Film Scouts Diaries

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

by Dr. R. Flickheimer, PhD.

May 18-19, 1996

Awake to the sound of bells . . . buzzers . . . horrible ringing in my ears . . . first thought - it must be Montezuma's revenge (why did I subject my liver, so well tuned to single malt whisy, to Tequila?) - but then I astutely determined that it was the cursed telephone, blaring only inches from where my head had been deposited an hour earlier. Grasping desperately for the receiver, and trying to focus on the ThinkPad clock, which blurred the numbers "06:12", I decoded the pressured voice in the midst of the static (not blaming the phone for this). It was V., who before identifying herself, launched into a heartbreaking story. After waiting until sunrise for her fully-armed boyfriend X. to arrive in the copter, she became distraught over his tardiness, failure to send an emissary (usually someone named "Antonio" helps in situations like this?), he didn't even call on the cellular phone. She had already made the usual calls to X's villa, his boat, his pilot, his current wife, and had verified with the Monaco police that there was no news of recent arrests or murders. Exhausted and confused, she requested an emergency neuropsychodynamic consultation, and temporary lodging, until she could depend on friends to wake up and safely escort her back to her native Monaco.

Given her acute distress, I of course agreed to help, and 10 minutes later heard her footsteps resonating on the rue Meynadier. She crossed the threshold to my studio/consultation suite, carrying shoes (one with a broken heel), a Marlboro windbreaker over her evening dress, mascara streaks marking her cheeks. After making herself more comfortable (she pointed out that some evening attire is very restricting), and assuming a classical psychoanalytic posture on the bed (no room for a couch), it was possible for her to unburden herself of many psychological pressures associated with her tense relationship with X, the difficulties of communicating effectively with this man who is 25 years her senior, how his possessive traits interfered with other peer-relationships that she valued intensely, and that she would leave him were it not for certain concerns, such as his promise that he would arrange to have her nostrils slit if she considered it. V's free associations led her to speak of her father in highly idealized terms, and shortly thereafter to comment on my appearance and demeanor in a similar fashion. Recognizing that this rapid development of transference augured well for a favorable outcome of brief psychotherapy, I persisted in the application of an eclectic treatment approach, including various relaxation techniques, to assist her progress. Although this treatment consumed 4 or 5 hours, with 10 to 15 minute naps for both client and therapist between repeated, intensive sessions, she seemed much improved by noon, by which time I felt it was safe to discharge her to the care of her friends.

Although the rigorous demands of the morning's emergency consultation had been somewhat draining, I was invigorated in part by the successful outcome of this treatment, and after an additional 1.5 hours of sleep, embarked upon a systematic review of the various habitats that I had encountered in Cannes. The Marina, the Croisette, the Martinez, the Carlton, the Majestic . . . The tone had softened - many egos already departed to their native LA lairs or NYC caverns - and the human foodstuffs had all but disappeared (perhaps they had all been eaten? Only a lonely duck was sighted, but remained mute when I inquired about his fellow animals, fruits, and candies). Crowds still hovered 10-deep outside the Martinez, waiting for what I know not, although perhaps the free ice cream cones distributed by amiable and scantily clad vendors could help explain this congregation in the absence of dazzling mega-stars. The Carlton Terrace was still full, but cellular phones lay quietly, and closed Filofaxes rested on the tables. The Majestic brought the only surprise. Perching on my customary seat at the bar, I automatically ordered a Glenfiddich, before detecting the amber glint of The Macallan on the second shelf.

"Just came in today" noted Henri from behind the bar, adjusting the epaulets on his red uniform. "So now I don't have to drive to Monaco for a drink?" I marvelled at the arrival of my preferred single malt, in the precise location where I had initiated these investigations some 9 days or nights before. Had my complaints about the absence of quality whisky in Cannes been recognized? Did the Majestic's managers jack into the Internet and read the harsh criticism? Or was this another clever plant by the Rosicrucians? Henri cut through the seal, and pouring a double said: "It's on me", further elevating my suspicion. After a quick sniff suggested no obvious tampering, I took the gamble (as Timothy Leary said, "I'll try anything twice"), and dove in while mentally summarizing the results of my investigations.

I ruminated briefly on the taxonomy of species observed in Cannes. The overall level of intellectual function that I had observed and documented, immediately eliminated the justification for considering these members of Homo *sapiens*, thus Homo "festivalorum" would be a more appropriate descriptive term. At least three subspecies can be readily identified, as alluded to earlier in these chronicles, and which I now term: "ascendicus", "staticus", and "cynicus".

*H.f. ascendicus* comprises largely underemployed specimens who nevertheless claim a broad range of talents and special skills. Most comment that they simultaneously work as producers, directors, actors, and writers, although few can produce permanent business addresses or phone numbers, suggesting that they tend to be migratory. They are distinguished by hyper-vigilance for opportunities, and dedicate their time to seeking the company of receptive members of H.f. staticus.

*H.f. staticus* appear older (despite cosmetic surgery, uniform hair coloration, and perfectly blended tans), more likely to have embossed or engraved business cards, and more expensive cellular phones. They rarely respond to questions about their activities, but this seems unecessary, since many members of both ascendicus and cynicus appear to study these, sometimes in excruciating detail. They move slowly, deliberately, and smile almost constantly, but tend to avoid eye contact and minimize conversations, except with other members of their own subspecies.

*H.f. cynicus* comprise largely individuals who describe themselves as journalists, or "media" professionals. They typically pay less attention to grooming and dress, and are sometimes marked by burdens of audiovisual recording equipment. They tend to drink heavily, and like H.f. ascendicus, are alert to the subtle movements of H.f. staticus, but spend more time commenting on, than actively engaging this subspecies. They are more articulate than the others, despite innebriation, and occasionally discuss noncinematic topics. There is sparse evidence that some individuals may transform from initial ascendicus, to either staticus or cynicus subspecies, but longitudinal study would be needed to determine whether the anecdotal reports are borne out.

Following these major forms, there are a profusion of other minor species - particularly those that appear to serve as accessories to H.f. staticus, and which include a predominance of females with dramatic markings and highly developed physical attributes (although one member of H.f. cynicus suggested to me that this could be a misleading result of surgical intervention). Other forms, as documented in these notes, occupy a smaller but significant niche.

Swirling the Macallan-coated ice cubes in my highball glass, I waxed nostalgic over thoughts that this expedition would soon be over, but felt a warmth from the accomplishments of this tour of duty (well, the warmth could have been explained by the double Macallan). Looking back, I felt my mission was largely accomplished. Classification of the major festival life forms. In depth documentation of the remarkable case of Q, perhaps yielding greater public attention to the sufferers of Gerstmann's syndrome and the wide-spread prevalence of finger agnosia. Important excursions documenting the penetration of Festimania to the East, but not the West of Cannes, and leading to the Festivirus hypothesis. Important therapeutic progress in the desparate and unfortunate case of V. I attempted to enumerate the costs of this expedition: (a) still unknown brain and liver damage; (b) still unaccounted for migration of many French francs from my wallet, not to mention an uninspected bundle of VISA and AMEX receipts; (c) still to be evaluated closure of coronary arteries by excessive consumption of fois gras; and (d) still mysterious disappearance of my M.C. Escher bow tie (apparently lost sometime between the beginning of the MTV party, and V's migration back to Monaco). Overall, the scientific achievements appeared to warrant the risks - not bad for a 10 day study.

Submitted with abiding respect, only slightly tinged by delirium,


Dr. Reichard Flickheimer

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