The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, probably best known for handing out Oscars each year, isn’t the only organization known for a major show business award that threw a party this week at the Cannes Film Festival. Golden Globe givers the Hollywood Foreign Press Association does it every year, and were back here Sunday night for its annual bash at Nikki Beach off the Croisette.
In addition to drawing names like Helen Mirren, Robert Pattinson, Quentin Tarantino, Andie Macdowell, Cannes jury president Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and many more, the HFPA brought along a nice little check for half a million dollars for the efforts of Help Refugees. Each year the HFPA uses the worldwide spotlight of Cannes to shine a light on a group that is out doing good in the world and needs the attention. Joined by the socially conscious Participant Media (which again threw a pre-party dinner at Le Petit Paris before the HFPA party got underway down the boardwalk), the Help Refugees organization’s Josie Naughton told the crowd this kind of attention is so important for the group she co-founded and for which she serves as CEO.
Mirren was introduced by HFPA president Meher Tatna to present the check and, as only this Dame can do, quickly quieted down the large crowd of revelers in order to spread the message of the evening. “I am thrilled to be able to present this check on behalf of the HFPA to Help Refugees, an amazing organization whose mission of providing humanitarian aid with minimal overhead and maximum impact has effected the lives of so many,” she said. “This is a group of people, who, time and again, have proven to be unafraid of rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty. Since 2015, they have responded to urgent needs, acted where large NGO’s can’t or won’t go, supporting more than 80 different projects, helping nearly 1 million people escape war, violence and persecution with the low overhead of 7% (where others can reach 40%). Tonight we honor Help Refugees.”
Robert Pattinson, who earlier in the day won critical raves for the potential future Batman’s best-yet performance in the Directors’ Fortnight debut of his new film The Lighthouse, opened the proceedings by noting the HFPA’s wide-ranging philanthropic activities, giving away over $5 million every year in support of arts, education, film preservation, protecting journalistic organizations, and deserving groups in need. A video demonstrating all that, as well as one showing the work of Help Refugees, was also shown.
At the Le Petit Paris dinner, Participant’s CEO David Linde said his company (which won several Oscars this year for Best Picture winner Green Book as well as Roma) has two mantras: partnerships with those who can make a difference, and bringing films that can inspire and “empower people who want to make change.” He introduced Naughton, who in turn brought up two refugees who made moving speeches about how this group gave them a new chance at life where none existed in their home countries.
Among those who attended the HFPA party were Tarantino, who was in high spirits and has been in town hitting some movies like China’s The Wild Goose Lake which he told me he quite liked, and parties (including Vanity Fair‘s the night before). I got to catch up with him at a roped-off area where he, his wife Daniella, along with others including his Once Upon a Time In Hollywood producer Shannon McIntosh were having fun at the party which got going in earnest just as a Cannes downpour and weekend of rain finally began letting up.
McIntosh had to run over to a Women In Motion event, but I had a great time talking movies with Tarantino, who in addition to making films also shows them in beautiful 35mm film prints at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood, which he refurbished and has turned into the premier repertory theatre in town. Every time I see him I start comparing notes on what I have seen there lately. This time we talked about Carl Foreman’s 1963 WWII classic (but not widely seen) The Victors, which I caught over Easter weekend when the NewBev showed it in a rare four-track mag print.
“You saw The Victors there?,” Tarantino exclaimed before going on to mention, with his vast encyclopedic knowledge of all things movies, that Steve McQueen was actually possibly going to play the role that eventually went to George Peppard. Tarantino said McQueen seriously considered it but in the end settled on doing another little movie called The Great Escape instead. That movie made him a superstar and the rest is history.
Looking forward to seeing Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood on Tuesday night, exactly 25 years to the day when his Palme d’Or-winning Pulp Fiction debuted here in 1994. It is by far the hottest ticket of this festival.
I also got a chance to talk briefly to Gonzalez Inarritu, who came to the HFPA’s party in his tux after just seeing the Terrence Malick competition entry A Hidden Life. He’s having a great time heading up the jury, the first Latin American ever to do it, and I got to compliment him on what he said on opening night about the job that the only real judge of a movie can be “time.” Among distribution execs in the crowd were Fox Searchlight’s Nancy Utley, A24’s David Fenkel and Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski among others including the HFPA’s Lorenzo Soria.
The cast of the Un Certain Regard entry Port Authority really got things popping with a line dance that took the center of attention away from everything at one point.