Seduced and Abandoned: pitching a film in Cannes
HBO, Oct. 28, 9:00 PM
“The movie business is the worst lover you’ve ever had in the sense that you are seduced and abandoned over and over again.” -- Alec Baldwin
For ten days in May 2012, director James Toback and actor Alec Baldwin worked their way through the Cannes Film Festival in an attempt to secure financing for a proposed film project, a political-erotic Middle Eastern adventure inspired by Bernardo Bertolucci’s classic “Last Tango in Paris.”
As they dashed around – hopeful against all odds – Toback filmed the hilarious and revealing proceedings, from pitches to billionaires, studio moguls, producers and international sales financiers, to intimate encounters with major movie stars and iconic directors whose passion for movies proves it’s still possible to transcend the madness.
The cinematic romp Seduced and Abandoned captures the tug-of-war between the eternal dream of creating pure art and the bracing reality of modern movie commerce.
A dazzling collage of interviews, classic movie clips and colorful personalities, Seduced and Abandoned features a cast that includes, in addition to Alec Baldwin, Berenice Bejo, Bernardo Bertolucci, James Caan, Neve Campbell, Graydon Carter, Jessica Chastain, Diablo Cody, Francis Ford Coppola, Ryan Gosling, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Diane Kruger, Mike Medavoy, Ron Meyer, Jean Pigozzi, Roman Polanski, Brett Ratner, Martin Scorsese and Taki Theodoracopulos.
Toback and Baldwin explore memories and money, freedom and fate, commercialism and confessions. The outcome is a film about the nitty-gritty of great movies, revealing a Cannes that is in equal parts cinematic Valhalla and madcap bazaar.
Seduced and Abandoned documents their unpredictable experiences against the background of the bustling beauty of Cannes’ Promenade de la Croisette. The intimate and often poignant conversations with actors and industry giants constitute a heartfelt ode to everything alluring about cinema, from sex and death to the lingering hope of getting one more precious chance to tell one more story through film.
James Toback and Alec Baldwin first met on the set of Woody Allen’s “Alice.” A series of long conversations later led to the ideas that evolved into Seduced and Abandoned. The plan was to travel to Cannes to pitch their story, tentatively titled “Last Tango in Tikrit,” and explore the current state of the business of cinema. There was no script, providing the opportunity for something unique and memorable to emerge from the daily uncertainty.
Bertolucci, Coppola, Polanski and Scorsese provided invaluable insights through their reflections on their careers. But surprises also punctuate the film, as when Ryan Gosling offered, according to Toback, “the richest splash of brilliant anecdotes and observations about himself and the tribulations of film actors, as revealing as anything I’ve ever seen.”
Ultimately, the film turns the camera back on those who still can’t resist the devilish and beautiful temptations of a love affair with cinema, despite the outrageous odds against success. As the film builds to its climax, there’s no doubt that Toback and Baldwin remain hopelessly seduced. But will they be abandoned?
James Toback’s most recent film was the acclaimed documentary “Tyson.” An Academy Award® nominee for his screenplay for “Bugsy,” he has written and directed “Fingers,” “Love & Money,” “Exposed,” “The Big Bang,” “Two Girls and a Guy,” “Harvard Man,” “The Pick-up Artist,” “Black and White” and “When Will I Be Loved.” Toback also wrote the original screenplay for the Carol Reisz film “The Gambler.”
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A HanWay films presentation of a Michael Mailer Films production, Seduced and Abandoned was directed by James Toback; produced by Michael Mailer, Alec Baldwin and James Toback; executive producers, Morris Levy, Alan Helene, Larry Herbert and Neal Schneider.
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