Become part of the history of the seventh art with A man and a woman, the landmark hotel on the coast is the social heart of the protest which ends on Sunday. Behind the scenes of a very active hive.
At the Deauville American Film Festival, all roads lead to Nomandy. Opening and closing dinner, interviews, jury lair, photo shoots… Became part of the history of the French seventh art by serving as the setting for the emblematic A man and a woman by Claude Lellouche, the emblematic hotel on the Normandy coast cultivates its roots in cinema.
When Lionel Chouchan and André Halimi created the festival in 1975, it was with the support of the municipality and the Barrière hotel group, owner of the Normandy and the Royal de Deauville. The group is well-versed in cinematographic feasts being on the front line in Cannes, such as at Fouquet’s which hosts the socialites of the Césars.
The original idea: to offer the Calvados seaside resort of 3,500 inhabitants a cultural event that will allow it to extend the tourist season once the start of the school year has arrived. Mission accomplished: four decades later, the sixty films screened attract more than 60,000 spectators. Enough to transform the nerve centers of the Festival – the CID convention center, the Morny and Casino cinemas and the hotels into hives. “Each year, more than 150 rooms and 2,000 overnight stays are made available to the Festival by the Normandy and the Royal”, specifies Frédéric Bessonneaud, the director of the Normandy. Enough to put more than 200 employees on deck and open the doors of the premises to a slightly different clientele. Even to retain some of them.
From the ceremonial staircase to the corridors covered with photos of Hollywood and French stars who descended on the venues -famous for their Toile de Jouy wallpapers-, the Normandy carries the history of the festival within its walls. For holidaymakers ping through this week, it was not difficult to come across Guillaume Canet, Mélanie Thierry and their jurors several times a day in private meeting at the reception or in the courtyard, immediately debriefing the films seen at the CID or waiting to be taken to lunch between sessions.
A high point for the Anglo-Norman style establishment, founded in 1912, the organization of the opening dinner. It takes place in the ambadors’ lounge at the adjoining casino: 500 seats and 1000 macaroons to make. This mobilizes a brigade of about thirty people. Chefs and waiters must hold a marathon. Everything must be placed on the table and then cleared within two hours. No choice when the festivities start around 11 p.m.
This edition, which was marked by the strike of screenwriters and actors, was no exception to the rule. Hollywood stars may have been absent from the red carpet, the tribute to Jude Law limited to a clip from his cult films, last Friday’s meal was as late as usual.
Perhaps to give him time to digest the powerful and trying opening film The Queen’s Game, in which the British comedian embodies a paranoid Henry VIII, violent, gnawed by the gangrene which torments his last wife Catherine Parr. Brutalized, terrorized, the pro-Protestant aristocrat, camped by Alicia Vikander, is promised the unenviable fate of her predecessors Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard: imprisonment and beheading. Not sure that Kyle Eastwood’s double b interlude prepared the festival-goers for the show that was to follow.
Popcorn and tequila
To bring minds and appetites back to earth, chef Jean-Luc Mothu had innovated and designed a “locavore” meal with products from the western region. The head table where Guillaume Canet’s jury sat and the new generation of the Barrière group, Joy and Alexandre, were the first to discover the Breton lobster starter with a mixed vegetable from La Manche. As a dish of honor at the bar, served with vegetables from a farm near Caen.
The desert, on the other hand, broke with tradition. Exit the small chocolate éclairs decorated with the American flag. Welcome to a popcorn meal. Either a sweet corn polenta biscuit covered with a blueberry jelly topped with popcorn made in The Hague. All contained in a small white chocolate pot decorated with the colors of the star-spangled banner. Aesthetically daring, the recipe left a more mixed taste in the mouths of guests delighted to pounce on coffee macaroons.
This is another novelty that has won unanimity. To mark this 49e edition, the Normandy has added an ephemeral newcomer to its tail menu: the Tribeca (like the district of New York which hosts the festival of the same name). Designed by the Fouquet’s New York mixologist, the tangy beverage is a reinterpretation of the Margarita: tequila (flagship American product if any), Cointreau, cucumber juice, lemon, dried pepper and shiso syrup. Chef bartender Frédéric Desmars is happy to decipher the recipe, and distills irresistible anecdotes about his creations that give pride of place to the 7th art and to the taste buds.
For festival-goers who stay until the end, this Saturday’s closing dinner, which will follow the award ceremony and the screening of the dance drama Joika with Isabelle Huppert, should also reserve some surprising flavors in a menu that always aims to give pride of place to Norman products from the sea and land side. The most adventurous night owls will then end the party at the Villa Schweppes.