On Wednesday 9th May, I received a message from fellow Filmotomy writer Rob Motto, saying ”Have you heard about this?” There was a link to a news article. I clicked on it and saw the headline: Terry Gilliam has had stroke. A feeling of sorrow washed over me, I am a huge fan of Gilliam’s work, and admire him a lot for his dedication to filmmaking as an art form. Then I saw something else which upset me even further, the possibility that his latest film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote might not be shown at the closing gala of the Cannes Film Festival scheduled for the 19th May.
Luckily, Gilliam (now on the road to recovery) was discharged the day before a French court ruled that the world premiere of his new film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, could go ahead as the closing gala of the Cannes film festival on 19 May. The film, has been in the works since 1989 and has been labelled as one of the unluckiest film’s in the cinematic history because of the continuous problems that Gilliam has faced trying to bring it to the big screen.
The film’s producer Paulo Branco was the individual who launched a legal challenge on 25 April to stop the screening and its French cinema release, claiming that his company Alfama Films owns the rights. On 8 May, Amazon Studios pulled out of US distribution, despite contributing significant funding, another series blow to Gilliam. However, the court ruled in Gilliam’s favour, dismissing Branco’s attempt to gain an injunction to stop the screening at Cannes and other French cinemas.
The Cannes Film festival’s official site stated the following:
The urgent applications judge has, through this decision, confirmed that contrary to what the Brancos have continued to claim (among other slanderous attacks and lies), the Festival de Cannes has never placed itself above the law nor has it attempted to force through a decision.
The Festival de Cannes, which throughout the case has repeatedly expressed its loyalty and support for the creators, is pleased to see that justice will allow the presentation of this work, whose director surely deserves to see it finally presented to the public.
This is great news and an excellent decision by the Festival, I feel that after all the hard work that Gilliam, the film’s crew and cast have put into the film, they deserve to have the film shown on the big screen at the world’s most prestigious and well-known film festival. Gilliam is slowly on the mend has tweeted on Wednesday that he was feeling “restored” and sporting a T-shirt that read “I’m not dead yet.” Which shows Gilliam is still full of high spirits and has kept his sense of humour, which in doubt has kept him going through these rough last couple of weeks.
Hopefully the film will find a new distributer in the US and will have a successful premier. I wish Mr Gilliam a speedy recovery and I am sure he will be back up on his horse in no time! I would also like to thank the Festival for sticking to their guns, and for allowing the film’s screening to go ahead. As stated on their website “The Festival is a unique forum for freedom of expression. It will remain so.” There is no stopping Don Quixote!