20 May 2011

Catch Me If You Cannes

We left Cannes on Wednesday evening, having missed Lars von Trier's inappropriately headline-grabbing press conference. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we just hung out, sunbathed and did a little shopping without getting too tangled up in the folle foule de la Festival. It's hard to avoid it altogether, of course, and on Tuesday evening, when we strolled down the Croisette in the hopes of seeing Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson at the gala screening of The Beaver, instead we found a crowd of people waiting to see none other than Jean-Paul Belmondo arriving at a special tribute to his career -- his first Cannes appearance in ten years and over 50 years after A bout de souffle. He may even have drawn a bigger audience than Brangelina.

The crowd outside the Jean-Paul Belmondo tribute
For someone who likes films and beaches as much as I do, the Festival is the perfect time to visit. Even though I didn't have tickets to any of the film screenings or exclusive parties, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement simply by strolling down the Croisette (past the numerous aforementioned parties at the various beach restaurants and hotels) and watching the gorgeous and the glamorous arrive at the gala screenings -- the view is pretty good (better than Leicester Square, say), especially if you are prepared to come an hour early. You can enjoy one of the free screenings of classic films shown at the Cinéma de la Plage. You can watch the paparazzi in action and laugh when they accidentally take a photo of you in the hope that you might be famous. You can read the free daily copies of Variety magazine and you can try to spot yourself in the photos of the galas in Nice Matin.

And when you get sick of feeling like the only person in town without a festival pass, you can hang out at the other end of the Croisette, which is only a ten-minute walk away but is an oasis of calm and normality with very little evidence of the festival.

If I go again next year or another year, I'll have my parents enter the residents' ballot for tickets again and hope there is less discrimination against surnames beginning with W. I'll also investigate the Cannes CinĂ©philes club as they get access to special screenings. This blog post has a number of other tips for making the most of the festival when you don't have a badge (if you turn up at the red carpet in black tie and beg, for example, you may just get lucky...maybe...). The Cannes Film Festival is certainly a very different experience from the London Film Festival -- it is nice that members of the public stand a good chance of getting a ticket for almost all of the films at LoFiFest, but if you don't have a ticket or don't book a ticket for a gala screening, you're less likely to see any celebrities at all. Also, London in October doesn't generally have as nice weather as Cannes in May (or a beach). My tips for making the most of LoFiFest can be found here.

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