(BY ALI NADERZAD) Tonight Abel Ferrara’s Chelsea On The Rocks (non-competition program) screened in the Cannes Festival’s Salle du Soixantieme, a gorgeous theatre adjacently located to the palais and built for last year’s 60th anniversary (see sidebar for pictures). One of the gratifying aspects of attending a film festival screening is sharing the theatre space with the actors and the whole team. Thierry Fremaux introduced the producers, including Dennis Hopper who was in black tie, and, finally, Abel Ferrara who danced his way down to the stage, like a fighter on his way to the ring, shaking hands and hugging acquaintances. The genial Ferrara looks like he could easily make friends at parties. In Chelsea On the Rocks he’s often seen and heard on camera, commenting on tape and interjecting after someone tells an especially arresting anecdote—of which there are many. This is, after all, the Chelsea Hotel, Manhattan’s only flophouse that’s classified a historical site. Some will likely find the comparison unfair, and it probably is–a little. The Chelsea Hotel, a wide and towering building facing north on West 23rd Street, is a reminder of a past rarely heard of anymore. Times Square has long ago morphed into something new and bright and exciting and the Bowery has been experiencing a renaissance, even. Yes, it’s a fact, the city block which is dominated by the Chelsea is the last bastion of a New York that is mutinous and the disagreeable. In Ferrara’s film various dandys of New York’s music underground and nightlife appear before his camera, safely ensconced in their rooms at the Chelsea hotel. Nightmarish tales of extended drug trips and overdoses alternate with tongue-in-cheek he-said she-saids. Ferrara asks one of the long-time tenants if he had heard anything about Frank in Apartment 109. “No,” is the reply, “not since the police raided the place.” The expectation of impending disaster hangs over the proceedings. A dramatization of the last days of Sid and Nancy, who famously offed each other at the Chelsea, is also shown to us by Ferrara. I’m not sure if that was a good idea. If out of place, dramatizations can have an adverse effect on the genre by cheapening the narrative. Chelsea On The Rocks set in present day and concerns people who are alive and who can tell us stories. Real subjects make better company, too, people like Ethan Hawke, Adam Goldberg, Dennis Hopper, and R. Crumb all make an appearance and testify to this hotel’s strange histories. As the end credits rolled, the audience gave a rousing applause and Ferrara sauntered around the room, asking “did you like it, did you like it?” with a smile.