This year's Venice Film Festival kicked off with The Clink of Ice. Bertrand Blier's film opened Venice Days, with the director and his lead actress Anne Alvaro present on the Lido. Even if the film was somewhat overshadowed by the screening of Black Swan and Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel's appearance on the red carpet, festival goers offered its crew a very warm welcome.
The next day saw a change of tone with the screening of Miral, the latest offering from Julian Schnabel, a film which struggled to win over the international press, who instead preferred Catherine Breillat's fable La Belle Endormie. Ms. Breillat took part in a host of interviews over two days, taking great pleasure in answering questions from journalists who filed in and out of the Albergo Quattro Fontane, where Unifrance has set up its Venetian offices.
On Friday, the director Alix Delaporte presented her debut film Anglèle et Tony at International Critics' Week. Ms. Delaporte and her cast members Clotilde Hesme, Grégory Gadebois (who revealed, with emotion, to an Australian journalist that this was his very first television interview), and Evelyne Didi, shyly entered the Sala Darsena (1,600 seats) for the screening of their film. 85 minutes later, the 1,600 spectators gave them a standing ovation lasting ten minutes. The film was a hit, and its international sales agent Pyramide is delighting in the flurry of deals already signed, such as with Nanni Moretti's company Sacher Distribuzione for distribution in Italy. The international media admit that this was the first surprise success of the 2010 Festival. Second up on the day's French film menu was Happy Few, presented in the Official Competition. Its director Antony Cordier (who attracted attention in 2005 with Cold Showers), lit up the red carpet in the company of Elodie Bouchez, Marina Foïs, Roschdy Zem, and Nicolas Duvauchelle. These artists later met with international media representatives on Level 3 of the Excelsior Hotel, the festival’s HQ, although rumor has it that the hotel may close next year...
In the evening, the Lido took on a tricolor theme, with Unifrance celebrating French cinema. A large band of artists - Karin Viard (Potiche), Elodie Bouchez, Marina Foïs, Roschdy Zem, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Antony Cordier, Adrien Jolivet and Marion Hänsel (Noir Océan), Catherine Breillat, Alix Delaporte, Clotilde Hesme and the crew from the Franco-Israeli film Hitparzut, François Ozon, Fabrice Luchini, and Judith Godrèche stopped by the Albergo Quattro Fontane to enjoy a drink before setting off to join Catherine Deneuve back in Venice. The festival’s artistic director Marco Müller was there to welcome all guests. Arnaud Desplechin was unable to attend the event and mingle with crews from films competing in the Official Competition, due to his obligation to maintain impartiality as a jury member. A great fan of Catherine Breillat, Antony Cordier made a special farewell bid to the director before she left the dinner. Clotilde Hesme and Catherine Breillat engaged in deep discussion, which no doubt took them back to the French Film Festival organized by Unifrance in Brazil in 2008 at which they both participated. The weather is fine in Venice and this Friday evening, and everyone on the Lido has one word on their lips: Potiche.
Saturday, 9 a.m. The press screening theater is packed to the doors and laughter echoes from the first minutes of the film. Media representatives are held spellbound by Catherine Deneuve in her red sweat suit. Loud applause follows. François Ozon, who yesterday was a little anxious about the screening, can rest assured. Audiences also showed their delight at the film’s official screening. The Italian distributor Bim is over the moon (and also relieved). Just prior to the screening, audiences cheered "Queen Catherine." The crew celebrated the film’s success through the night, and the following day faced questions from the press with tired eyes.
That’s curtains for this first week of the festival, folks!