Page Two

Page Two
Late in the afternoon, laterthan we had planned, we set out from the villa in Seillans, a small French town about 40 minutes from Cannes. The drive through rural France to the highway was pleasant, and the highway fast. Things changed, though, at the Cannes turn-off; heading down to the beach where the film festival was happening became a long and brutal trip. The barely moving, stop-and-go traffic was accented by motorbikes daredevilishly twisting through, coming up, behind, and around the car.

My family was in France. Our friends Maggie Renzi and John Sayles' new movie, Limbo, was playing at the Cannes Film Festival, and they had borrowed these two villas from the film's costume designer. Different segments of the extended family had gathered, Return of the Secaucus Seven-like. By the time we got there, many had departed, and the party was down to one house.

It was idyllic. We gathered endless cherries from the tree by the pool and walked into town to get bread, cheese, and the International Herald Tribune. One morning, three of us drank six coffees because someone's French had translated as "hurry up" rather than "to go." For breakfast, I ate bread, tomatoes, and cherries.

We got there on Thursday. On Saturday, we were stuck in traffic, heading toward the screening. Anne S. Lewis, my wife, changed into her gown and joined the company heading over to the Palais for the event. John, Maggie, and Haskell Wexler and Rita Taggart, his wife and Limbo actress, were driven to the Hall. Wexler is the legendary cinematographer, director, and documentary filmmaker responsible for shooting American Graffiti, In the Heat of the Night, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Bound for Glory, and shooting and directing the 1969 New American Cinema classic Medium Cool. Limbo is the third Sayles film Wexler has shot (he also worked on Matewan, for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and The Secret of Roan Inish).

My son and I headed off, walking the streets, checking out the action, admiring The Mummy promotional stuff in front of the Carlton. We went back to the Martinez, the hotel room, to watch TV. On the TV was footage of John, Maggie, Haskell, and Rita at a press conference earlier that day.

At the prescribed time, we went over to the Palais. We stood in the crowd, looking up at the steps, bathed in TV lights with gendarmes everywhere. John and Maggie came out. Behind them was a group of 30 people -- including Annie, looking stunningly beautiful -- as the gendarmes linked arms and their group headed down the stairs. Dozens of photographers and a ton of TV cameras recorded the proceedings as this party descended the steps.

Did I mention I was in a tux? Borrowed from my father-in-law. I had a powder blue shirt, appropriate to social engagements in suburban St. Louis but a bit of a standout among the uniformly white shirts at Cannes.

I passed the boy off to his mother; they went off, and I got on the bus. We were off to the post-screening party at a villa in the hills outside Cannes. The party was what one would expect of a party at a villa. In attendance were Sony head John Calley, New York Times film critic Janet Maslin, Alan Rickman, Julianne Moore, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

In this issue, Nancy Schafer tells the story of the making of Limbo, and Marge Baumgarten reviews it.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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