Next stop L.A. for Gaul’s Jules Verne fest

Event will have a sister edition in October

PARIS — Before giving the world cinematic trailblazers the Lumiere Bros. and Georges Melies, France provided visionary author Jules Verne.

For 14 years, the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival (March 22-27), headquartered at the largest surviving historic cinema in Europe, has built a following that ranges from devoted to rabid.

On opening night of the competitive six-day selection of docs and features devoted to ecology and exploration, Duke Collister, general manager of Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium (built in 1926) took the stage of Paris’ Grand Rex (built in 1932) to confirm the event will have a sister edition in L.A. in October.

“We have spoken with the mayor of Los Angeles and founded an advisory committee,” Collister told the 2,700-person capacity crowd. 

“Amateur night” might describe most French premieres and awards ceremonies, but the Jules Verne folks know from showmanship: An impressive replica of Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom welcomed producer-turned-director Frank Marshall, there to showl “Eight Below” complete with live huskies and pic’s star, Paul Walker.

A giant monolith materialized to welcome thesp Keir Dullea and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who exchanged their views, respectively, of working for Stanley Kubrick vs. moon-walking for all mankind, before a showing of Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Christopher Lee accepted the lifetime achievement honor in witty, slangy French, while Ernest Borgnine was there to accept the Jules Verne trophy.

The fest, whose founding members included Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Thor Heyerdahl and whose advisory board includes James Cameron and Jane Goodall, also nabbed a reigning monarch, Prince Albert II of Monaco.

In 1906, Prince Albert I (the current prince’s great-great-grandfather) set out from Monaco to reach the northernmost reaches of the Arctic. 

Next month, Albert II will try to reach the North Pole using non-motorized dog sleds, as the journey would have been made 100 years ago.  “We’ll set out from base camp on April 12 or 13 and hope to reach the Pole on the 16 or 17,” the soft-spoken prince told an appreciative crowd.

Jury member Rod Roddenberry, whose father, “Star Trek” creator Gene, died in 1991 when his son was only 17, showed a sampler from “Trek Nation,” the doc he’s been making about Trekkies around the globe.

Meanwhile, Marshall, in response to auds wanting to know if there would be an “Indiana Jones 4,” said: “Yes, of course. We’re definitely working on the script right now. I think we’ll start shooting next year.” 

If that prediction is as prophetic as some of Verne’s flights of fancy, maybe the L.A. edition of the fest will have its opener.

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