UPDATED with festival statement, more detail: Following yesterday’s court decision to allow the closing-night screening of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Cannes Film Festival organizers today released an official statement on the matter — one that calls out Paulo Branco who had been seeking an injunction.
Gilliam’s labor of love has been the subject of a rights tussle, and Cannes termed moves by Branco a “campaign of attempted intimidation.” It added, “contrary to what the Brancos have continued to claim (among other slanderous attacks and lies), the Festival de Cannes has never placed itself above the law nor has it attempted to force through a decision.” (Read the full statement below.)
The festival “is pleased to see that justice will allow the presentation of this work, whose director surely deserves to see it finally presented to the public.”
Separately today, French film body the CNC confirmed it has granted the official certificate required for commercial theatrical exhibition of the movie. In a statement, the CNC said, “The decision of the judge of the application for interim relief yesterday confirmed that it would be disproportionate to prevent the dissemination of the work because of this conflict, which will be decided definitively by the court,” on June 15.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY 7:39 AM PT: There will be relief on the Croisette today. A Paris court has determined Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote can screen at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19. The passion project for the Monty Python trouper has been decades in the making and recently hit a roadblock on the way to the finish line as Paulo Branco and his Alfama Films sought an injunction to stop the picture’s closing-night gala.
Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux announced the news from the stage of the Debussy in the Palais. “We have won,” he said. Distributor Ocean Films tweeted: “The Cannes Film Festival breaks the spell. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote enters the history of cinema. In all rooms on May 19, 2018.”
The tussle has been over rights to the project. Gilliam first began tilting at windmills in 1989 and started filming in 2000. After a series of ill-fated events, the movie was finally completed last year. The legal wrangle began in 2016 when Branco and Gilliam entered into a contract. But the budget did not materialize and Gilliam found new backers who got the project on track.
In the intervening time, both sides have lodged complaints. Last May, a French court ruled in favor of Branco but said he could not stop the film from shooting. Then last month, an appeals court heard from the parties with the final decision to be delivered June 15.
While there is still a question mark over the ultimate release of the film, the court decision today at least gets Gilliam up the red carpet. Films that screen in Cannes do not require a certificate from local film body the CNC as they are not for commercial purposes, and that was part of the reasoning behind the court’s decision.
Here’s the full Thursday festival statement:
Things are looking up for Terry Gilliam’s film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Yesterday, on Wednesday 9 May 2018, the French court dismissed the request by Paulo Branco and his production company Alfama Films Production to ban the film from being screened during the Closing night of the Festival de Cannes, on Saturday 19 May.
As such, Paulo Branco and his production company Alfama Films Production have, naturally, seen their claim for compensation from the Festival de Cannes thrown out, having openly denigrated the event in the press and on social media, asserting that its organisers had no right to select The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to be presented in Cannes.
The campaign of attempted intimidation orchestrated by Paulo Branco and his lawyer son have therefore proved fruitless. The urgent applications judge has, through this decision, confirmed that contrary to what the Brancos have continued to claim (among other slanderous attacks and lies), the Festival de Cannes has never placed itself above the law nor has it attempted to force through a decision.
The Festival de Cannes, which throughout the case has repeatedly expressed its loyalty and support for the creators, is pleased to see that justice will allow the presentation of this work, whose director surely deserves to see it finally presented to the public.
We are very pleased that this unique – and in some ways agonising – work in the career of the great director Terry Gilliam will be unveiled for the first time to journalists, festival-goers and professionals from around the world, gathered together in the Grand Amphithéâtre Lumière.
Since Tuesday, cinema has regained its rights. The Festival is a unique forum for freedom of expression. It will remain so.