Cannes Diary: A French media amuse-bouche

Sampling post-election political gossip in the lead up to Cannes

May 11, 2012

Milos Stehlik

I arrived in post-Sarko France this past weekend, along with the rest of the global film world. I’m on my way to the Cannes Film Festival, which begins Wednesday.

Right now it seems that Europe and France are united once again, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. The center of attention — Dominique Strauss-Kahn or DSK — is all over the news, again. The man who was once thought of as the prospective new French president now faces law suits on two continents. I caught part of a long documentary about DSK on French TV last night (I fell asleep) that was intermittingly interesting, particularly for the extended shots demonstrating his vanity and arrogance.

Meanwhile, the news is filled with jockeying between the French left and Marine LePen, the far-right National Front candidate who got 17.9 percent of the vote in the recent presidential election. Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leftist leader who placed fourth, is now running against LePen for a parliamentary seat in Pas-de-Calais. Melenchon is quoted as saying he needs to “climb the barricades" against the National Front.

The news here is also dominated by a story that would seem like a soap opera to most Americans: Valerie Trierweiler's assumption of "First Lady in a free union." Trierweiler’s longtime companion, the socialist politician Francois Hollande, is scheduled to be sworn in as the new French President Tuesday; Trierweiler is quoted as saying she can't imagine herself referring to Hollande as "her husband."

"Already, the foreign journalists ask me if I will be legitimately at the [swearing-in] ceremony without being married,” Trierweiler told reporters. “In what epoch are we living?"

When compared to former first ladies like Bernadette Chirac, Yvonne de Gaulle or Daniele Mitterand, all of whom accepted the role of first lady as "a secondary role" (so said Daniele Mitterand), Trierweiler said, "These will not be me. This is not me." Nor was it former French first lady Carla Bruni. The French newspaper Liberation wrote this morning that if the talent of these first ladies was to pose glamorously before the lenses of photographers, the photographers might already refer Bruni as "Carla the Warholian," and to Trierweiler as "Valerie, the Hithcockian."

One can never be too far away from movie references in cinema-crazy France.