Sweet success: Clint Eastwood poses for photographers with his wife Dina (right), his daughters, Francesca (second left) and Morgan, and the President of the Cannes Festival Film Gilles Jacob.
Eastwood, honoured by Cannes, looks ahead at 78.
Call it lucky if you want, punk: Clint Eastwood has taken home a special career award from the Cannes film fest, and he told AFP in an interview he likes it when his movies say something about the United States.After a ceremony last Wednesday in Paris, where he received the special Palme d’Or, the 78-year-old filmmaker said he was honoured, while also describing his next project in South Africa set to begin filming soon.
He was in Paris for the French release of his latest film, Gran Torino, which he stars in and directs, and appeared in solid shape despite his years, accompanied by his wife and two of his children.In the interview with AFP, he said he was “attracted” to movies that say something about the US, adding that Gran Torino fits that description.
The main character, which Eastwood plays, is a prejudiced Korean War veteran and retired auto worker. It was filmed in the Detroit area, home to the US’s deeply struggling auto industry.
“I don’t look for it, necessarily, but I guess I’m attracted to it,” he said.
Gran Torino ironically comes out at a time when Detroit is in distress and the American automobile industry is having a rough time, and so going there and working is a little bit of a comment on what is going on in the US today.
“But also the story relates to an American family, and there’s a growing distance between generations. When the children are trying to talk their father and father-in-law into going into assisted-care living, and they sell his house, you get a feeling that they’re trying to just get rid of him.
“Maybe in older times that didn’t happen so much, and certainly in the Hmong community next door that didn’t happen so much.”
The movie sees Eastwood’s character befriend a troubled Hmong youth who tried to steal his car, a Ford Gran Torino.
“When he’s over there at their house, he’s seeing a great respect being given to elders,” he said.
Eastwood’s recent film Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, also touched on topical issues, but through a historical lens.
“That is a story about a historical event that happened in Los Angeles, but also there is an irony there because the Los Angeles police department every so often seems to go into a period of corruption,” he said.
“It’s happened even in recent years ... so it was nice to comment about some of the things that happened in recent years, by going back to real events in 1928.”
The Dirty Harry star has never won a prestigious Palme d’Or for best film during the Cannes festival, though last year’s jury headed by Sean Penn gave him a lifetime achievement award.
Awards given outside the annual festival such as the one Eastwood received last Wednesday are rare.
Cannes, the world’s leading film fest set to be held in May, has similarly awarded legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and French film star Jeanne Moreau.
“I will treasure it for as long as I’m around,” said Eastwood.
His role in Gran Torino marks his first return to acting since the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, but Eastwood said he is not eager to cast himself in another movie.
“If a great script comes along, then naturally you never say never,” he said. “But if it doesn’t come along, it won’t break my heart either way because I do enjoy directing films very much.”
The California native, who earned widespread acclaim with his 1992 film Unforgiven but who may be best known for his Dirty Harry roles, is set to begin filming in South Africa.
The film involves former South African president Nelson Mandela’s appearance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, seen as a turning point in South Africa’s post-apartheid history.
Eastwood called it “a story about a certain segment of Nelson Mandela’s life when he became president in the early ’90s and how he manipulated various factions of society together and created reconciliation ...
“He was kind of brilliant in that way ... He got them all interested in the World Cup.” – AFP
By M.J. SMITH