Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut call for a halt to the 1968 Cannes Film Festival due to the ongoing nationwide strike in France.
Why did you stop the Cannes Festival?
Because it was the logical thing to do. France was closing down, therefore Cannes had to close down. While I was driving to Cannes on May 17 to take part in a press conference about the Cinémathèque affair, I was listening to the radio and every half-hour came reports of more factories being occupied. I wasn’t sorry to see France paralyzed, the government was in disarray. Next day, when I asked for the Festival to be stopped, I wasn’t thinking particularly of a gesture of solidarity with the workers—I’d have been more likely to feel solidarity with the four students who were sentenced to jail after a hasty session in a Sunday court. I wasn’t really thinking of challenging or reforming the Festival, of doing away with evening dress or making it more cultural. No, I just felt that in its own interest the Festival should stop of its own accord rather than be halted a few days later by the force of events. I didn’t see it as a military coup, I simply wanted an unambiguous situation. In fact, this is how it happened.
During the night I was told of the creation of the Etats Généraux du Cinéma and their decision to stop the Festival, and I talked to a few people about it. We had no idea how difficult it is to stop this kind of big business event. We just adopted the tactics that had worked for the Cinémathèque: producers who had films in competition would withdraw them, jury members would resign. We made a mistake in not giving more information about the situation in France to people who for a week had been reading nothing but the Festival daily. (You feel differently according to whether or not you’ve been listening to the news.) This was especially true of foreign journalists and delegates, who naturally had qualms about joining in an anti-government movement…
Anyway, we had to get the Festival stopped and we did. It could maybe have been managed more elegantly, but in circumstances like this you’re inclined to check your manners with your hat—and someone probably throws away the cloakroom key. I know that a lot of people will hold our attitude at Cannes against us for a long time to come, but I also know that a few days later, when there were no more planes and no more trains, when the telephones weren’t working and we’d run out of petrol and cigarettes, the Festival would have looked utterly ridiculous if it had tried to carry on.
Sight and Sound, Autumn 1968.