'Insomnia,' 'Sunshine State' also hits

DEAUVILLE, France — Deauville kicked off a cinematically successful first weekend on Friday with Yank comedy “I’m With Lucy,” produced by French major Gaumont.

Director Jon Sherman delighted the crowd with a speech in French in which he admitted that although Jean-Luc Godard was an early hero, “I’m sure Godard wouldn’t like my movie.”

The affection in the packed auditorium was palpable when ousted Canal Plus topper and jury prexy Pierre Lescure walked in.

Christopher Nolan’s “Insomnia” was a crowd pleaser, as was John Sayles’ “Sunshine State.” “Last Party 2000″ and “The Laramie Project” gave French festgoers fodder for debates about what American society is really like.

Gallic newspapers and magazines are taking the 28th American film fest and the one-year anniversary of 9/11 as an opportunity to ask whether Hollywood’s response to last year’s terrorist attacks has been to produce fewer violent action films.

On Sunday afternoon, Jack Valenti gave the MPAA’s $16,200 Michel D’Ornano screenwriting prize to “Hypnotized and Hysterical (Hairdresser Wanted),” directed by Claude Duty. “This is a festival that has stood the test of time,” Valenti told the crowd on his 28th visit.

On his third visit to Deauville, Steven Soderbergh introduced “Full Frontal.” “You may not be aware that Deauville has a very high profile in the U.S. and directors are extremely happy to be invited,” he told the audience.

Tom Hanks, Sam Mendes and producers Richard and Dean Zanuck were on hand for Sunday’s gala screening of “Road to Perdition.” Still to come are tributes to thesps Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford and producer Robert Evans. Fest closes Sunday.

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