As I write this, a bunch of no doubt sleep-encrusted, wine-soaked, coffee-seeking, ashtray-reeking journalists are sitting down to watch "City Island" at the ungodly French hour of nine AM. This is our press screening--the screening that will decide, one way or the other, how the film will be reviewed critically in this most critical of cinema-obsessed countries. Am I worried? No. Why, you ask?
Because, thanks to you youtube, I just found the goddamned niftiest bit of period footage of this lovely French beach resort, showing the place in 1936 in beautiful black and white which appears to have been struck from an original nitrate print of the footage (you'll see how sharp the quality is). It's coverage of the first Deauville Grand Prix auto race--was there a second, a third?--and included in its short one minute length is a genuine auto fatality. An Italian, of all things, is the victim of the deadly crash--and I believe it happens just a few feet from the hotel I'm staying in--the Royal--which can be glimpsed briefly at 11:00-13:00 seconds.
So how can I worry what the French will think of my film, sitting here as I am just feet (meters? cubes?) away from the place where one of my paisans--one Giuseppe Farina it sounds like--wiped out, ending his life? As long as I don't get hit by a car crossing the street, I'll survive whatever happens here in Deauville--which by the way is a wildly attractive part of this charming country, much less hypey and overbuilt than the South of France, home of a certain "other" festival...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 12:03 AM