Cannes Diary: Notes from the Festival de Cannes, May 12-23
by Anna Keizer
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And So It Begins…
Bonjour tout le monde! Or in more familiar terms… Hi, everybody. Greetings from Cannes. So, where should I begin? The films? The celebrities? The ever-present paparazzi? It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago, this was a sleepy coastal town on the French Rivera. Now it’s like Hollywood spread wings and flew across the pond for the next two weeks. The fans line up across from the Palais in the wee hours of the morning just to catch a glimpse of Brad and Jennifer twelve hours later as they premiere Troy.
The paparazzi swarm at night, hoping that the “common folk” will want to buy a photo of themselves at the kiosk that’s been conveniently erected down the street. On your way to a red carpet screening, crowds reach out to you, pleading “Je veux votre billet!” No, you cannot have the ticket that I waited in line for for two hours. But I digress. Most people associate Cannes with film and of course, they’re right. Hundreds of films are screened here everyday. If you can actually finagle a ticket, the choices are endless. Most prominent are the films in competition for the coveted Palme d’Or. Among the nominees this year are Emir Kusturica’s Life Is A Miracle and Paolo Sorrentino’s Consequences Of Love. Without a doubt, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is the hottest ticket in town. Add on to those the films that are out of competition, in “Un Certain Regard”, market films that need distribution and all the others being screened around town… let’s just say that you can easily see a film for every hour that you’re here. That’s my idea of heaven.
But folks, the fun doesn’t stop there. We have press conferences and filmmaker panels- speaking of which, from what I heard at a Shrek 2 panel discussion, get ready for a third installment in the next few years. Moreover, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you just might be drinking champagne next to Quentin Tarantino in the beautiful Carlton Hotel. Now that’s fun for the whole family! Signing off for now…
- Anna -
The Best Day Ever!
So, I’m sitting in the American Pavilion, and who do you think walks in? You get one guess. Okay, I’ll just tell you- Mr. Michael Moore. As he walked by me, my jaw was literally hanging to the floor. After twenty minutes of just staring at him, a friend finally pushed me onto the patio where he was having lunch. Yes, I shamelessly interrupted his meal. Our encounter lasted maybe a minute, but it was still such a thrill for me. He was completely gracious and thanked me for supporting his films. Then not even an hour later, I saw Jesus! Well… the guy who played Jesus anyway. Jim Caviezel came to officially open the Pavilion, so that was fun, too. It doesn’t stop there, though, folks. I got to see Michael Moore yet again when I attended a Variety panel of American directors moderated by Mr. Roger Ebert. Besides Moore, the attendees included Alexandra Cassavetes (Z Channel), Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation), and Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman). Although Ebert was giving equal time to all the directors on the panel, the discussion came back a few times to Moore’s distribution problems in the United States. Although disappointed that Disney wouldn’t release the film, the director of Fahrenheit 9/11 was still confident that his movie would open on the Fourth of July holiday. And to finish my already awesome day, I attended a screening of Old Boy. Directed by South Korean Park Chan-wook, it’s the second in a trilogy of films based on the idea of vengeance. If this gets released in the US, you have to see it. Incredible! Alright, folks, until next time…
- Anna -
An Even Better Day!
Let me just say right now that I’ve never been a lucky girl. I’m not one of those people who finds a random fifty dollar bill on the sidewalk or even one dollar for that matter. I never win radio contests, shopping sprees or a trip to some tropical island. None of that matters anymore, though. Since the beginning of the festival, I was told that getting a ticket to Fahrenheit 9/11 would be literally impossible. The Lumiere theatre holds about four-thousand people, but when you have a couple hundred-thousand people in town who ALL want to see it, the odds are stacked pretty well against you. That said, it’s an hour to showtime and I get a message that I’m urgently wanted at the American Pavilion. Told that it has “something” to do with a ticket to Fahrenheit 9/11, I run there from across town. I come to find out that there are four tickets available for the show, and I’m in the running for one of them. They do a raffle. My name is the last one called. At that point, everything went to slow motion- me jumping up and down in joy, the ticket being handed over to me, the other contestants looking at me in disdain and bitterness. Now we kick it into high gear. I run to the ticket office to make sure that my casual attire will be okay for the movie. The women give me a lukewarm response and a “maybe”. So with a half hour to go, I run across the street and buy the first dress I see. I wasn’t about to take any chances with this one. I change in the bathroom and enter the theatre dripping in sweat. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but I did it. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. It was incredible, folks. I pray that this film gets released before the next election. I’m not going to digress into some political rant, but this film needs to be seen. I’ll just say that it could change a lot of minds about who should our next President. (In other words, NOT Bush.) Okay, I’ve said my peace. And now that I’ve fulfilled the one wish I had for this festival, I feel at peace. Now it’s time to just enjoy the ride. Until next time…
- Anna -
Zombies On The Beach
Well, after the Michael Moore hoopla of the last few days, things have been much more laid back around here. For me, anyways. My time has been spent exploring the streets of Cannes, watching movies and trying to have as much fun as possible. I’m happy to say that I’ve faired pretty well. During one afternoon, I was wandering around with no particular destination. I noticed a small crowd of people converged in an alley. Not knowing what they were waiting for, I just decided to wait there with them. Soon I realized that we were in fact behind the Majestic hotel. Sure enough, five minutes later the stars of Kill Bill- Volume 2 exited for that night’s show. Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine all came out. That was a fun little treat. Later on, I got to experience my first beach screening. It was beautiful. The spotlights waved through the night sky, highlighting the docked yachts in hues of purple, pink and blue. The waves crashed gently onto the shore. A slight breeze moved through the nearby palm trees. It was the perfect setting for… Dawn Of The Dead. Yeah, it sounded a little odd to me, too, but it was actually a ton of fun. A little wine, a lot of sand and the screams of hundreds of movie fans. How can you go wrong with that? It was the perfect ending to yet another exciting day. So until next time…
- Anna -
All Good Things Must Come To An End
Well, folks, I’m back in the States. My little adventure in Cannes has ended. I have to admit, it’s been a bit depressing. I never realized that the town really begins to clear out during that last weekend of the festival. Many of the tents close down even on Friday and Saturday. The shops and restaurants aren’t as crowded; there’s actually room to walk on the streets. That’s not to say, though, that there still aren’t things to do and see. For one, the festival’s big closer this year was Irwin Winkler’s DE-LOVELY starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. In town to promote his new film, Kline came to the American Pavilion for a Q&A session. For the most part, he discussed his love of diverse roles- anything from tragic Shakespeare to modern comedy- and his desire to work with exciting directors. (DE-LOVELY is his second collaboration with Winkler after MY LIFE AS A HOUSE.) The most memorable part of the discussion had to be when an audience member asked how he could get his script to Kline. As the rest of us groaned in annoyance, Kevin was completely gracious and held out his hand to take the script. Now that I’m thinking about it, though, I don’t remember seeing it in his hand as he left the conference room. Who could blame him? Beyond that, a personal highlight for me over those last few days was of course Michael Moore winning the Palme D’or. Believe it or not, I actually saw people hugging each other in the street when the announcement was made. So who knows… hopefully this might be a break for Moore in getting the distribution he needs in the States. I guess we’ll see.
I have to say, though, my experience in Cannes was completely worth the exhaustion and small bank account that I now have. Between my Michael Moore encounters, seeing dozens of celebrities and even more great movies, it was an incredible adventure. As this was my first Festival De Cannes, I learned some valuable lessons that I would now like to share. If you ever get the chance to attend this magnificent circus, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Be prepare to wait- for buses, for bathrooms, for tickets. It’s just a necessary evil.
2. Never be too proud to beg. You’d be surprised at how many tickets you can get minutes to showtime by simply asking around in the crowd.
3. That said, always have your formal wear with you. Carry it around in a backpack. You don’t want to miss the screening of TROY with Brad and Jennifer just because you forgot the tux.
4. Even though you don’t want to miss any movies, it’s okay to have a day of rest. Halfway through the festival, you will experience burnout. Take a day for the beach and just relax.
5. Lastly, go with the flow. Don’t feel like you have to attend a certain party or that if you miss one particular movie, your Cannes experience is ruined. Just enjoy yourself and you’d be surprised at the number of opportunities that open themselves up to you. (Remember how I got into FAHRENHEIT 9/11? I could have never predicted that.)
Okay, everybody, those are my pearls of wisdom. Thanks for indulging me, and I’ll see you next spring at Cannes. Au revoir!
- Anna -
Anna Keizer is a freelance writer and filmmaker of Dutch descent living in California.
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