EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a fun project steeped in Cannes and cinema lore. Documentarian Mark Cousins, whose latest movie The Eyes Of Orson Welles played at Cannes last year, is making a film about the life and work of Oscar-winning producer and Croisette regular Jeremy Thomas who will be at the festival this year with Takashi Miike’s First Love.
The Last Emperor producer Thomas makes a land and sea pilgrimage to the Cannes Film Festival every year, traveling from London in an old sports car often with one or two close friends in tow. This year Cousins is along for the ride and will be filming as they go.
Their off-beat grand tour will take in landmarks and people connected to the producer’s life and films. From the locations in Paris used in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, to Lyon, the birthplace of cinema, and on to the Riviera festival. Here’s a first look at the two filmmakers en route yesterday afternoon in Paris.
Thomas has undertaken the 1000km trek every year for the last 40 years. It was a journey he first made with his film director father, Ralph Thomas. He has taken up the same Carlton suite in Cannes for decades.
Recorded Picture Company and HanWay Film founder Thomas is well known for his collaborations with auteur directors. Credits include Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, Crash, Tideland, Sexy Beast, The Dreamers, and Matteo Garrone’s recent Cannes drama Dogman. Upcoming he has Garrone’s Pinocchio with Roberto Benigni.
Cousins said of the project, “In my youth I noticed that if a film said ‘produced by Jeremy Thomas’, it was going to be scary, sexual, a brain fuck or a stylistic whirlwind. His movies are the opposite of genteel and the opposite of stiff upper lip Englishness. The films are tempestuous and international, violent and unraveling, a bomb under Brexit. I’ll try to make an innovative film about this man’s great work.”
Thomas added, “Who cannot love Mark Cousins’ films and the creative world around him, and who would not be excited at the prospect of a great road trip, which I shall do identically as I’ve done so many times and let the journey reveal itself, just with the idea of getting there in time for lunch on the opening day. Hope we don’t get a puncture.”
The film’s producer David P. Kelly has wanted to make a film about Thomas for some time, and initially made contact with Cousins at last year’s Venice Film Festival. Kelly said, “I am extremely delighted that Mark is directing the film and is bringing his own personal and artistic vision to make a unique film about Jeremy Thomas.”
He continued, “Thomas has had a truly audacious career, more than any other living film producer. In terms of quantity (sixty producing or executive producing credits), and quality (collaborations with Bertolucci, Cronenberg, Ôshima, Roeg and many other distinguished directors). Of course, there have been some rocky encounters along that road. He shows no signs of becoming more conservative as he approaches the fiftieth year of his filmmaking career. Thomas’s enquiring self-immersion in the art, business and culture of filmmaking is a unique testament to a life lived from its very outset in cinema. Now as his company enters the new digital evolution of the film business, he is evolving once again.”