Veteran Israeli producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus hit the Palais des Festivals this evening for the Cannes Classics premiere of Hilla Medalia’s documentary The Go-go Boys, charting the rise and fall of their infamous indie studio the Cannon Group.
“Cannes owes us big time. We helped put the festival on the map as a place to do business so it’s nice to be getting this screening at the Palais,” says Golan.
Throughout the 1980s, the Israeli cousins, or Go-go Boys as they were known, were a notorious sales force on the Croisette, operating out of the Carlton Hotel, where they pioneered the art of the pre-sale and slate deal.
“In the mid-1980s, they used to call Cannes the Cannon Film Festival. The buyers loved us because we did a lot of promotions and parties and screenings in the Palais, ” says Globus.
“The first time we came to Cannes was in 1964-5. We went to sell black-and-white, Hebrew-language movies,” adds Globus. “Did we sell them? Of course we did, we always sell. In the 60s we worked out of the lobby of the Martinez, then we moved to the Carlton, first basing ourselves in the lobby and on the terrace and then out of suite 241 for about 20 years.”
The Cannon Group is mostly remembered for its action B-pictures but the company also financed a fair amount of art-house fare too, producing the films of Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavetes and Franco Zeffirelli.
“The action movies paid for the art-house movies,” says Golan, says one of his proudest Cannes’ moments was bringing Andrey Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train to Cannes in 1986.
“We had five films in competition that year,” notes Globus. “We always had a lot of films. I had a partner who liked to do movies and always said “yes” to everyone… it was one of the reasons we split. I wanted to do cut the number of films and raise the quality but Menahem just kept making more and more movies.”
It’s been nearly 20 years now since The Go-go Boys have sold a film on the Croisette but remaining true to form 84-year-old Golan is hoping to drum up some finance for his upcoming film Snipers, a $10m project about American soldiers in Afghanistan.
“We could shoot it in Israel or Afghanistan. We have a script and hope to sign big stars. I will direct,” he says.