Gilles Jacob takes justified pride in the Cannes mandate to discover talent and to promote the careers of proven auteur filmmakers. Tops on his list is Denmark’s Lars von Trier, whose Dancer in the Dark was awarded the Golden Palm last May. Another was the late Krzysztof Kieslowski of Poland, a welcomed guest at Cannes for over a decade. Not to mention those heralded pacesetters among the American Independents: Jim Jarmusch … the Coen Brothers … Hal Hartley.
Hal Hartley was a natural to approach for a personal, signatured Erotic Tale. A true “independent” filmmaker, he is credited (sometimes under pseudonyms) as writer, director, producer, composer, editor, occasional actor, and you-name-it in the making of his films from conception to release. Moreover, as he once confessed, he liked what he saw in the first ET series - films by directors from different lands and cultures and traditions free to explore dreams and fantasies and libidos to say something vital and virile and vivacious about the human experience. So when Ziegler-Film approached him to join the series, the director of Simple Men (Cannes, 1992), Amateur (1994), Flirt (1995), and Henry Fool (Cannes 1998) responded with a script for an Erotic Tale that blurs the borders of genres and toys with the imagination.
Indeed, Kimono stands alone among all the Erotic Tales as a cross-cultural viewing experience. On the surface are narrative ploys reminiscent of the French Avant-Garde and image fraction advanced by New American Cinema. Below the surface are references to the Japanese ghost story, to Freudian metaphors, to dream interpretations. The icing on the cake is a string of poetic Haikus. In short, Kimono has something for every cineaste - as invitations to prestige festivals in Venice, Toronto and Rotterdam amply confirm.
A hot summer day on a country road. A young woman in her bridal dress gets kicked out of a car. Lost and frustrated, she wanders off across a sea of grass into a dark wood – and discovers an abandoned house. Tired and worn out, she lies down on a bed. When she is awakened from her nap by a clap of thunder, she sees a cup of steaming hot tea and a package on the floor. She opens it – and finds a kimono. The bride knows she no longer is alone ... but should she put on the kimono?