May 16, 2012

Cannes, Day 1: Begging in Tuxedoes

This morning began with a delicious pastry from a little place just down the road along the beach with two other members of the trip, Rawson and Arthur. We could hardly contain our excitement for the day ahead and the start of what was sure to be an incredible festival. Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson's new film was all set to open and all of us were determined to find our way into one of the two screenings that evening.

We had a meeting with Nicola at noon, in which he described the access that our passes provided us, which is pretty high, considering we are essentially the least relevant people at the festival (according to some). After the meeting, a group of us walked with Nicola into town and picked up the last of the free bags, after which we ran to the MonoPrix, a dollar store type of shebang, in order to pick up white boards to help us in all of our begging needs. Of course, I made the immediate decision that Hayley and I needed to have multicolored pens. Only 4 more euros, but totally worth it.

We split into pairs, and Hayley and I began our trek out into the glamorous lobbies of the hotels housing the film elite. We were a bit confused at first, unsure of how to approach the people casually lounging about, so we decided to casually browse the free Variety magazines on the table. After summoning our courage, we began to approach people, asking them if they knew of any extra tickets lying about. I got to give out my awesome Rear Window inspired business cards.

 While we were unsuccessful in our search, we met a nice artist who invited us to his art show next Thursday, some wonderful producers from Brisbane, and a sound producer from Montreal. Some people were very cold, leading to the following encounter with what we had perceived to be a nice older couple.

Hayley: Hi! I'm Hayley and this is my friend Adam! We were wondering if you knew of any tickets for tonight that were lying around?
Me: We're students from the US, and we're here on a program where we get to go to the film festival!
Man (with some sort of accent): That's very nice.
Hayley: Yeah, it's really exciting. What are you doing here?
Man: Well, I am trying to buy a movie from this woman.
Hayley: Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't want to interrupt!
Man: Yes. Please don't do that .

So... that was mildly awkward.

We ultimately realized that this approach wasn't necessarily the best. We quickly learned that tickets were only to be found right before the screenings. Begging in tuxes is the only way to go.

After lobby-hopping, we met up with Rawson and Sharon for a late lunch of pizza and salad. We stopped for some macarons, our first, which were delectable to say the least. Sharon, Rawson, and Hayley all got chocolate, while I decided to go for three - chocolate, caramel, and vanilla (listed in order of deliciousness). We walked back to the hotel and changed into our tuxedoes and dresses. Rawson had a ticket, so the rest of us left with Arthur to go beg. Arthur had incredible success, walking the red carpet next to Natalie Portman as we gazed on. We were so excited for him!

Casually the cast of Moonrise Kingdom
Watching the red carpet at the Palais de Festivals was definitely an interesting experience. The cult of celebrity was pervasive, as people cheered on everyone from Lana del Ray to Eva Longoria to judges Ewan McGregor and Diane Kruger to the cast of Moonrise Kingdom. It was quite the production, with music and an announcer, and while it was definitely fun to watch, I felt a sensation eerily close to agitation through my spine as I watched people clap and cheer.

I understand the cult of celebrity, I really do. I think that the cast of Moonrise Kingdom deserved the applause for their accomplishments. So did Natalie Portman and directors and writers. But why Lana del Ray? Not that I have anything against her per se, but she isn't even involved in the film industry! And Eva Longoria is beautiful, no doubt, but why is she idolized at Cannes for spending some time on Wisteria Lane?

The gates closed, and we all went away, disheartened but determined. We stopped for some cookies, and began to beg again for the 11:00 screening. By 9:00, I had a ticket. One down, many to go. Hayley and I met a really nice producer - a New York native who transposed to LA - who got us another, while Takara, Ari, Jaycee, and Sharon found their own success. We even managed to find an extra ticket for Zoe, Hayley's friend. We were thrilled, but it was definitely nerve-wracking - right up to the wire.

Then magic happened. We were constantly being photographed as we walked the red carpet. We saw some of our other friends waiting in the last minute line to enter, which we later found out was a successful venture, meaning that almost everyone who tried to got in!

So yeah, we just hit up the red carpet looking super fly.

Hayley and I were lucky enough to sit next to each other, in the fourth row of the theater. The Theatre Grand Lumiere was massive, unlike any movie theater I had ever been in. We gripped each other's hands as the curtains opened. The symbol of the festival appeared on the screen as the lights began to fade. To be continued...

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