Home France Lights, Camera, Madness: Le 66eme Festival de Cannes

Lights, Camera, Madness: Le 66eme Festival de Cannes

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Hear from AIFS student Elise about her experience at Le 66eme Festival de Cannes during her semester abroad on the French Riviera.

Cannes has now returned to its rightful state of tranquility after being taken over by the film world. I, on the other hand, feel as if I’m still working towards full recovery from the thrill and pandemonium that ensued during the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

It was quite the sight to see the town that I have called home now for 4 months increase three-fold in the amount of suit-wearing men with mysterious badges, the different languages being spoken, and tourists overtaking the bus system all the way from La Bocca.

Cannes was another world entirely for 2 weeks.

Though tiring, stressful, and frustrating as it got in the low points over the course of the festival’s run, I didn’t expect anything less. Cannes wouldn’t have the reputation it does for being the mecca of film were it not for the crowd it attracted here who just happen to come bearing intense agendas and/or limited knowledge of French. Yet, the highs were all of what I hoped to experience and then some.

My internship with FilmFestivals.com had a shaky start due to our uncertainty as to what exactly we were doing, but with the reassurance of our supervisor, Bruno Chatelin, after the first two days of collecting all our footage and photos from the beginning of the festival, my fellow intern Caroline Meintzer and I started to get in a good groove of things. Our job as “film festival correspondents” for the website allowed us the opportunity to put our blogging skills to work.

Almost every morning, we would head down to the Palais, the center of the Croisette where conferences were held, movies were shown, the red carpet laid, and movie stars arrived to and film some quick shots with Nadine. With our badge, a market circulation one, we were able to enter the Palais, go through the backdoor entrance at “Les Entrée des Artistes”, and tour the Marché du Film where many international production companies had their own booth.

Most importantly, we were able to catch the stars of the films shown this year as they arrived for their press conferences for the five minutes they could spare to sign some autographs, take some photos, and answer basic questions like, “Your feelings for tonight sir/ma’am?” However, this did depend whether or not that actor/actress felt like it doing that part of the publicity scene or not. 

It was certainly nice to be able to get to see the nightlife of the festival but at the same time, the early starts to the day and the late ends began to take its toll. Soon enough, all the days started to blur together.

The better days, however, I remember clearly. They always happened to be ones that taught me a lesson or two about this business of film such as…

  • The day I met Drive director, Nicolas Winding Refn’s, stepfather whilst waiting for the cast of “Inside Llewyn Davis” to arrive. I had come 45 minutes before they were scheduled to come just to get a good place in the press area and I started up small talk with him. At first I only thought that his son acted in Drive since I didn’t hear him clearly, but upon asking for clarification for what his son actually did in Drive, he proudly said that his son directed it. The man was incredibly nice and even he, the stepfather, made it clear that although he’s been coming to the festival for almost 20 years, he doesn’t get VIP treatment just for being a family member of one of the director’s in competition because everyone is “important” here. He had to wait in line just like everyone else, holding a camera and microphone to get footage for the TV channel he has been working for in Denmark. Just a man doing his job.
  • The day I met Scott Feinberg from The Hollywood Reporter. I was waiting outside Majestic 66 Beach for Nadine to finish up there when he asked me if he was in the correct place. I assured him he was although I didn’t recognize him right away and let him know that the director he was about to interview was inside the lounge area. Upon further chatting, I asked him his name and with a firm handshake, he introduced himself as, “Scott Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter.” It was rather crazy since I was just on his website two days prior and had been watching his daily video diaries on The Hollywood Reporter’s YouTube channel. His work is fantastic and I was sure to let him know that enthusiastically. You can watch the videos here.
  • The days we were able to catch a few star sightings. Christoph Waltz was the first. Then Sofia Coppola and Emma Watson for “The Bling Ring”. Later on…Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Mathieu Amalric, Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Marion Cotillard, Kristin Scott Thomas, Nicolas Winding Refn, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Renner, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, James Franco, and so on.
  • The day I was able to actually have a conversation with an actor. Michael B. Jordan from “Friday Night Lights” had a movie that was playing in “Un Certain Regard” and he was a genuine guy. It was his first time to the festival and we ended up seeing him two days in a row. He was truly down to earth and it was even better that he remembered us (and my tweet to him)!

The festival was a whirlwind. It came. And it went. Just like this semester. It just reaffirmed to me that I am bound for nowhere else but that industry where the thrill is high, the work is rewarding, and where opportunities are boundless.

Something tells me, I’ll be back.

But at present, I must get to packing up the rest of my things. I leave to London tonight. If only I could wrap me head around the end of this monumental chapter of my life and the beginning of completely different adventure. With my Eurail pass in hand.

I will write when I’m in London on the final wrap up here in Cannes, because if I write now, I will most certainly get all emotional and what not. Alors, je vais ecrire demain.

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