Confessions of a Cannes Virgin

05.15.13 5 years ago 2 Comments

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Don’t hate me cause I’m going to Cannes. This is work people. Seriously, hard, hard work.

In the south of France.

You don’t believe me do you?  Well, I have a major confession to make: Cannes was never a festival that I dreamed of attending. Sure, when I was in film school I fantasized about winning the Palme d’Or aka “the pinnacle” of global film honors, but over time you learn just how political those film festival juries are and, well, you’re probably never going to win if that’s your no. 1 goal (we’re looking at you Xavier Dolan). Still, when I segued from the dark and evil back alleys of movie studio employment to the heavenly and profitable world of entertainment news journalism Cannes wasn’t at the top of my list. Instead, I just attended my ninth Sundance Film Festival, will travel to the Great White North for my ninth Toronto and fit in my fourth Telluride in-between. Why has it taken so long for my Cannes virginity to be taken? Oh, let’s count the ways. 

1. First off, there is something about spending all day in a movie theater when it’s 80 degrees out and the beach and Mediterranean are right there. Logic dictates that walking along the beach, laying out or jumping in the water should take priority. At least in Sundance it’s cold and snowy (and there are so many films there is no time to ski). Toronto is, well, Toronto, and Telluride has enough beauty to offer as you walk from one venue to another. Of course, last year it rained during the entire Cannes festival, I had no idea the Mediterranean was chilly this time of year and it will be warmer in LA than Nice when my plane lands. Whoopsie.

2. Shocker, but I am one of the few people that is not a fan of Paris. Let me explain. A decade ago my sister and I took my mother to Paris for her 60th birthday. This was a dream trip for her (she’d never been to Europe) and an absolute nightmare for me. I got incredibly sick on the way over. Air Canada lost my bags and delivered them to me the day before I returned to LA. I basically wore the same clothes for four straight days thinking my bag was arriving every night (bad planning on my part) and felt like crap. So, happy memories for Mom, not so happy for me.

3. I don’t dislike the French, but I’m not thrilled about what the language did to my high school GPA (ah, our youthful mistakes). Growing up in New York, many of us were dumb enough to take French instead of Spanish as our foreign language (I know, incomprehensible today). Some of us, namely moi, were actually dumb enough to keep taking it for two years past my graduation requirements because some guidance counselor said four years of a foreign language would help you get into a better college. I’ll never forget years later looking at my high school transcript and realizing how the B-, C, C+’s I was getting in les class de Francais was dropping my overall GPA like a stone. Sacrebleu! It didn’t help I’d taken three extra years in middle school (that’s seven overall for those counting at home) and it all went in one ear and out the other. Good times.*

*It didn’t really affect where I went to college. My “dream” school was NYU and I got in early admission. Of course I also ended up leaving after one semester as I quickly realized it wasn’t my dream school after all.

4. During my years at MSN writing the Hollywood Hitlist I probably could have trekked to Cannes, but it would have been on my own dime (ah, a freelancer’s life) and would have kept me from covering the big summer movies in May.

5. Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” screened in competition. Once I saw it in the States the following Fall you couldn’t get me to shut up about how ludicrous its inclusion was. (Really. I wouldn’t shut up about it.).

6. Most of the key press screenings are at 8:30 AM (hard life I know). As anyone in my family or who has worked with me over the years will tell you, to say I’m not a morning person is an understatement. Of course, I never realized with the time difference I’d actually be seeing films around 12 midnight PT when I’m normally wide awake (at least for the first day).

7. The press pass system is legendarily scary. More than any other festival, Cannes is known for having a press heirachy that can shut out a critic or writer from seeing a screening (including one you’ve gotten in line for at 7:30 AM for) with few options to catch it again. Toronto and Sundance have these issues to an extent as well, but from everything I’ve heard Cannes takes it to another level. We’ll see how fun this festival is going to be when I discover my press credential color tomorrow. Yay!

8. Coke Light sucks. Rip America and our aspartame and the other chemicals we put in our diet drinks all you want, but watered down coke is just painful. Thank god my Diet Rockstar made it through customs. And, no, I don’t drink coffee.

9. OK, now a serious reason (at this point if you haven’t realized this is mostly tongue-in-cheek I’m in big, big trouble). For a good chunk of the late ’00s very few awards season players outside of the foreign language category were premiering at Cannes. That changed recently with the debuts of films like “No Country for Old Men,” The Artist” and “The Tree of Life.” Will Oscar pop up on the Croisette again this year? That’s a big reason why journeying to Cannes is worth the effort this season.

10. Most importantly, since HitFix’s inception, Cannes was purposely Mr. McWeeny’s gig. He was unable to attend this year and I will do my best to carry the load with Mr. Lodge in his honor (and Drew is fine, conflicts just arose).

So, here we are. Cannes.

Now, can someone teach me how to tie a bow tie please?

For the latest from Cannes follow me on twitter at @HitFixGregory.

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