The Oldenburg International Film Festival, deservedly billed as a no-holds-barred celebration of independent films, got quite a boost Friday with Nicolas Cage being honored twice and celebrated in style.
The actor, whose cult status has endured throughout the ups and downs of his career, is almost certainly the biggest celebrity to have visited the quiet German town and caused its usually unflappable Nordic population to work itself into a star-struck frenzy.
The day started with the unveiling of Cage's addition to the Oldenburg Walk of Fame, a tongue-in-cheek homage to its Hollywood counterpart, which takes place not on a thoroughfare, but in a parking lot, and is usually visited only by festival guests and the occasional pedestrian who got lost on their way to the dentist.
Not this year, as a sizeable crowd lined up well ahead of time to see the Wild at Heart star take a gracious bow in front of an appreciative audience, cheering his every move and admiring his casual-chic footwear.
But Cage had another award yet to come, with Oldenburg celebrating him yet again - along with French director Christophe Honore and actress Amanda Plummer - at a standing-room only gala at Oldenburg's lavish state theater.
Taking the stage to ear-shattering applause, the actor acknowledged his cinematic influences, which ran the gamut from Moby Dick to Godzilla to James Dean. "I was trying to figure out how to get from the living room floor into the television set, because all those little people looked so cool in that box," Cage reminisced to a gleeful audience very much aware that he had certainly become his own brand of cool.
Cage was a late addition to the festival, which had been in talks with him but was still taken by surprise when the actor actually committed. This speaks well for Oldenburg, which has become the German version of Sundance purely through word-of-mouth publicity, but also for the iconoclastic actor, who waived extra perks normally accorded to him to join in the fun.
It will be interesting to see if the Oldenburg Festival, which has had a well-publicized and ongoing fight with its city council about funding, will benefit from this sudden burst of star wattage. With every screening for Cage's films having sold out within the first few hours, one can be quite sure that fest director Torsten Neumann has gained some leverage for upcoming negotiations.