Up a narrow pedestrian walkway off the Croisette at 3 Rue Bateguier sits the unassuming Le Petit Lardon, or “the little bacon.” The restaurant seats twenty and serves traditional French fare as delicious as it is unassuming, while offering a friendly service uncommon in Cannes. This culinary gem is where you are likely to find Killer Films co-founder Christine Vachon, returning to the festival with Todd Haynes’ competition film, Carol, a lesbian romance starring Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett.
Vachon, a brilliant woman as bold as she is intimidating, will likely be drinking rose and holding forth on the challenges and joys of producing. Only last year she and partner Pamela Koffler celebrated the 20th anniversary of their fiercely independent company. Whether it’s food or film, you can depending on Vachon’s expertise in getting value for her money.
“It’s tiny,” Vachon says of Le Petit Lardon via phone before dashing to attend Variety‘s Power of Women in New York luncheon, “It’s where we went to celebrate after Velvet Goldmine won a special jury prize almost 18 years ago. We left the Palais after the ceremony – Todd, Toni Collette, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the producers. I think we stayed until about six AM.”
“Todd’s movies haven’t been in competition for a while. This is almost a homecoming,” Vachon says. “”We’re really proud of Carol,” which she co-produced with Elizabeth Karlsen.
Vachon continues: “Todd and I have had the great good fortune to have a collaboration that works for both of us based on trust. We enjoy each other. We went to Brown together but afterwards our relationship began in earnest. When I worked on his short feature Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, and saw how funny it was, how provocative, and ultimately how emotional, I thought, wow, I want to make sure he never makes another movie without my name on it. And, so far, he hasn’t.”
[Related: ‘Carol’ Producer Christine Vachon Talks Being Queen of the Croisette]
Coming to Cannes represents both an artistic and personal homecoming for Vachon, who has dual citizenship. Her late mother, Francoise Fourestier, was French, while her father was the American photographer John Vachon. According to the Manhattan native, “My fluency leaves much to be desired. I have a lot of family in France that I’m very close to. I enjoy they’re being able to celebrate with me while I’m there.”
Dinner table conversation at Le Petit Lardon will likely touch on two Killer Films projects that are about to start shooting: Goat starring Nick Jonas and Ben Schnetzer, and Todd Solondz’s Weiner-Dog with Annapurna Pictures. Haynes’ next film, the Peggy Lee biopic for Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard, is still in development.
“The last time we had a film in competition was Velvet Goldmine,” concludes Vachon. “I was a lot younger. An early night was going to bed at 4 AM. Times have changed…a little.”
(This article was originally written for Variety‘s Cannes daily before Carol premiered and before co-star Rooney Mara eventually shared the Best Actress prize. )