What most folks may not know is that the Cannes Film Festival, in addition to being one of the most prestigious festivals in the world, also boasts a massive movie market. Taking up an entire floor in the Palais, as well as numerous pavilions outside, producers, reps, film commissions and much more from around the world descend upon Cannes to make deals, sign checks and do some major business. Wonder why it seems there is a never-ending slew of new projects announced right around the festival? This is why. And so last year's Cannes Film Festival served as the perfect place for Baldwin and Toback to pitch "Last Tango In Tikrit," their erotic, sexually charged drama, for which they are looking to find $20-25 million to make. Neve Campbell (who worked with Toback in "When I Will Be Loved") is lined up to co-star with Baldwin, and the director and actor take a bunch of meetings which ultimately serve as the foundation of the documentary.
Whether or not 'Tikrit' is real as a project (it probably isn't) is beside the point, as Toback and Baldwin are more interested in exploring the decision-making process when it comes to funding movies. "I don't believe in the Cannes Film Festival," producer Avi Lerner ("Olympus Has Fallen," "The Iceman," "The Expendables" and many, many more) says. Admitting he's strictly driven by the how much profit a movie can make, his blunt statement is more or less true for many of the industry people Baldwin and Toback meet. Universal's Ron Meyer openly admits that in Hollywood nobody gets rewarded for making a good film that earns no money...but if you make a bad film, and it makes millions, you'll come out smelling like a rose.
Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling shares a great anecdote about the stamina needed to make it Hollywood, sharing a typical story of a struggling actor making it to their first audition, and how they'll continually pick themselves up after getting knocked down. And Berenice Bejo (a previous Cannes darling for "The Artist," and this year's Cannes darling for "The Past") is perhaps the most level-headed of any of the talent involved, fully self-aware that the buzz of the moment never lasts, and that her future success and access to top shelf scripts is far from guaranteed.
"Seduced And Abandoned" (a description that Baldwin uses in his comparison of the movies to an ex-girlfriend you keep going back to) doesn't unveil any grand revelations about the state of finding money to make movies. Yes, there are less dollars going around, and it's becoming more difficult to make challenging, interesting projects -- and so, what do filmmakers do? That's what "Seduced And Abandoned" fails to address, with the movie more content to revel in the surreal, abstract and sometimes harsh truths about finding money, rather than endeavoring to find new avenues or -- god forbid -- find a way (like many directors do) to work on a smaller budget. The movie says nothing new in that regard.
And there is something slightly uncomfortable about successful people, with solid careers in the industry, being concerned at just how many millions they can get to make a movie. Most young directors or actors would kill to bend the ear of some of the people Baldwin and Toback get access to in the movie, and this is an issue that is arguably more important to up and coming moviemakers. That quibble aside, the insider look at the industry is appealing, and "Seduced And Abandoned" is enjoyable but lightweight, and if anything, reaffirms that art doesn't come easy. [B]