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Martin Scorsese lit up the Lumiere Film Festival, receiving the festival’s tribute award in an epic ceremony Friday night.
Emily Mortimer, Berenice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius, Clemence Poesy, Francois Cluzet, Max von Sydow and Jane Birkin were among those that joined festival director Thierry Fremaux in his hometown of Lyon to honor the legendary director.
Salma Hayek presented him with the award. Hayek’s husband, Francois Pinault, who heads luxury group Kering and supports Scorsese’s film restoration group The Film Foundation through its Gucci brand, was also in attendance.
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami flew in from China to surprise Scorsese at the ceremony. The Palme d’Or winner debuted a short film he made as a tribute to Scorsese of two horses frolicking in the snow.
The tribute included a karaoke rendition of the actors and directors singing New York, New York on stage.
Robert De Niro, who had been expected to attend, was stuck in New York filming Barry Levinson’s Bernie Madoff movie Wizard of Lies, and instead sent a video message. “That’s why I’m wearing a hat,” he said, taking off his topper to display a bald head. “Lots of love,” he said.
In a speech emphasizing his preservation work, Scorsese said he had just been in Paris with director Bertrand Tavernier, who is working on a documentary about cinema. He praised what he saw of the film-in-progress as a “revelation” and defended the documentary as one of the few means to teach film history.
“The best of these films on cinema are not merely montages of pop superficiality, like ‘the 10 best suspense films’ or ‘the 10 best kisses,’ or ‘Garbo Talks,’ who cares, she talked,” he said.
“Making films, the problem today is the infusion of all the moving images all around us constantly, 24 hours a day and night, particularly for the young ones who are growing up knowing only the world through that. They desperately need someone to at least begin some sort of guidance,” he continued, before pleading with the Hollywood powers-that-be.
“We tried to change the mindset in Hollywood 25 years ago with The Film Foundation, which did very well I think, what I’m saying now is for those that ‘own’ those films, licenses, rights, please don’t make it harder for filmmakers on the level of Tavernier and serious filmmakers that are making films about their own lives through cinema and could enlighten the younger generation in ways that are more than just six seconds on an iPhone.”
In a master class earlier in the day, Scorsese said he still tries to keep his independent spirit. “I always thought I’d be a Hollywood director, but I didn’t make it, because it felt so different. Films don’t belong there, they’re outside. And every now and then I think I can get in, but it doesn’t work,” he said. “The trick has always been to get as independent a film made as possible within the system.”
As an example, he said his next project in the pipeline, The Irishman starring De Niro, still hasn’t found the funding to come together. When Fremaux joked that as the Scorsese and De Niro team it should be easy to secure financing, he said that it’s not always a sure thing. “If you’re doing well you can do another film if, one, you agree with the subject matter and, two, if it’s a film that others want. If it’s a film you want to do with a few friends, you have to find another way to do it.”
Scorsese showed the trailer for his first TV show, Vinyl, co-produced with Mick Jagger, to the crowd. He wouldn’t divulge much about the series, except that it’s “about cocaine and music and stuff.”
“I hate to call it a pilot because it’s a movie, really,” he said, before showing it to the rapt audience. He added that the trailer is “tame” compared to what is in just the first episode.
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