Stars and Stripes Arrive at Deauville Film Festival

Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Francis Ford Coppola, Todd Solondz, Shirley MacLaine, Naomi Watts, Ellen Barkin, Kate Bosworth and Danny Glover head to French seaside town.


PARIS -- Stars and stripes will fly this year at the 37th annual Deauville American Film Festival. Specifically, stars. This year, the fest that has been criticized in recent years for losing its glam factor, is stepping things up with a star-studded lineup that’s poised to bring some excitement to the calm Normandy seaside town.

“Everyone has a short memory,” fest director Bruno Barde pointed out in an interview, adding: “Just a few years ago, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Michael Douglas and George Clooney were in Deauville.”

However, more editions have seen a drop in star-power and, as a result, less buzz in national and international press.

Yet Barde doesn’t see a lack of talent as a sign of the fest’s demise:“My job isn’t to bring stars to Deauville – it’s to bring American society there trough images,” he explained, adding: “In Deauville, you’ll discover American society through the artists present. Sometimes there are stars and sometimes there aren’t. It’s a reflection of the industry at a given time.”

This year’s fest will encompass all sides of the American film biz from gala premieres to first-time competition titles to documentaries to business meetings and even to an increasingly important part of the U.S. big screen biz, namely its small screen biz.

“Of course, I love stars – they’re enchanting,” Barde said, adding: “But we can’t forget that the story of cinema is also about the filmmakers. We can’t allow the stars to replace the filmmakers just because we’re in a society that often does that, a society that prefers a huge photo to writing.”

Photo-crazed press and fans will have several opportunities to snap pix with an A-list army of Hollywood talents expected to storm the Normandy beaches during the fest’s Sept. 2 – 11 run.

Deauville’s red carpets will sparkle once again when Francis Ford Coppola, Todd Solondz, Shirley MacLaine, Naomi Watts, Ellen Barkin, Kate Bosworth and Danny Glover head to the Normandy seaside town.

“Last year, we realized that when Zac Efron was on the red carpet, the young people went crazy, but many older people had no idea who he was,” Barde said, adding: “We realized we need to show classic cinema, but also the stars of tomorrow. That’s what we’re here for.”

Deauville will fete classic Hollywood cinema and, at the same time, look forward with a focus on New Hollywood.

New this year is a New Hollywood prize that will go to Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain. Chastain will make an appearance on the fest’s opening day to accept her award before jetting off.

The fest will also stay young with a competition section featuring nine first-time directors among its 14 titles.

“The nine first films in competition represent the future of cinema,” Barde said, adding: “‘Classic’ doesn’t mean old. It means it’s a reference. Mozart, Victor Hugo and Balzac may not be around anymore, but we’re lucky that in U.S. cinema, people like Coppola or MacLaine are classic, but they’re still working and making movies.”

The fest will pay homage to Coppola and MacLaine’s long and ongoing careers.

“Shirley MacLaine represents American film in all its forms. Sweet Charityis a cult movie for me,” Barde said. He added of fellow homage-recipient Danny Glover: “Danny Glover isn’t just an actor – he’s a major producer too.”

While bringing talents in for Gallic TV screentime isn’t a fest priority, the small screen will indeed have its moment of glory once again as Deauville Season Two kicks off.

The fest will put the small screen in the spotlight for the second year in a row with TV sidebar “Deauville Season 2.” Canal Plus’ mega international project Borgia will host its premiere for festgoers complete with the series’ first two episodes that will air on the pay TV network in Gaul this Fall. Borgia creator Tom Fontana will be in town for a Masterclass as will The Shield producer Shawn Ryan, who will screen episodes of his latest project The Chicago Code. Episodes of Episodes, Justified and The Killing will also screen.

French and U.S. screenwriters will meet for a public round-table talk animated by casting director turned writer/director Stephane Foenkinos.

“It’s important for them to meet each other,” Barde said of the Franco-American small screen rendez-vous, adding: “Deauville has always been the place to meet people.”

In between all of the schmoozing, fest organizers are hoping real business to be conducted as well.

New this year to Deauville is the Film Corner, a private fest sidebar for industry pros where buyers and sellers can screen and watch films in partnership with the Marche du Film’s Cinanco VOD portal.

“It’s not a real market, since we invite everyone, but we want Deauville to become a possibility too.” Barde said of the 50 execs expected at the Film Corner.

The festival plans to organize private lunches for visiting talents to meet each other in an intimate, privileged setting unique to Deauville. In Deauville, stars aren’t surrounded by paparazzi, fans and media and bogged down by busy schedules like at other fests such as Venice, Cannes and Toronto.

Plus, the PGA will join French producers association the APC for a Franco-American round table focusing on “Producing in 2011: the new rules of the game” on Monday, Sept. 5. International co-productions, new distribution models and multi-format media are on the agenda.

Deauville will mix fashion with film this year after giving legendary designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac a carte blanche to choose his favorite titles.

Deauville is unique in Europe and perhaps the world. For 10 days, we show every facet of U.S. cinema from features to documentaries to behind-the-scenes of the industry,” Barde said, adding: “When we understand America, we understand the world. America isn’t the world, but it has integrated the world. America ingests absolutely everything, it’s a melange of cultures and has a lot to teach everyone.”

“We’re not here to please the four big TV Networks in France. No one knows cinema like we do. It’s been our job for the past 30 years to present all forms of American cinema in Deauville.”

So what does the fest want the film biz and public audiences to take away from this year’s fest besides autographed photos of their favorite celebrities? “People listening to the life that beats in the heart of the film industry: that’s Deauville,” Barde said.