Deauville has been an equestrian centre and an elegant seaside rendez-vous ever since Louis Napoleon Bonaparte’s illegitimate half brother, the Duc de Morny, drained its marches in the 1860s and transformed it into a haven for monied Londoners and Parisians.
These days, every September, it is the Americans that make up the tourist numbers, descending for the town’s American Film Festival.
This year promises to be a stunner judging from the list of artists – either in competition or being honored for their contribution to cinema – featured at 39th edition of this mini-Cannes.
Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Behind the Candelabra’ opened proceedings and Michael Douglas, who won critical acclaim for his performance as the virtuoso pianist Valentino Liberace, spoke about his experience making the movie: “I had lot of time. As you know I was getting over a cancer, we had to postpone the movie for a year, so I had lot of time to rehearse. You had the responsibility to try to recreate a live person, which is the first time I’ve done that.”
For Soderbergh, this was the last time he would be plugging a film to the world’s media given his recent decision to quit the big screen. As he explained: “My future is in television. In a month from now I’m shooting a 10-hour television series. It’s called ‘The Knick’ and it’s set in a hospital in New York in the year 1900. It’s very entertaining.”
The first of four lifetime achievement tributes awarded this year at Deauville went to Cate Blanchett. The Australian has committed herself to performing theatre back in her homeland, but has vowed not to follow Soderbergh in deserting cinema.
After receiving her own cabin on the beach – the festival’s signature prize – Blanchett took time to answer some questions from euronews; namely which of the many characters she’s played has she loved the most?
She was said it was less about the roles and more about the direction: “I try not to fall in love with any of my characters. I suppose it’s more the experience of making the film. I’ve loved working with Ron Howard on ‘The Missing’ in Santa Fe, and I absolutely adored being in San Francisco with Woody Allen and the gang. Probably working with Todd Haynes was up there… and of course, Steven Soderbergh, who’s been here at the festival. I’d work with him again in a heart-beat if he wasn’t going to give it all up.”
Forest Whitaker was on hand to promote Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ – in which he stars as a servant named Cecil Gaines, based on the real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents between 1952 and 1986.
For Whitaker, production of the film was an emotional but rewarding experience: “There was a great degree of difficulty in trying to develop this character. There are very specific things to consider. Because Lee made this journey over such a long period of time, the aging process, to carry with me the experiences. But in that process I found, even in the hard work, a joy inside of it. “
Featuring, amongst others, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, John Cussack, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, Oprah Winfrey, Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey – ‘The Butler’ seems to desperately cram as many stars as possible into each and every frame.
Slammed by critics and tipped for the Oscars, it does have one notable fan; current US president Barack Obama says he cried watching the civil-rights drama unfold.