentially challenged by either the content or process of the program (understanding that there is substantial morbidity associated with either attending, or perhaps more critically, not attending, key screenings; and further appreciating the potentially devastating neuropsychological impact associated with either social or financial transactions sliding into the bouilliabaise). On-site availability of analytic and consultative services regarding these crises would be an essential component of public health and safety.

I prepared to bring to the Festival:

1. my license to practice, and a copy of the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles;

2. documents confirming my active memberships in a number of prestigious international scientific organizations;

3. a Pentium Thinkpad w/ active matrix display, 28.8 modem, lap-link cable, and software for word processing, image display, graphics presentation, data analysis, and computerized neurocognitive assessment (this would be essential for rapid neuropsychodiagnostic exams outside screening rooms, or on the beach at Cap d'Antibes);

4. a voltage converter/conditioner;

5. expired contracts indicating payments for national radio and TV commercial spots in accordance with AFTRA and SAG guidelines;

6. one set of evening attire, one pocket square given to me personally by Nicole Miller, one M.C. Escher bow tie, one well worn Armani silk jacket, two pairs of Armani slacks, 10 clean T-shirts, two Speedo bathing suits (American cut), and one pair of collapsible Ray-Ban Wayfarer II's (black, matte);

7. a passable knowledge of Rhône wines.

I told some friends about the expedition. They laughed, considering my difficulty distinguishing Mel Gibson from Nick Nolte. One dear friend, KP, sent me a primer - constructed from People magazine clippings - replete with annotations. Explications of the tangled relationships among Nicholas Cage, Patricia Arquette, and the Coppola family. Vital stats on Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Pamela Lee, Sandra Bullock, Babe... My eyes glazed over. But wait, Sharon Stone, purportedly asked to join MENSA? Now we're on my turf... better pack the IQ testing materials to determine whether this is a publicity stunt or this woman really does maintain substantial retro-orbital (behind the eyes) assets. Julia Roberts' "mini-nervous-breakdown"? - I can't recall this descriptor in the taxonomy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders. Better be prepared for a rapid and accurate psychodiagnostic assessment and triage. Ah yes, many challenges ahead, a dirty job, but... I can feel already that Cannes will be a safer place for my selfless dedication and commitment.

Submitted with eagerness to contribute to the collective health, Your faithful consultant,

Dr. Reichard Flickheimer

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