le 17 octobre 2015
The title of this commentary might seem insolent when one first reads it. But to me, naming an autobiography under the terms "Citizen Cannes" -- which I first thought was an editor decision, but after seeing the original French edition, makes me think it's an author's choice -- is to me the most pompous and complacent idea for a book I've ever seen. Especially as the content of this book didn't impress me much.
In this autobiography, we have a book filled with gossips that are so insignificant that I am not interested to enumerate them. But in general either those tattle-tales concern evening receptions putting into attention some artists or politicians; people whose presence glorify Mr. Jacob's image and his festival (Chaplin, Hitchcock, Jeanne Moreau, Koffi Annan, Jacques Chirac, etc.), or they concern artists that visited the festival. For that second point, this is where Mr.Jacob goes full job. If, on one side, he condemns or throws reproaches to artists for various professional reasons that didn't put in good value the festival and Mr. Jacob's self-image (Isabella Rossellini, Isabelle Adjani, Jean Cocteau, Françoise Sagan, Roberto Benigni, Gérard Depardieu, Roman Polanski, Patrice Chéreau), he takes the time to adulate others for their movies, their charm, and their personality (Isabelle Huppert, Lars Von Trier, Clint Eastwood, Emir Kusturica, etc.). Of course, I won't deny that some of these artists have egos that must have pulled "the hairs" of Gilles Jacob. But when that man puts in some people's mouths certain statements taken out of context or some that are disrespectful, one must not be surprised that some of these artists involved would be, or were, miscontent about that book. I think in particular of Lars von Trier himself who stated in an interview for the Melancholia movie that he was hurt and angry over some of Gilles Jacob's words over his clothing when he started coming at Cannes and for the Manderlay premiere. Putting a phrase where Von Trier supposedly stated that he was normalising himself by wearing a tuxedo. A phrase that made me think instantly, back when I first read the boook in 2009, that if von Trier would read this page, he would be pissed off by Jacob's superficiality; over words that I was sure were taken out of context and meant sarcastically. And I am sure that other personalities like Roberto Benigni and Isabella Rossellini must have been quite livid about some things written in that book too.
Now let's make one thing clear, my harsh opinion isn't only there because this book demeaned or put terms into the mouths of artists I respect. No. My harsh opinion comes from the belief that when a majority of this book is nothing more than a list of rubbish one finds in scandal sheets like Paris Match, this doesn't give me a nice impression of this festival whose reputation depends a lot on artists who, according to the festival's whims, can be either glorified or be spit at as if they were the world's scum-suckers. In a superficial environment that I find vulgar and close-minded, with a nasty and racist press, a world that behaves more like the European equivalent of Hollywood.
Personally, I would have preferred a more diplomat of a autobiography, less beach rags, a book that would have offered more relevant and enriching content about the festival (ex: the non-professional public that frequents the festival, aspiring filmmakers who present their first films).