Trail blazers talk

Series of Peckinpah events honor helmer

The late maverick American auteur Sam Peckinpah was feted in Cannes courtesy of a collaboration between the Directors Fortnight, Variety, Turner Classic Movies, Euro i.s.p. firm Tiscali, and Tattinger champagne.

The round of events began Monday with the presentation of a pristine new print of Peckinpah’s 1962 Western, “Ride the High Country,” which played to a packed Fortnight theater.

Screening was followed by a panel discussion of Peckinpah’s art and creative impact, hosted by Fortnight director Olivier Pere and including Variety executive editor, international, Steven Gaydos; American helmer Monte Hellman, (who is himself being honored in Cannes with a “Cannes Classics” screening of his film “Two-Lane Blacktop”); Peckinpah biographer Gerard Camy and Uncut magazine editor Michael Bonner.

Hellman, who co-edited Peckinpah’s “Killer Elite” and cast the crusty helmer in his own revisionist Western, “China 9, Liberty 37,” said he disagreed with the common notion that Peckinpah substantially changed over the years of his embattled career. In Hellman’s view, “He hid more and more behind a mask of machismo, but he never stopped being a poet.”

The panel was then followed by a champagne reception on the roof of the Noga Hilton which drew international industryites such as Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart, “Crash” producer Mark Harris, Turner Classic Movies U.K. channel manager Alan Musa, Tisacali producer Rob Andrews, Dutch helmer-producer Ate de Jong and German producer Karel Dirka, in town to finalize terms on what he called “the thing no one thinks exists — a giant German equity fund.”

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