Cannes can be heaven or hell

15th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 15, 2007 (AFP) - The Cannes film festival can be heaven for some and hell for others. It brings up starkly different memories for Polish film-maker Andrzej Wajda and Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, the two said in interviews with AFPTV.

CANNES, France, May 15, 2007 (AFP) - The Cannes film festival can be heaven for some and hell for others. It brings up starkly different memories for Polish film-maker Andrzej Wajda and Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, the two said in interviews with AFPTV.

Wajda, who will be in Cannes for this year's 60th edition May 16-27, recalled how the filmfest helped launch his career while landing him in hot water in communist Poland.

Cannes helped by handing him a special jury prize when aged only 29, in 1957, for his film entitled "Kanal" in Polish.

"This prize was the beginning of everything for me," he said, recalling how French writer Jean Cocteau, president of the jury that year, had noticed the movie.

"It allowed me to make my next film," he added. "It bolstered my position in Polish cinema."

In 1978, Cannes showed Wajda's movie on the work of the anti-communist Solidarity trade union, "Man of Marble". In 1981, his "Man of Iron" on the same theme won the top prize, the Palme d'Or.

"The Palme was Solidarity's Palme," he said.

But Wajda came in for some harsh critisicm from the regime over the awards ceremony in 1981.

"James Bond, 007, was also on the stage, that is Sean Connery. And some of the Polish critics wrote that Andrzej Wajda had received a sloppy kiss from an anti-Soviet US secret agent who handed him the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm)."

Sharif's memory of his first trip to the Riviera festival in 1954 is surprising.

"It was my first contact with the international film world," said the star of "Doctor Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia" in his home near Cairo.

"Later people told me that word had gone out that a male atomic bomb was on his way.

"So the entire homosexual community of France was waiting."

His second brush with Cannes was far less pleasant in 1969 when he attended the festival for Sidney Lumet's "The Appointment".

"It was a disaster," he said. "I was sitting with the head of MGM, the producer, Sidney Lumet and Anouk Aimee.

"At one point in the film, people starting hissing and booing. What can you do? You just have to take it.

"But at the end when they turned the spotlight on us, there was only me left in the box, the others had all left ... I had to walk down the steps and there were two rows of film-goers all hissing me."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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