Grand jury reports for Duty

Celebs meet for Cannes conference

CANNES — The jury press conference is a ritual confrontation between the unwilling and the unready. It is the first chance of the festival for journalists to lob some questions at some real live stars. And it is the first occasion that the nine members of the jury are called on to act like a unit in public. Net result is unenlightening, but a comforting reaffirmation of stereotypes.

Wong Kar-wai said he was “very impressed” by the work of his colleagues. Ziyi Zhang said judging “is about more than one thing, the director’s vision, the storytelling…” and multi-cultural Monica Bellucci played down the importance of a movie’s nationality. She batted one back at a over-loquatious hack: “You just said it, a good film is a good film.”

Delightful Patrice Leconte broke ranks in the best possible way, warning that he will battle for the films he really likes. “I’m going to fight against the communal stairwell syndrome. That’s when the thing has to be repainted and you end up with beige, a color nobody is really in favor of and nobody is against.”

Just as important as the back and forth of banal questions and carefully conformist responses, the conference is an early opportunity for the fashion stakes to be weighed in on.

Although this has to be the best-looking jury of all time, the omens were not good. Monica Bellucci was sporting the kind of fringe that disappeared with Mireille Mathieu, while Helena Bonham Carter was an eloquent gypsy with big hair and too much makeup.

Picking up from Wong’s cue, indoor sunglasses are definitely in this summer. Samuel L. Jackson and Lucretia Martell picked up that riff. Wong also joked that the only decision taken at their first meeting Tuesday was that sundresses and smoking were both to be permitted in the jury room.

Best moments — as usual — came when moderator Henri Behar stepped in to prevent the jury from expressing an opinion on somthing they maybe shouldn’t have. Like why there are no films or jurors from Bollywood, or whether Wong had discussed the reasons the festival had picked him to be jury president. “You mean his films are not enough?” he shrieked. “Fellini is dead and Bergman doesn’t travel.”

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