Nationwide student protests and strikes helped shut down the 1968 Cannes Film Festival after directors withdrew their films in solidarity.
The last time the Cannes Film Festival got called off, it wasn't a virus that did it. It was a revolution.
Fears over the spread of the coronavirus, and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19, led organizers on Thursday to postpone this year's Cannes International Film Festival, the first time in its 73-year-history that the world's most prestigious film fest will not take place as planned. Organizers, who had originally scheduled the 2020 festival for May 12-23 are now hoping to hold the event in late June.
But this is not the first time Cannes got canned. 52 years ago, in 1968, the festival was called off half-way through.
The 1968 festival opened as planned on May 10 with a restored version of Gone With the Wind. American actress and by then Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, hosted the opening ceremony.
But outside of the Cannes glamor bubble, Paris, and most of France, was burning. Student protests and nationwide labor strikes saw some 3 million French workers take to the streets, effectively shutting down the country. On May 13, the French Critics Association issued a statement calling on the festival to be suspended and for those in Cannes to support the students in their “protest against the violent police repression which is an assault on the nation's cultural liberty, the secular traditions of its universities and its democratic principles.”
Initially, Cannes refused. But the new generation of French directors, the founders of the Nouvelle Vague movement that was transforming international film, took a stand. Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Lelouch and Louis Malle, the latter a member of the 1968 Cannes competition jury, demanded that the festival stop. At a press conference in Cannes May 18, Truffaut took to the stage in the Salle Jean Cocteau, flanked by Godard, Lelouch, Malle and Milos Forman, to demand Cannes shut down. Forman withdrew his film, The Fireman's Ball, from competition.
Roman Polanski, then 34 and also on the competition jury that year, was more skeptical. Leaning over to Godard during the press conference, he muttered: "Everything you say reminds me hugely of the time I was in Poland under Stalinism." Later, Polanski would note that he felt “people like Truffaut, Lelouch and Godard are like little kids playing at being revolutionaries" but never lived in "a country where these things happened seriously.”
It would take another day and a half and a few farcical scenes — including, during the screening of Spanish competition film Peppermint Frappe, where the actress Geraldine Chaplin and director Carlos Saura jumped on stage and tried to hold the curtains shut to prevent the audience from watching — before Cannes finally pulled the plug....
Stephen Williams, whose directing credits include episodes of Watchmen, The Walking Dead, Lost, and more, is set to helm Universal’s new monster movie Don’t Go in the Water. There are zero plot details at the moment, but it’s safe to assume from the monster movie distinction and the title that this is going to be some sort of aquatic horror movie – and we could always use more of those.
Variety has the scoop on Don’t Go in the Water, described simply as a “suspenseful monster movie” from director Stephen Williams. Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy is producing, along with Dan Levine for 21 Laps Entertainment, while Adam Kolbrenner will produce for Lit Entertainment Group. Adam Rodin is executive producing.
Williams directed two Watchmen episodes – “She Was Killed by Space Junk”, which featured the now-infamous giant Dr. Manhattan dildo, and “This Extraordinary Being”, one of the most memorable episodes of the series, in which Regina King’s Angela relives her grandfather’s memories via a drug trip. That episode was highly renowned for its unique visual style, so it’s great to see Williams branch out into a big movie. Save for 1995’s Soul Survivor, all his other credits are in TV.
I wish I could tell you more about the Don’t Go in the Water plot, but there simply isn’t anything to tell. However, the title certainly suggests this is some sort of aquatic horror film, and that’s a sub-genre I always enjoy. Earlier this year we saw the release of Underwater, a surprisingly fun undersea monster movie starring Kristen Stewart.
Other entries include DeepStar Six, Leviathan, Deep Rising, and more. Hell, you can even include every shark movie under that banner as well – all the Jaws flicks, The Shallows, Deep Blue Sea, and so on. The only real prerequisite is that the plot involves unlucky characters either on a boat or in some sort of underwater location being plagued by danger. It doesn’t even have to be monster-based danger. There’s Dead Calm, where the danger is Billy Zane. Hell, go ahead and include Titanic in there, I don’t care. There are no more rules anymore, folks. Anything goes these days.