Critics may have been mixed after this morning’s press screening, but the World Premiere audience at Wednesday night’s Cannes gala of director Walter Salles’ long-gestating film On The Road was highly enthusiastic giving the film about the Beat Generation a 10 minute standing ovation. Co-producer Rebecca Yeldham said it was sweet justification for the 8 years she has been shepherding the picture with Salles. I caught up with her and the cast at the ultra-crowded after-party next door to the Palais at the oddly-named club, Magic Garden Meets LeBaron. The film based on the famous 1957 classic book by Jack Kerouac (actually written in 1951) has had several people attempt a film version with no luck and it has taken 55 years to get to the screen. Kerouac himself even sent it to Marlon Brando right after publication but never got a response. Francis Ford Coppola eventually secured the rights over 30 years ago but couldn’t come up with a way to make the complex film work. Finally Salles and his The Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter Jose Rivera cracked the code and after some false starts finally got the job done (Roman Coppola is also a producer on the film for American Zoetrope). IFC and Sundance Selects will distribute the film but it won’t be part of their VOD platform, but rather a major theatrical release. IFC’s and Sundance Selects President Jonathan Sehring, also at the party , said he couldn’t be higher on the film and they plan to open it in December and mount a major awards campaign. “We are going for it in a big way,” he said. “And initially I was skeptical about the whole thing. I didn’t know if itcould work. I had never really seen a good Beat film done right before but Walter has done a magnificent job and all the actors are great.
“She’s great,” he said pointing to Kristen Stewart who was standing in a nearby corner of the party talking with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson (RPat is in Cannes for his own premiere on Friday, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis). Sehring’s been busy here. He is also high on the acquistion title,Sightseers, a wickedly dark and clever British comedy I saw today in Directors Fortnight. It’s one of the more entertaining films I have seen here this year and should find an audience. Director Ben Wheatley has a following. Sehring just viewed the film this week and quickly snapped it up for release in 2013. ” We had handled Kill List, a film he wrote, but a lot of people were after this one,” he said. Sehring sees so many films so quickly at film fests he always chews gum thoughout each one so he doesn’t doze off. He said he got the tip from a journalist. I think I will try it. Some of these films are real endurance tests.
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Riley was selected after 2007’s “Control” and Hedlund came on after taking a long bus ride to his audition from his home in a town in Minnesota so rural that the nearest metropolis was Fargo, three hours away.
“He kept a journal about his journey, and he asked to read it after his audition scenes,” Salles remembers. “What he’d written was so much in tune with Neal’s letters we were all sure he was right.” Hedlund, who is outstanding, was so committed to the role he wouldn’t take other work without checking with Salles first about possible schedule conflicts.
In doing research on the earlier attempts to film “On the Road,” some of which date back to well before Coppola acquired the rights, Salles was struck by screenplay versions that had Dean Moriarty punished or even killed by the end.
“That character was very politically incorrect,” Salles explains. “His attempt to live every single possibility, and the evasion of responsibility that came with it, made people uncomfortable.”
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Garrett Hedlund (TRON: LEGACY, COUNTRY STRONG, and the upcoming ON THE ROAD and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS), Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (THE VISITOR), Jessica Brown Findlay (PBS’ “Downton Abbey”), Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (DREAMGIRLS), Oscar nominee Terrence Howard and three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (THE FIGHTER) will star in acclaimed fine artist Andrew Levitas’ comedy/drama LULLABY. It was announced today by Mimi Steinbauer, President and CEO of Radiant Films International, and producers Andrea Stone-Brokaw of Ananta Productions and Cary Brokaw (THE PLAYER, SHORT CUTS, ANGELS IN AMERICA, CLOSER) of Avenue Pictures. Radiant Films will be offering the film to international buyers of the Cannes Film Market.
Levitas will direct the feature film from his own script which is set to start shooting in June 2012 in New York City. The Producers are in discussion with several domestic distributors but the North American rights have not been licensed.
Filled with considerable comedic beats, LULLABY explores the power of life, its transformative moments and reconnections between loved ones. Estranged from his family, Jonathan (Hedlund) receives word that his father, Robert (Jenkins), who has been fighting illness for over a decade has chosen to take himself off life support in less than forty-eight hours. What follows is an unexpected journey of love, laughter, and forgiveness.
“Andrea and Cary have assembled a truly stellar cast for this life affirming tale of family and love. And in Andrew Levitas’ visionary hands LULLABY will unquestionably be an exciting film” said Steinbauer.
“Andrew Levitas has written a remarkable script and created a story that is as funny as it is moving and a part of life that everyone can identify with.” said Stone-Brokaw and Brokaw.
Hedlund made his leading breakout role in Disney’s action blockbuster TRON: LEGACY opposite Jeff Bridges before starring in COUNTRY STRONG opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. He will next star in Walter Salles’ Cannes 2012 Official Selector ON THE ROAD, where he co-starred with Adams alongside Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen and the Coen Brothers’ INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS opposite Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, currently in post-production.
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An impromtu stopover on the Texas- New Mexico border when the Hudson breaks down
Garrett Hedlund places the cigarette pack under his shirt, a tip he got from Caroline Cassady
Thanks to Trois Couleurs magazine for the excerpt from the ”On the Road” special edition from Garrett Hedlund’s interview: “Driving the Film” by Clementine Gallort, Aureliano Tonet and Laura Tuiller. Translated by Anita Conrade.
American actor Garrett Hedlund threw himself body and soul into the role of Dean Moriarty, adopting his feverish ramble and shamanistic speech. As the high priest of parlance, Moriarty, starter and accelerator, drives his discourse with as much exuberance as he drives the Hudson. Meeting Hedlund in Los Angeles, we were able to observe the Kerouackian pep he’d pick up as a teenager has as much power as ever.
All photos © 2012 MK2 Productions, Trois Couleurs All Rights Reserved.
FULL CREDIT GOES TO tELLErized and Mr Hedlund