From Hollywood to Cannes: A Cultural Journey


It’s Saturday in a suburb of Paris, and as I gaze into the light blue sky with cotton clouds, my mind drifts to the Cannes Film Festival. A photo of Faye Dunaway I came across during my research sparked this reverie. Today is Day 5 of the festival, a significant event in the film world. Faye Dunaway’s presence reminded me of Henry Jaglom’s ‘Festival in Cannes’ (2001) and an incident from my past that illustrates the power dynamics often present in the film industry.

Personal Anecdote:

In the 1990s, I lived in Sherman Oaks, California, working on my psychology undergraduate degree at UCLA. My roommate, who was writing a biography of the great Austrian-Swiss actor Maximilian Schell, brought him into our modest two-bedroom apartment on Kester Avenue. Having someone of Schell’s stature in our home was a thrilling, almost surreal experience for me, someone from a humble background.

Maximilian Schell’s visits were eye-opening. He played my white upright Kawai piano beautifully and exhibited a certain charm and familiarity that crossed personal boundaries. One day, as I was surrounded by my books at the dining table, he kissed me on the lips. I was flattered but also confused. Was this a gesture of affection or a misuse of his fame? Another time, he casually took a potato from my plate without asking. These experiences left me contemplating the dynamics of power and consent.

By reflecting on these moments, especially in light of events like the Cannes Film Festival and this year’s short film ‘Moi Aussi’ by Judith Godrèche, I often ponder the fine line between admiration and discomfort, between consent and the abuse of power. Many years have passed since then, but this memory still comes to mind, especially as I think about my dreams of being a freelance journalist covering events like Cannes. C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?

Additional Contributions:

Moreover, my journey in the world of film extends beyond personal encounters. I had the opportunity to contribute to a German film, ‘Tim Sander Goes to Hollywood,’ where I brought filmmaker Henry Jaglom and film composer William Goldstein (The Miracle Worker, Hello Again, Shocker, Fame, Haven) into the project. Their involvement added unique scenes and talents to the production, enriching the filmmaking process.


Unfinished Projects:

Additionally, I remain passionate about two films, John Deery’s ‘The Rockpile’ and Fabio Seferi’s ‘The Planting of Trees,’ which are still in need of support to be realized as feature films. These projects hold immense potential, and I eagerly await their transformation onto the big screen. Not to mention my own project, which I’ve been working on for 15 years. But let’s keep that for another time. As actress Karen Black once told me when I interviewed her about her next project: “I have something quite stupendous in the offering but there is a kind of unspoken rule here in our city that if something is not fully set up yet and ready to swing into action, it is best not to talk about it.”

Cultural Recommendations:

For those in Paris or planning to visit, besides the typical attractions like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, I highly recommend the ‘Mexica’ exhibit at the Branly Museum and the ‘Le Monde Comme Il Va’ exhibit at the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection. Additionally, the Constantin Brâncuși retrospective at the Centre Pompidou and the exhibits at the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery are must-sees. Don’t miss Daniel Hourde’s ‘The Tree of a Thousand Voices’ on the Carrousel Bridge, a powerful piece about freedom of expression and the resilience of art, which is only on view for a few more days. Unfortunately, the Tina Modotti retrospective ‘The Eye of Revolution’ at the Jeu de Paume just ended a few days ago, but you still have a chance to see the Robert Ryman retrospective ‘The Act of Looking’ at the Musée de l’Orangerie.


Reflecting on my encounters, contributions, and aspirations in the world of the arts, I am reminded of its multifaceted nature and the endless possibilities it offers for storytelling and exploration. As I continue to navigate this world, I remain hopeful for the realization of unfinished projects and the emergence of new opportunities to contribute to the cinematic landscape. And yes, once a dreamer, always a dreamer. But if you can’t dream anymore, you’re dead.


A group of security guards at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022. Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


Film still from ‘Tim Sander Goes to Hollywood’. The scene shows us in the living room of film composer William Goldstein as he improvises on three piano keys chosen by the actor Tim Sander. – ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


Mesoamerican manuscripts from the ‘Mexica’ exhibit at the Branly Museum in Paris. Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


From the ‘Mexica’ exhibit at the Branly Museum in Paris. Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


An installation by Kimsooja at the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection in Paris: Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


A photo taken from Kimsooja’s film ‘Thread Routes currently presented at the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection in Paris. Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz


Daniel Hourde’s ‘The Tree of a Thousand Voices’ on the Carrousel Bridge in Paris. Photo credit: ARETE / Simone Suzanne Kussatz
About the Author
Simone Suzanne Kussatz was born in Germany, lived in the US for 25 years, spent a year in China, and currently resides in France. Educated at Santa Monica College, UCLA, and the Free University of Berlin, she interned at the American Academy in Berlin. Holding a Master's in American Studies, journalism, and psychology, she worked as a freelance art critic in Los Angeles. World War II history fascinates her, influenced by her displaced grandparents and her father's childhood in Berlin during the war, and his escape from East Berlin in 1955. Her brother's intellectual disabilities and epilepsy added a unique perspective to her life.
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