Why Bernardo Bertolucci Likes His Odds of Taking Home a Cannes Prize (Cannes)

The "Last Tango in Paris" and "Last Emperor" director had never won an award at the festival until being named recipient of the inaugural lifetime achievement award.

"I’m a constant dolly movement now,” joked 71-year-old Italian directing legend Bernardo Bertolucci after he was rolled in on a wheelchair to the Cannes press conference in honor of his receiving the Cannes Film Festival’s inaugural lifetime achievement Palme d’Or.

The helmer of Last Tango in Paris, Little Budda and the Oscar-winner The Last Emperor was by turns funny, self-depreciating and reflective as he fielded questions about his nearly four decades in film.

Remarking that he’d been in Cannes four times before without winning anything, Bertolucci thanked the festival for finally giving him the Palme “for this film made up of segments of all my films.”

He said he was particularly looking forward to Cannes jury president Robert de Niro, star of Bertolucci’s 1900, presenting him with the honor at the festival’s opening ceremonies tonight.
“Bob is a man of few words, so if he makes a speech it would be a miracle,” the director joked.

The two-time Oscar winner reflected on his long career – how the global success of Last Tango in Paris gave him an “incredible sense of omniscience and power,” how during the shoot of The Last Emperor he saw China “change before my eyes” — but he was most animated talking about the future of cinema, in particular 3D.

Bertolucci will shoot his first 3D film, Io e te this fall. Far from the special effects spectacles associated with current 3D features, the director promised a more intimate story with just two main characters and set almost entirely in one room.

“I saw Avatar and I loved Avatar but I wondered why should 3D only be good for fantasy and science-fiction?” he said. “Imagine if (Federico Fellini’s) 8 1⁄2 was in 3D. Or Ingmar Bergman’s Persona would have been great in 3D.”