A Cinema Masterclass by Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood © Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP

CLINT EASTWOOD, who was President of the Jury in 1994, is in Cannes from May 19th to 21st. On the 20th he was at the Debussy Theatre to present the restored copy of Unforgiven, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Festival with Warner. On the 21st, he inaugurated the 70th ANNIVERSARY MASTERCLASS with a discussion in the company of American critic Kenneth Turan in the Buñuel screening room. The legendary actor and director freely commented on his films, childhood and beginnings. Several standing ovations electrified the room. A selection of comments:

On his childhood  

As a kid, I already loved westerns. My idols at the time? Gary Cooper, James Stewart, John Wayne… 

I was born during the Depression and my parents were starving, but as kids, we really didn’t notice.  My sister and I were always given enough. 

On politics

Today, we’re killing ourselves with political correctness; we’ve really lost our sense of humor… 

On The Bridges of Madison County

The film was inspired by a book. When I first read it, I thought that the protagonist should have been the woman and not the man. Meryl Streep didn’t like the book, but she changed her mind after reading the screenplay. 

On the number of takes during shooting 

I like to do a first take to see what happens on the faces of my actors. If everything works after the first take, everybody becomes caught up in this positive dynamic, and it really helps with the rest of the shooting. 

On his passion for directing 

Cinema is completely emotional; it’s not intellectual at all. An example: I like playing golf, but I don't want to have to play golf. It’s the same with directing. 

The director's filmography has been a firm fixture at Cannes over the past few decades. His first appearance was in 1985 with Pale Rider, followed by Bird (1988), White Hunter, Black Heart (1990), Absolute Power (1997), Mystic River (2003) and Changeling in 2008, with the latter earning him the Special Jury Prize for the 61st edition of the Festival. The director was President of the Feature Film Jury in 1994, and also attended the Festival in 2008 when Manoel de Oliveira was awarded his Palme d'Or.