Bond is a guaranteed ticket seller – a phenomenon I could witness first hand in the run-up to the 7th Cineways International Filmfestival, which was celebrated in Wolfsburg this year, the home of the Volkswagen. With Barbara Carrera not attending, Bond fans could look forward to spending more quality time with actress Corinne Cléry who played helicopter pilot Corinne Dufour in ‘Moonraker’.
With the James Bond Club Germany being a partner of the festival since last year, it was my task to come up with an idea of how to build an entire day around agent 007. Thanks to a wonderful event location, the IT Campus Westbahnhof in my hometown Braunschweig, which was kindly provided by the Netzlink Kommunikationstechnik GmbH, we had the perfect space for lectures, screenings and the big panel talk.
The James Bond Symposium began on time at 10 a.m. and the front rows had filled up nicely with eager fans, awaiting a programme about they knew very little in advance. After welcoming everyone and starting with a 007 tribute clip mix, I presented my 30 minute documentary about the opening of 007 ELEMENTS in Sölden, Austria. Most of the material was shot on 10 July, where a selection of Bondfans from all over the globe had been invited to preview the cinematic installation.
Bond expert and author Danny Morgenstern took over the reigns for his 60 minute lecture on Bondgirls in which he explained, how their image had changed over the years and who of the many women could actually be girlfriend or wife to our beloved superspy. By eliminating one girl after another – due to a number of factors like stupidity or working for the opposite side – four women remained and the audience was completely taken by surprise when they were revealed. After his lecture, Morgenstern happily signed many of his books which have become THE source of top notch 007 research in Germany. No author has published more on James Bond and the fans were delighted to chat with Morgenstern about his work.
Next up was the award-winning short film ‘Schnee in Rio’ (‘Snow in Rio’) which was embedded into the programme in literally the last minute. Director Manuel Vogel and Producer Konrad Simon gave an introduction to their 26 minute hommage to classic spy thrillers and the world of Bond. Fans rejoiced over many carefully placed nods to agent 007 and gave the film a raving applause. Favourite moment: an actor portrays Bond creator Ian Fleming during a scene in the train bar. When he reveals to British secret agent Richard Stirling, that he is in the process of writing a spy novel, the agent replies, that these novels won’t sell. A nice film gem and perfect addition to the Symposium programme.
Perfectly on time, our guest star Corinne Cléry arrived secretly at 01.15 p.m. for her big panel talk. Due to the blinds being shut for the screenings, no one had noticed her arrival. It was a pleasure for me to introduce her and she received a long, welcoming applause. For the next two hours, we embarked on a journey through her entire professional life – from her first glamour shots as a model at the tender age of 17, her first film “Les Poynettes” with Johnny Hallyday all the way through her many films up to her friendship with Roger Moore and recent theatre successes in Italy.
For many years, Corinne hadn`t seen her early photos and was quite touched that her whole career was highlighted in that way, rather than just her time on the set of “Moonraker”. The audience was stunned when she told the story of how she had got the part of helicopter pilot Corinne Dufour after initially refusing participation to legendary Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli. Out of the many ladies in the Bond series, she was the only one to repeatedly say “No” to Broccoli. It was only due to his persistence and persuasiveness that Corinne was eventually cast in the role.
When the panel talk was opened to questions from the audience, a lively and dynamic discussion unfolded in which Corinne also sat down with individual fans and answered their every question. She was quite surprised that two fans asked in Italian, a language she is fluent in as Rome is her place of residence. During the entire talk, Corinne displayed a truly admirable work ethic with energetic professionality, answering every question in minute detail and later signing autographs and taking photos with a long queue of fans. What sets the Bond fans apart from other fan groups, is the unabated love and admiration we give to guest stars like Corinne which in turn makes them enjoy their time at these events to the fullest. Back in the car that took us to Wolfsburg for the evening, Corinne asked me to thank everyone who was at the Symposium and what a lovely group of people we all are.
Finally, at 05.30 p.m., the programme moved back to Wolfsburg and the James Bond evening that began with the World Premiere of ‘FOR YOUR EYES ONLY: JOHN GLEN’, the Cineways’ own in-house, feature length documentary about the five-time Bond director, who had visited the festival in 2017. Director Carsten Panitz as well as producers Dr. Michael Flintrop and Dragana Latinovic gave an introduction to the 108 minute film.
Based on a 3-hour-interview with Glen at his home in England, the film provides a wonderful insight into the long and varied career of the director. It also evaluates the importance of many of his films through interviews with prominent German film scholars such as Prof. Dr. Ivo Ritzer and Dr. Wieland Schwanebeck. Further interview partners were John’s wife Janine, former secretary to Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, Béatrice Libert from “Moonraker” and Bond leading lady Maud Adams who had appeared in “The Man With The Golden Gun” (1974) as well as “Octopussy” (1983). Even I make a short appearance, speaking about John Glen’s directorial trademark – the repeated use of pigeons. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable film that is a MUST SEE for every Bond fan.
Shortly after 7.30 p.m., it was Corinne Cléry’s big moment when Andreas Pott, President of the James Bond Club Germany, gave the laudatory speech for the prolific actress who was absolutely happy and thankful when she received the 2018 James Bond Award in front of an almost sold out screening room. After spending three wonderful days with Corinne, I can attest, that the inscription on the award could not have been more appropriate: “You have a heart of gold”.
The screening of “Moonraker” rounded off an entirely exciting and enjoyable day, while Corinne enjoyed a private dinner with several Bond fans at the Innside Hotel Wolfsburg. Lively conversation and superb food made this a memorable moment for everyone. Returning to Rome the following day from Hanover airport, Corinne asked me to thank all her fans who had come to meet her.
I’d like to thank the following for taking these lovely pictures of the event and kindly permitted me to use them: Netzlink Informationstechnik GmbH, Michael Fuhrer and Mario Perez