An eight-minute interview with a headline-making personality is the successful concept of L’Invité, show broadcast every day from Monday through Friday at 1:45 pm EST on TV5MONDE.
As part of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival from May 14 through 25, special editions of L’Invité will be broadcast from the iconic town. The line-up will include interviews with leading directors, actors, and other stars, as well as a peek behind the scenes of the world’s most famous film festival. We spoke with Patrick Simonin, the host of the show.
France-Amérique: You presented L’Invité in Cannes back in 2000. What are your first memories of the festival?
Patrick Simonin: Every year we spend almost a week in Cannes. The atmosphere has changed a lot since the first shows! Back in the day I interviewed Michèle Morgan and Gérard Oury in their house in Saint-Tropez and Gregory Peck in his hotel room. At the time you could still arrange to meet celebrities in cafés. I was once on a terrace with Philippe Noiret when Bertrand Tavernier walked past us. We stopped filming so they could say hi to each other. I will never forget my interview with Kim Novak, the star of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. I remember the screening of the film — a work that many still consider one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces. I was a few rows behind her and when the lights came on, she stood up as if in a dream and waved to the audience.
L’Invité is nomadic, and you have presented the show at the Francophonie Summit, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Francofolies music festivals in La Rochelle and Montreal. But what makes the Cannes Film Festival so special?
Cannes is the world’s biggest film festival! It is enormous, the crowds are impressive, and the parties are unforgettable. Nothing is too grand or extravagant for this event. There is also a whole mythology surrounding it. The festival is a label that turns everyone’s attention to movies that otherwise would not have garnered so much interest with journalists. There is a certain contradiction between the celebrities, the sun, and the palace hotels, and the movies from all over the planet that can be both challenging and exotic. You constantly shift from one world to another, from sexy ambience to arthouse cinema. I try to reflect this particularity in the show.
© Festival de Cannes/FIF
There are so many celebrities who come to Cannes. Who ends up in front of your microphone?
We have received almost every French celebrity over the years, including Isabelle Huppert, Vanessa Paradis, Sophie Marceau, and Johnny Hallyday. But Cannes also enables us to step out of the Francophone world and meet international names. In 2012, we were the only show to interview Robert De Niro for the release of the remastered version of Once Upon a Time in America. I also met Tim Burton when he was president of the jury, and Malcolm McDowell for the anniversary of A Clockwork Orange. Alongside the world of cinema, I enjoy receiving political figures such as culture ministers from our Francophone partner countries, and other personalities who are in the news. Last year I interviewed French equality secretary Marlène Schiappa when the sexual harassment scandal hit the festival. I also met the president of the Swiss Confederation who came to present the latest technological innovations in filmmaking, and I received the actresses from the anti-racist collective Noire n’est pas mon métier. This year, the question of online streaming platforms, Netflix in particular, will most likely be a key theme.
How do you stand out when the media’s full attention is focused on the same films and artists?
It is difficult to have an exclusive in Cannes, but that means we are free to choose different movies. I am passionate about the full diversity of cinema, including films from Africa and the Maghreb, and Francophone artists. Every year, TV5MONDE also co-produces in-competition feature-length movies, and I focus on the Directors’ Fortnight and the Semaine de la Critique to discover exciting new films. The show is part of Cannes; we really portray the festival with a blend of interviews and reports. The movies and artists are essential, but we also need to enchant our audiences! Last year we filmed during the night-time screening of Grease on the beach, before interviewing John Travolta. People were sitting on sun loungers and dancing. It was a unique moment.
What was your finest moment in Cannes?
I had the honor of interviewing actress Anna Karina on the beach, and she recited her part of the dialogue in Jean-Luc Godard’s movie Pierrot le Fou: “What can I do? I don’t know what to do…” She also spoke about the renowned photo of her kiss with Belmondo, which was the poster for the festival that year, and she even gave me a kiss! What makes Cannes so wonderful is that we have been able to retain a certain romanticism, and we can produce a show by the sea to the sound of the waves.