Alec Baldwin, James Toback and Thierry Frémaux in Seduced and Abandoned
Alec Baldwin and James Toback talk Seduced and Abandoned:
Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics on the Cannes marketplace:
Art and commerce collide in Cannes.
On the festival's red carpet each night, international auteurs unveil new films from around the world, movies that mainly cater to art house audience and cinephiles. Meanwhile, inside the Palais des Festivals and in hotel lobbies throughout Cannes, international buyers and sellers negotiate deals for films that would never get a slot screening in the Festival. The Marche du Film, the organized marketplace for buying and selling movies run by the Festival, gives the industry a place to screen and sell an array of movies, genre pictures, b-movies, films from other festivals and even projects in development.
Without the Marché du Film, festival head Thierry Frémaux admits in Seduced and Abandoned (the new documentary about Cannes by James Toback and Alec Baldwin), the Festival itself couldn't survive or thrive. It's the dealmaking that draws business to the Croisette that supports the event's ambitious programming, Frémaux explains to Toback and Baldwin in the documentary (screening here at the festival).
If you've seen Albert and David Maysles 1963 documentary Showman, you can catch a glimpse of the Cannes marketplace 50 years ago. Today, the Marché is more organized.
Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics. Photo: Irene Cho
Tom Bernard, the co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, who's attended the Cannes festival and market for more than 30 years says that both the artistic and the commercial sides of Cannes have evolved considerably in three decades.
“I think the only thing you can say is the same is they always have the best movies in the world,” Bernard said yesterday during a FilmLinc Daily Buzz interview at the Splendid Hotel here in Cannes. “But it was really different back then. The class of people here were very, very different then. They were sort of out of the movie Ed Wood, you know, there were lots of big, fat, bald guys with blondes—big, buxom blondes—on their arm, and always smoking a cigar.”
James Toback, who spent every day of last year's Cannes Film Festival with Alec Baldwin and a film crew interviewing buyers, sellers and filmmakers up and down the Croisette, is realistic about the tension between the creative side of moviemaking and the cut-throat business side.
“Why does one get involved with movies in the first place?” Toback wondered aloud, sitting outside the Carlton Hotel with Alec Baldwin here in Cannes yesterday during a FilmLinc Daily Buzz interview. “The answer is sometimes quite simple: to get rich, to get famous, on one extreme; to do movies that I feel compelled to do would be at the other extreme.”
For Seduced and Abandoned, Toback and Baldwin talked with Roman Polanski, Ryan Gosling, Martin Scorsese, Jessica Chastain, Francis Ford Coppola, financier Avi Lerner and many other notables from both the film and finance worlds. They also included a quote from Orson Welles that represents a persistent tension between art and commerce in the movies.
“I look back on my life and its 95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% actually making them.”
Filmmakers like Toback, Coppola, Scorsese and others realize that to make movies you have to engage buyers, sellers and financiers—many of them ultra-wealthy men who want to be part of moviemaking—like those who are everywhere here in Cannes.
“I have a line that's actually worked twice,” Toback continued, explaining how he's lured rich people to fund his creativity, “where I say: 'Two hundred years after you're dead the only reason people will know you were on this planet is that your name will be on the screen as the producer of my movie.' Now, I couldn't do that and say that if I didn't believe it.” He added, “The problem is getting someone else to share that belief. And that's something that is often difficult, but I think it's worth a shot. And if you come in with an expectation that money is going to be there when you need it, I believe you actually increase your chances of getting it.”
For Toback, Baldwin and others, surviving in film today can mean making tough choices to satisfy the artistic impulses as well as business interests.
“I think most people nowadays… you make a film that you do for money, and then you make a film that you do for the art,” Baldwin told the Daily Buzz. He said that he looks at an actor like Robert Downey Jr. who worked with James Toback on indie films years ago and now makes big money attached to the Iron Man movie franchise.
“I'm sure there are times that Downey's sitting in his trailer,” Alec Baldwin offered, “putting on the idiotic space helmet, and going out there and flying around some green screen somewhere, thinking: 'God, what I wouldn't give to be in a foxhole with Kathryn Bigelow right now, doing some gritty political drama.'”