Jean Seberg Festival now in progress

Guest speakers come from Europe, across U.S

After the screening of the French Seberg film “Diamonds are Brittle,” the movie’s director, Nicolas Gessner, right, discussed his feelings about the motion picture, and thoughts about Seberg. Nancy Adams, left, helped coordinate this festival, along with a legion of volunteers

The Jean Seberg Festival of the Arts, held at the IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center, continued all day Saturday with a legacy tour, roundtable discussions, film screenings, and an appearance by Nicolas Gessner, a man who once directed Seberg in a film.

“This has really been a more interactive festival than in past years,” said coordinator Nancy Adams. “The roundtable talks and the public voting for the best artwork in our contest are ways in which that has been noticed.”

In the morning, a roundtable discussion entitled “Jean Forever Relevant” was held, hosted by British writer Cedric Pulford. Later on in the day, British musician/filmmaker/writer Jude Rawlins led a symposium called “Rebel Without a Pause” discussing Seberg’s social activism. A Guided Legacy Tour of 12 key Seberg sites in Marshalltown was not only informative, but allowed attendees a chance to bond over the shared experience.

“I sat next to [director] Nicolas Gessner on the tour, and got to know him in person rather than just from the films of his I’ve seen,” said Garry McGee, Seberg’s biographer, and a regular attendee of this event.

A unique highlight of this year’s festival was the screening of Seberg’s 1965 French crime drama/comedy “Diamonds are Brittle,” which a team of folks locally and abroad worked tirelessly to create English subtitles for, as it was shot entirely in French. After the film, Gessner shared his thoughts about making the movie and about Seberg.

“This movie would never have existed without Jean,” he said. “This was my first feature film … Jean said ‘I always trust first films of directors.'”

Gessner, who is a citizen of Switzerland, gained notice after directing the Jodie Foster flick “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” (1976).

In an interview with the Times-Republican, Gessner reflected, “I want to emphasize the sunny side of Jean, not about the Black Panthers, the FBI, her husbands, etc. And I want to be an ambassador of that sunny side.”

Also going on was the opportunity for attendees to record their thoughts and feelings about the late actress through “Memories of Jean,” a documentary of sorts, filmed by Steve Muntz, who serves as broadcasting/digital media faculty at Marshalltown Community College.

The festivities wrapped for the day with the screening of the Seberg musical “Paint Your Wagon,” which costarred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin.

“It’s been fabulous,” Seberg’s sister MaryAnn Shuey told the T-R. “They always come up with new things each year, and it’s nice to again see the ‘festival family.'”

The festival continues today with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. (A flat fee of $6 will be charged for general admission). From 9:30-10:30 a.m. “Sights and Sounds of Previous Festivals” will be screened, followed by a second opportunity for “Memories of Jean,” a showing of the French documentary “Eternelle,” then the announcement of the winner of the People’s Choice award for the art contest.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or