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Notebook Cannes Notebook #1

The first of an aborted Festival de Cannes project of handing out sheets of paper to attendees and asking for immediate reactions to films.

This year at the Festival de Cannes I wanted to start a project that would appear concurrently with my daily reviewing, something with different content and texture. What I conceptualized was the "Notebook Cannes Notebook"—I would hand out single sheets of notepaper to friends and colleagues on the Croisette and ask them to use one side of it in any way they saw fit as an immediate response to a film. This would be in tune with the festival's proclivity to render all passing dialog a series of good/bad judgments and witty quips, yet at the same time require a transformation of this spur-of-the-moment responses into a physical object created through a considered action (writing, drawing) that might make one think a bit more just by doing it. Also, to create a concrete, material record of this kind of criticism, and then transpose it to a digital-virtual form.

Alas, this year while I handed out nearly a dozen sheets I only received two in response—a sign, perhaps, of the overall weakness of the festival this year but no doubt also due to the vagueness of the assignment, which I initially thought was the fun of the challenge (the freedom of the blank page, its single face the sole restriction). That being said, the two responses I got back made me very happy and I will try to continue this tradition at the next festival I'm attending.

Here is the page given to me by Alexander Horwath, Director of the Austrian Film Museum:


"Through the looking-glass with Holy Motors: a palpable sense of life and air an invention returning to the festival, filling the room, making everything light again. Stepping through a wall, pushing a curtain to the side, entering a cinema (from behind). Not knowing if you are in the presence of a great film - but, finally, being in the presence of something that dares speak the name of the game.


This is a really great idea, Danny. Maybe next time we’re at a festival together, you can slip me a piece of paper!
Thanks, Adam. I need to figure out why it didn’t work out so well but would certainly want your contribution when we overlap!
Maybe it would work better if you didn’t let people leave your sight until they finished writing on the paper. Or maybe that’s what you were doing. Anyway, it’s an interesting concept that I think you should repeat. It’s almost a revolutionary shock to see actual written film criticism! Call it Anti-Twitter. The more rough and stream-of-consciousness it is, the better.
I actually tried that first requirement, Bobby, but it didn’t take; what people were more open to was accepting the paper and walking around with it until they saw something that grabbed them. This also meant the papers were getting a bit used and rugged in the process, which I liked. But then again, those people never turned them in! Chiara: many thanks! I know you are a sucker for that stationary…

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