'You Talking to Me?': Cannes Festival Jury Meets the Press (Cannes)
"Are you talking to me?" and "Did you f**k my wife?" filled the packed room before a French journalist calmly handed the mic back and took his seat at this year's Festival de Cannes jury press conference.
Robert De Niro, this year's jury president, frowned slightly and asked to be reminded of the two questions again. "Are you talking to me?" and "Did you f**k my wife?" veteran moderator Henri Behar calmly repeated. Pause. Leaning forward, De Niro replied once to both. "I don't think so," he said, laughing.
De Niro was in Cannes when Taxi Driver won the Palme d'Or in 1976 and has been returning on and off to the Festival de Cannes ever since.
It was as close to controversy and chaos as this year's Jury press conference got before settling down with De Niro fielding a number of questions about how he's going to approach being in charge of deciding on a winner. And any guidelines he may be issuing his jury members with.
"I asked Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux to give us the guidelines," he said. "There are certain rules we will abide by but we will watch the movies, talk about the movies, there will be votes and we will decide."
Jury member Uma Thurman, responding to the oft-asked probe about sitting in judgment over fellow actors and filmmakers, said her methods would be infused by something Quentin Tarantino told her. "Quentin [Tarantino] is dancing around his apartment waving his Palme d'Or around in the air, saying 'Do you know what list is better than the list of people who have won one of these is? Do you? It's the list of people who don't have one.'"
De Niro took the time to point out that in picking a winner by jury from 20 titles that certainly promise difference and diversity, there will always be personal opinions that aren't reflected at the winners' ceremony.
And De Niro said if anyone stops him in the streets of NYC a month down the line and demands an explanation as to why they didn't get a Cannes nod having delivered what they thought was a prize winning turn, it would be an easy answer.
"I'll just tell them, you were the best but there was a vote and that's the way it went," he smiled.
The jury also includes novelist Linn Ullmann, whose parents actress Liv Ullmann and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman are no strangers to Croisette visitors, Brit actor Jude Law, Argentinean actress and producer Martina Gusman, Chinese producer Nansun Shi, Hong Kong director Johnnie To, Chad born director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and French helmer Olivier Assayas.