Cannes Film Fest: History and Memory

I attended the Cannes Film Festival for the second time in 1985, for its 38th edition, held from May 8 to May 20.

In 1985, the prestigious Palme d’Or went, surprisingly, to When Father Was Away on Business by Emir Kusturica, who would become one of the few directors to have won two Palme d’Or prizes; the second was in 1995.

The festival opened and closed with two good movies: Witness, directed by Peter Weir, was the opening night, The Emerald Forest, directed by John Boorman, was the closer.  While Witness was a commercial success, Emerlad was unfortunately a flop….

One of the highlights of the festival was a tribute to the American iconoc actor and star, screening a restored version of his 1954 film The Glenn Miller Story, directed by Anthony Mann and co-staring June Allyson.

In the packed press conference, Stewart defended Hitchcock, who directed him in such masterpieces as Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958).  Stewart refused to talk about Hitchcock’s personal life, but denied any reports of abuse on the set, or flirting with his leading ladies, as was documented in some biographies.

Milos Forman, who won his second Directing Oscar for “Amadeus” a few months before the festival, served as president of the jury.

It was an easier, friendlier festival for me, compared to 1984, which was the equivalent of military basic training.

I benefited immensely from the fact that the French critic Michel Perez was on the grand jury, who offered tickets to the hottest parties on the Croisette.

Peronal highlight: I got to meet Catherine Denueve (more beautiful in person than on screen!) and Jeanne Moreau in person at a tribute held for French director Francois Truffaut, who died the year before of brain cancer, at the young age of 52.

Films in competition


Un Certain Regard

A Private Function by Malcolm Mowbray

A.K. by Chris Marker

Ad Sof Halaylah by Eitan Green

Das Mal des Todes by Peter Handke

Dediščina by Matjaž Klopčič

Une femme en Afrique by Raymond Depardon

Himatsuri by Mitsuo Yanagimachi

Il diavolo sulle colline by Vittorio Cottafavi

Latino by Haskell Wexler

Le thé au harem d’Archimède by Mehdi Charef

Milyy, dorogoy, lyubimyy, edinstvennyy…by Dinara Asanova

Monsieur de Pourceaugnac by Michel Mitrani

Le mystère Alexina by René Féret

Oriana by Fina Torres

Padre nuestro by Francisco Regueiro

Tokyo-Ga by Wim Wenders


Films out of competition

Die Nacht by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg

Jumping by Osamu Tezuka

Le soulier de Satin by Manoel de Oliveira

Night Magic by Lewis Furey

Steaming by Joseph Losey

The Emerald Forest by John Boorman

The Glenn Miller Story by Anthony Mann

The Purple Rose of Cairo by Woody Allen

Witness by Peter Weir


Short film competition

L’anniversaire de Georges by Patrick Traon

Jenitba by Slav Bakalov and Rumen Petkov

Stop by Krzysztof Kiwerski

Tusagiby Bondo Shoshitaishvili



Miloš Forman (USA) (President)

Claude Imber  (France) (Journalist)

Edwin Zbonek (Austria)

Francis Veber (France)

Jorge Amado (Brazil)

Mauro Bolognini (Italy)

Michel Perez (France)

Mo Rothmann (USA)

Néstor Almendros (Argentina)

Sarah Miles (UK)




Palme d’Or: When Father Was Away on Business by Emir Kusturica

Grand Prix: Birdy

Jury Prize: Colonel Redl

Best Actor: William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman

Best Actress: Tie

Norma Aleandro for The Official Story and Cher for Mask

Best Director: André Téchiné for Rendez-vous

Short Film Palme d’Or: Jenitba by Slav Bakalov and Rumen Petkov

Best Artistic Contribution: John Bailey (cinematographer), Eiko Ishioka (production designer/costume designer) and Philip Glass (composer) for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Technical Grand Prize: Insignificance by Nicolas Roeg


Caméra d’Or: Oriana by Fina Torres

Perspectives du Cinéma Award: Visage de chien by Jacek Gasiorowski



Otac na sluzbenom putu by Emir Kusturica

The Purple Rose of Cairo by Woody Allen

Visages de femmesby Desiré Ecaré

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury: La historia oficial

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention: Le temps d’un instant

FIFA Award: Extended Play by David Casci

Award of the Youth:

Foreign Film: Dance with a Stranger by Mike Newell

French Film: Le thé au harem d’Archimède by Mehdi Charef

English title, Original title, Director(s), Country

Adieu Bonaparte, Youssef Chahine, Egypt
Birdy, Alan Parker, US
Ray Lawrence
Chicken with Vinegar
Poulet au vinaigre
Claude Chabrol
The Coca-Cola Kid
Dušan Makavejev
Colonel Redl
Oberst Redl
István Szabó
Francis Reusser
Jean-Luc Godard
Farewell to the Ark
Shūji Terayama
Nicolas Roeg
Joshua Then and Now
Ted Kotcheff
Kiss of the Spider Woman
O Beijo da Mulher Aranha
Héctor Babenco
The Official Story
La historia oficial
Luis Puenzo
Madman at War
Scemo di guerra
Dino Risi
Peter Bogdanovich
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Paul Schrader
Pale Rider
Clint Eastwood
André Téchiné
The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal
Le due vite di Mattia Pascal
Mario Monicelli
When Father Was Away on Business (Отац на службеном путу), Emir Kusturica, Yugoslavia