This year’s Monte Carlo Comedy Film Festival features guest of honour director John Landis and in this article he shared his experience working with the stars of American comedy and entertainment.
“It’s hard to make jokes in a country that is not one’s own. One is never funny in another language.” These are the words of Michael Radford. The British director is the president of the jury of the 14th Monte-Carlo Film Festival of the comedy. And he will have to acclimatise to an international sense of humour to determine which, of the nine feature films in selection, deserves a prize. Recently, for the launch of the festival, its organiser Ezio Greggio highlighted the fact that: “The success of this festival is to have important figures in film that follow us.”
On Sunday evening, for the grand gala of the festival, Monica Bellucci, Michel Legrand and Costa Gavras are expected on stage.
Comedy, a complex genre
John Landis is also a guest of honour for this 14th edition. The American filmmaker helped create a number of comedies with Eddie Murphy in the 80s (A Chair for Two, Beverly Hills Cop, A Prince in New York). He is also the creator of the mythical Blues Brothers and the man behind the camera for Michael Jackson’s Thriller clip.
“Comedy is one of the most complex genres of cinema with horror films. When it comes to provoking a physical response in the viewer, laughter or fear, this is the most difficult thing to do.” And he elaborated: “Look: in every country there are legendary stars of comedy who are not known outside their borders, like Fernandel in France,”
Though he has never filmed Fernandel, John Landis has still captured two American legends with his camera. With actor John Belushi, he shot the Blues Brothers.
“He was an incredible actor. With a single expression of his brow, the audience knew what he was thinking. The scenes shot with him are among the favourite moments of my career. There is not a day that I don’t think of him and I am angry that he had such a tragic end” ̶ addicted to drugs, John Belushi died of an overdose in 1982.
In Landis’ pantheon, we also find Michael Jackson, for whom he directed the video clips Thriller and Black or White.
“When Michael would enter a room, we wouldn’t even notice. He was small and discreet,” remembered John Landis. “But in a packed stadium, for those who saw him on stage, even with the special effects, the lights, the fireworks, for 100,000 people we saw only him.”
This 14th edition of Monte Carlo Comedy Film Festival has truly been fortunate to include director John Landis as a guest of honour and such an established Hollywood figure.