Today was filled with meetings topped off by a cocktail party and a relaxing dinner with friends. I spent part of my day strolling the long row of national pavilions, which I thought I might describe here, because they’re really a bit of a marvel of pop-up architecture. how they even manage to build the dozens (hundreds?) of small white tent-like structures in the days leading up to the fest is beyond me. And I was here a few days early and got to watch the giant trucks unloading building materials, and grumpy French guys with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths hammer it into place!
Surrounding the Palais (aka, the convention centre + multiplex / beating heart of the festival) is an endless row of white tents that form the “international village”. They’re national pavilions. Every country has their own, where the local film commission and/or talent from the region is represented, where people go to find out more about partnering with or producing in that region.
Hilariously, Quebec has a separate pavilion rather than sharing the Canadian one. Make of that what you will, and vive le Quebec libre, etc etc.
Most of the pavilions have “happy hour” cocktails to encourage people to come in and meet with them. So far I’ve been invited to several but haven’t had time to attend any. I’m looking forward to Estonia’s and Serbia’s most of all, because it’ll be nice to see some old friends.
Many people use the pavilions as a place to stop off between meetings and check their email (the Canadian, at least, has wifi). Others use them as a place to actually have meetings (again, the Canadian one has lots of little tables, and when the weather is nice, the back room opens out onto the beach). Sometimes, the pavilions host events – anything from info sessions to tell people about the various benefits of the country’s film industry, to informative workshops or panels for people from that country, to fun social events, to the aforementioned cocktail hours. Some of the pavilions (coughAmericancough) charge money for a ‘membership’, without which you can’t enter. At the Canadian pavilion, visitors are asked to register, and Canadians are given a (not very attractive at all) Canada lanyard to hang around their necks, which identifies them as “canuck enough to enter”. When I enter without the Canada lanyard, I routinely get glared at and asked who I am there to meet. With it, I get free espresso and a password for the wifi.
This afternoon, TIFF and the OMDC co-hosted a cocktail party (for which, miraculously, the rain actually stopped). TIFF doesn’t hold court in the Canadian Pavilion, but it does host a great cocktail party every year at the end of the endless row of pavilions, at a beachside terrace called the Plage des Palmes. It’s an afternoon affair where various Canadians and friends of the festival from around the world congregate to (what else?) drink rosé and chat.
My plan had been to schmooze the Canadians – introduce myself to the OMDC, talk to other Canadian producers, pimp my projects, and so on. Instead, I spent almost the entire time talking to friends. Sometimes, I am really bad at productive business schmoozing. But I did get to pull out one of my amazing purchased-in-Berlin dresses. Just a brief change of pace from the rest of my Cannes fashions, all hand crafted by my personal designer (I mean, mom).