There’s some controversy following the nomination of French-swiss director Jean-Luc Godard for an honorary award at the Governors Awards scheduled for November 13. Then there’s that hullabaloo understandably stirred by the Jewish press because Godard is an anti-zionist and probably anti-Jewish, too. During a lecture in Canada in the 1970s, when talking about his family’s history Godard mentioned that his dad was the anti-semite and he was the anti-zionist—talk about enlightened family values. In France it’s considered modish to support Palestine and by default to tacitly defame the Jews—it’s a vulgar and narrow-minded attitude, if not downright dodgy. Sometimes, however, racial overtones bear all and the acrimony is real.
Would it be presumptuous to say that Hollywood-hating is, by extension, America-hating, which the average French is more-than-occasionally found guilty of while remaining bewitched by American notions and culture? I thought of naming it “ambivalence,” for I am French after all, but that would just amount to political correctness.
Then, there’s also the eyebrow-raising fait accompli that Godard will shun the awards ceremony altogether–nobless oblige, presumably? Who knows? Apparently the “Breathless” director is a self-proclaimed Hollywood hater (and therefore any institution that goes with it) even though, as any director worth his salt, he is a fan of early Hollywood’s film output. Godard has had a lifelong animosity towards Steven Spielberg, has mocked “Schindler’s List” and has qualified Spielberg’s influence as a “rather tyrannical power.” During a recent conversation with Jean Narboni, a former editor of Les Cahiers du Cinema, I found out that racism was rampant at the venerable publication. Godard was one of the first Cahiers writers after its founding in the fifties.
But he bowed out gracefully of the November ceremony. Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said in a statement, “”[Godard] reiterated his thanks for the award, and also sent his good wishes to the other individuals being honored the same night — Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach–who he refers to as ‘the three other musketeers.”
Instead of an acceptance speech the show’s producer will run film clips and commentary by people influenced by Godard’s films. He’s made about seventy.