20th May 2000

Kaufman on Cannes

posted in `Roids |

For nearly thirty years I have been a faithful attendant of and participant in the festivities known as the Cannes Film Festival and Market. Over this period, the Troma Team and I have achieved a sort of notoriety based on our outlandish behavior and unique cinematic contributions (as well as what others might call my unconventional sartorial sense ). Cannes has always been a great opportunity for the Troma Team to commune with our global fan base. In other words, we can get drunk with people who like us .

The Cannes Troma Team was the largest it has ever been this year. Over 40 strong, Troma woke up the world with its rowdy parades (and demonstrations ) up and down the Croisette . Many interns from around the world (Germany, Switzerland, France, England) gave two weeks of their lives (and slept in the subhuman conditions of the three Tromapartments) to spread the Troma message. My thanks to Tobias Suhm, his lovely girlfriend Katja, Olivier Tendon, Andre Mistier, Lucille Pivert and all the others who gave their time to help us out. Special thanks are also due to Florian Schuura and Ash L’ange, two filmmakers who commemorated our efforts in Cannes in a documentary entitled Troma’s War. We even met some breakdancers on the street who helped us promote in front of the Carlton Hotel.

This kind of appreciation and good will is worth more than a Palm D’Or, an Oscar or even a Golden Globe . The results of the efforts of all these people were evident at the premiere screenings of TERROR FIRMER – all three screenings of the film were overflowing with people. There was a genuine excitement surrounding Troma. The enthusiasm of the young people rubbed off on all those around us. Every year we are invited to more parties, due to the fact that we are always willing to get completely drunk and embarrass ourselves, to the entertainment of the other exhibitors.

Despite the great films and filmmakers that were at Cannes – Kevin Smith with Dogma, John Sayles with Limbo, the Blair Witch Project guys – there seemed to be a general lack of excitement for the Festival. It is no longer the nonstop celebration of cinema I remember from my youth. The fact that a film like Entrapment would be an Official Selection of the Festival betrayed just how short the Cannes Film Festival has sold itself. Good films that are selected are dwarfed by multimillion dollar publicity campaigns for shit films that have no business being involved in the festival. The resulting languor manifested itself in everything from the press coverage (down once again), attendance (down), and party size (scaled back so far that there was barely enough crack cocaine for all the Eurotrash hangers on).

Some of the best films in Cannes were part of the Market . Troma movies, like Back Road Diner and Tainted, got huge responses from those who were able to get in to see them. The sense of adventure and innovation that once marked the Festival lives on in groundbreaking films from around the world. The cinema of Spain and Italy (including Dario Argento’s The Phantom of the Opera) outstrips almost any contributions the Americans have made recently.

Yet, there was a pervasive sense of death which inevitably accompanied the stench of the rotting corpse of the Cannes Film Festival. Perpetually subverting itself to the agendas of megaconglomerates and Hollywood interests has made rendered the Festival unrecognizable to longtime devotees. That is not to say that the Festival cannot be revivified (like the redneck zombies in the eponymous Redneck Zombies), but that it currently shows no signs of doing so.

With the decline of Cannes, the world is looking to other festivals for exciting cinema. This has allowed other excellent festivals around the world to rise in prominence and take the place of Cannes. Rome’s FantaFestival, the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy and Horror, the Sitges (Spain) Film Festival, Tokyo’s Fantastic Film Festival and the FantAsia Film Festival in Montreal are a few of the cutting edge places where one can expect to find exceptional movies for the next millennium.

Troma will return to Cannes. The Troma Team – the young idealists who constantly inspire me to continue my quest for independent cinema – will continue to act as the antidote to the pomposity, the uselessness and the slow creeping death that has come to characterize the Cannes Film Festival and its denizens.

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