Cannes fest, Critics sidebar team for pic

Rivals light up 'Langlois' doc

PARIS — The Cannes Film Festival and Critics Week sidebar are putting aside their traditional rivalry to jointly present a film, Jacques Richard’s docu “Henry Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque.”

The three-and-a-half-hour pic, about the life and times of the legendary creator of France’s film archive and museum, will be screened out of competition on the morning of May 21.

“The festival had been looking for a film they could show jointly with Critics Week for a while,” Richard told Daily Variety. “This one is of interest to a sufficiently wide range of people that they chose it.”

The story of Langlois and his struggles with the French state, which were a prelude to the mass protests that spilled over and paralyzed the Cannes Film Festival in 1968, are a central part of French film lore. Some 65 talking heads appear in the docu, ranging from Jean-Luc Godard to Jack Valenti, who presented Langlois with an Oscar in 1974 for his work preserving films.

Docu, seven years in the making, was initially refused funding from the CNC and might never have seen the light of day were it not for Richard’s determination. Vet feature and documentary helmer made the pic for around $300,000.

“I’m very happy to have come this far,” he said.

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