Silver’s golden age

At Deauville tribute, helmer sees new day for H'wood

DEAUVILLE, France — A beaming Joel Silver took the stage in Deauville Saturday night to accept the American Film festival’s tribute.

This followed a triumphantly kinetic sample reel that proved when you want to see handsome protagonists avoid really cool explosions, Silver’s the man to assemble the cast and crew.

“When we made these movies, I never thought they’d be featured in a festival like this,” Silver told an appreciative crowd of 2000. “They were never the darlings of the critics, but people seem to like them. To come here and see all the titles listed in the catalogue makes me very proud.”

Praising the cross-pollination of talent from all over the world, particularly Asia and Australia, Silver proclaimed, “American film is being blurred now. All around the world people are coming to an American aesthetic. It’s interesting that we continue to refer to them as ‘American films’ but it really is film from everywhere for everybody.”

On the eve of a 10-month shoot for “The Matrix” 2 and 3, Silver was also unabashedly enthusiastic about the filmmaking possibilities to come: “I really believe that what we’re going to see is the new golden age of Hollywood.”

Halle Berry, on hand for the showing of Silver-produced “Swordfish” commented, “There are such negative stereotypes swirling around models. I’ve known Joel for 10 years, and it was Joel who helped me prove that I was really an actress stuck inside a model’s body.”

DeCillo opened fest

“Double Whammy,” by Tom DiCillo — who has brought 4 of his 5 features to Deauville and who won the fest’s first competition in 1995 with “Living in Oblivion” — opened the fest Friday night, with Elizabeth Hurley and Denis Leary in attendance.

On Sunday, Jack Valenti flew in from Venice to give French helmer Gilles Paquet-Brenner the Michel D’Ornano screenwriting award, sponsored by the M.P.A. Security staff had to hold back surging crowds who turned out to see home-grown stars Marion Cotillard, Stomy Bugsy, Patrick Bruel and Ophelie Winter in winning pic “Pretty Things.”

“A Knight’s Tale” received a warm reception. When asked why so many Australian actors are landing roles in Hollywood of late, Heath Ledger deadpanned that it was simply the payoff from “The Actors Factory program,” a scheme under which the Australian government “implants microchips so we can convince in a wide range of roles and microphones so we don’t have to be miked,” making Australians a dependable and economical choice.

Competition, comprised of 10 American indies, runs through Friday. Winners will be announced Sunday.

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