De Niro, Depardieu in tiny hotel rooms at Cannes

 20 May 2017 - 13:11

De Niro, Depardieu in tiny hotel rooms at Cannes
A poster for the Netflix movie "Okja" in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, is displayed on the Croisette. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe


Cannes, France: The Cannes film festival -- the world's greatest movie showcase -- celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

AFP asked actors and directors who made their names at the festival to recount their highs and lows at the star-studded event.

Robert De Niro

Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro, who says he's probably been to Cannes eight or nine times, admits he still savours "the glamour of it, the excitement of it". 

"One year I remember -- when I was doing '1900' with Gerard Depardieu -- Gerard and I drove there and I met Marty Scorsese -- we were about to do 'Taxi Driver' (1976)," he said. 

"Both Gerard and I were staying at the Carlton, they found us a little room because there was nothing else available -- he and I in small rooms at the Carlton."

In 2011, he chaired the jury, an honour awarded for an outstanding career. 

"Being president of the jury was a lot of fun. I hope they ask me to do it again. I don't know how many years you have to wait."

Albert Serra

Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra was just 19 when he first went to Cannes with a bunch of friends on a whim when the festival was on, long before he even thought of making films. Without any accreditation, they couldn't get in and spent the time wandering around the city. 

More than a decade later, he was back and this time he did get in -- with his low-budget "Quixotic/Honor de Cavelleria" running in the 2006 Director's Fortnight. 

What surprised him was the vast and impressive scale of the event -- and the fact that "everyone is walking around in tuxedos". 

"I feel great there because there's no snobbery. You share different moments with loads of people, including famous people, in the most natural way.. 

"Oddly enough, Cannes has this anarchic side. Everyone I've met there, like Catherine Deneuve, has been really nice."

Yousry Nasrallah 
One of Egypt's best-known directors, Yousry Nasrallah has been a well-known face at Cannes for decades, first as a critic and then as a director with "Summer Thefts" which ran in the 1988 Director's Fortnight. 

"When you go with one of your own films, it's much more nerve-racking, much more work. People think it's all for show, that you go to Cannes just to be photographed, that it's all about the jet-set but it's not at all. 

"Cannes is a lot of work, it's really tough. 

"Cannes is a huge machine which can take you up to the clouds and which can also crush you. You're a star for 36 hours and they move on to the next person."

Before his days as a director, Nasrallah was a regular visitor to the festival as a critic, meeting Federico Fellini in 1980 when he presented "City of Women". 

"My best memory is when I was a critic, watching 'City of Women' at 8:30 am, having the chance to meet Fellini and have coffee with him. That was extraordinary." 

"Fellini was very entertaining, someone who was very simple and communicative and also very funny, who immediately put you at ease and told you impossible stories about the cinema -- always a bit exaggerated, clown-like, just great."

Three years later, he came back with legendary Egyptian director Youssef Chahine and met French director Robert Bresson: "one of the great gods of cinema". 

"For someone who wants to make films, to have rubbed shoulders with and even met and had tea and polite conversation with people like that, it gives you a sense of: This is it, I can do it. I can be a filmmaker."