stuff, written by me

Tag Archives: Cannes 2014

Saturday May 17

I wanted to have an early start, but in spite of waking up totally un-hung-over, I was too damn tired to actually make it out for the earliest of our early meetings. Instead, met Colin for coffee and croissants after his first of the day and then went off to meet with a sales agent. Fairly uneventful early afternoon of quick meetings as I tried frantically to update my paper schedule to match my online schedule (takes time but is ultimately worth it to have both).

In the afternoon, Colin and I got to actually watch a real movie together, which was a rare treat. Saw the Critics’ Week selection It Follows, which I loved. Maika Monroe, who stars in it and also the Wingard/Barrett joint The Guest, is really shaping up to be my Indie Film It Girl of 2014. I like her a lot. Haven’t seen her in anything but those two films so far, and don’t know how far she can stretch her acting range (yet) but she’s incredibly pleasant to watch. I’m charmed, totally.

In the evening, went for cocktails just north of the centre at the apartment of my new friend Evrim, a totally delightful gentleman who I met after learning that he’s engaged to one of the coolest ladies I’ve met on the film fest circuit (BUFF director of programming, Nicole). I didn’t know just how much I needed a good Old Fashioned until Evrim made me one. Lovely times with him and his flatmates till it was time to stroll down to Papa Nino’s for pizza before the midnight screening.

Russ and Evrim at Papa Nino's

Russ and Evrim at Papa Nino’s

There was quite a wait for pizza, because Papa Nino’s only seats about 30, but it was very much worth it. I went totally rogue (I always order the “Speciale”, with various meats, veggies, and an egg cracked into the middle) and this time ordered the “Napolitaine”, an anchovy, caper and olive pizza. It was saltier than the dead sea but boy was it delicious.

The midnight screening (the Danish western The Salvation) unfortunately failed to win my heart, in spite of Mads Mikkelsen. The 140-ish minute film didn’t get rolling until around 1:00am and by the time 2:15 rolled around I realized that I actually had no interest in the remaining 70 minutes. Slightly longer thoughts to come in a future roundup, but the characters seemed both flat and thin to me, and the film lacked the soul of a good western. I can’t rightly review it, since I didn’t see the end, but man, I can definitely say one thing about Cannes. They’re not very good at selecting films for the midnight timeslot that make you really want to stay awake till 3am. At 7pm, I might have liked this film more. At 2am, I had no patience for it.

Colin & I make faces before The Salvation

Colin & I make faces before The Salvation

Skipped late-night drinks at the Grand and Petit and went straight to bed again. It was still quite late, but whatever. This sobriety-bender feels amazing!

Friday May 16

Ah, le weekend! As if the last few days didn’t feel weekend-ish enough, with all those late nights. Started out my day with our friends at MPI Media, a US-based sales and distribution company that’s been very good to us since they picked up Manborg for the US a couple of years back. Colin’s always had dealings with them regarding TIFF-matters, but now we’ve got all sorts of other things to discuss with them. Notable topic on the table at this meeting: bringing the remastered (original) Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to which they own the rights, to Toronto for a run at the Royal. How awesome would that be?

Next up, a couple of quick meetings on the inflatable couches that crowd the grassy expanse in front of the Grand hotel. The first was with a US company that’s involved in financing and packaging films. They had some films to pitch to Colin for TIFF, of course, but I also had a film to pitch to them, Rite of the Witch Goddess, which is hot right now because of that whole Fantasia Frontières thing you might have heard about. The second meeting is with a Serbian director & producer about a film they want to show Colin. The producer was responsible for one of my faves from the homeland, Tears for Sale, which Colin showed a few years ago.

this is what the couches look like, and boy do they get crowded

this is what the couches look like, and boy do they get crowded 

They give us their promo materials and we zip off to a Cannes Classic screening of , which I’ve never seen before and Colin’s only seen on VHS. Coming to Cannes and mostly watching old movies is a funny experience, but Dragon Inn is definitely one of those amazing martial arts films that makes me understand why people get obsessed with kung fu films.From that, straight to the HÖFF reception where we drank vodka with our beloved Estonians, then to the Plage de Palmes for the TIFF cocktail, which on a sunny day like Friday was the perfect place to be.

They give us their promo materials and we zip off to a Cannes Classic screening of Dragon Inn, which I’ve never seen before and Colin’s only seen on VHS. Coming to Cannes and mostly watching old movies is a funny experience, but Dragon Inn is definitely one of those amazing martial arts films that makes me understand why people get obsessed with kung fu films.From that, straight to the HÖFF reception where we drank vodka with our beloved Estonians, then to the Plage de Palmes for the TIFF cocktail, which on a sunny day like Friday was the perfect place to be.

Colin in front of the Dragon Inn poster

Colin in front of the Dragon Inn poster

Had no dinner plans on this night, which is just as well, because I scored a ticket to the Atom Egoyan film, The Captive (a red carpet affair, though I’m very sorry I did not take a picture of my amazing ensemble – floor length red halter gown, matching red lipstick, and beat-up jean jacket, which for the record they made me remove to walk the red carpet). I have lots of thoughts about The Captive that are less negative than many of the reviews I’ve read, but I’ll probably save them for after the fest so that I can articulate them properly.

nice to see Atom using some National Canadian Film Day messaging in his Cannes press

nice to see Atom using some National Canadian Film Day messaging in his Cannes press

After the film I was briefly tempted to stop by the Petit Majestic but instead hoofed it home to find that Colin had popped a leek tart into the oven for me, since I skipped dinner. Bless his heart. A sober end to the night. What a sweet relief that was.

Way back in Berlin this February I updated everyone on the progress of Replace, a very cool psychological thriller / body horror film that Colin and I are working on. It’s a Canadian-German co-pro and we’re thrilled to be working with David Miller (Siddharth, Blackbird, Amal, countless other great Canadian films) and the writer-director and producer team who we affectionately refer to as “our Germans”, Norbert Keil and Felix von Poser.

the giant Replace poster at the 108 Media booth

the giant Replace poster at the 108 Media booth

In Berlin we announced that the film was happening. In Cannes, we announce that we’ve almost locked our cast – Rebecca Forsythe (she’s this guy‘s daughter but she got the role on her own merits), German model-actress Lisa Tomaschewsky, and two Canucks – Ksenia Solo & Michael Ironside (did you know he was Canadian? He is).

Guess who I’m most excited about?

All of them, of course. C’mon, I don’t play favourites! Anyway, here’s the Playback article about it. Wheee!

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 3.25.41 PM

Wednesday, May 14

First day. Got up, felt slightly hung over, ate a bowl of granola with strawberries and bananas on it, felt like a champ for buying those things the day before (or having roommates who did) and headed out into the market. Outfit was professional but comfy. Hair was windswept. Sunglasses were definitely on.

First day of the market, so it’s a good idea to take a stroll around, check out the Palais, visit some booths, orient yourself. Pick up the daily market editions of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily and feel the pulse of the market. I did a little bit of that, and registered for the Canadian Pavilion (they gave me some guff about not being one of the “officially recognized Canadian companies” but at least they didn’t try to charge me €150 to join, like the Americans do).

Saw two films on the first day. Well, one and a half, because they were slightly overlapping so I had to leave the first early to make it to the second. I’m kind of sorry I did, because the first was a real winner – a Dutch kids’ film called A Christmoose Story about – what else?! – Santa’s talking moose! You see, the reindeer pull the sleigh on Christmas, but the moose does the test runs. Or did, until he crashed into a little boy’s shed, flinging poor Santa across town into a garbage dump. Believe me, I could talk about this movie for an hour, but you should probably just watch the trailer. Or here’s an English dubbed version, if you go for that sort of thing. The second film was Debug, the sci-fi directorial debut of David Hewlett, one of my fave Canadian actors. Daily Can-con is important.

Dinner was an absolutely lovely homemade affair with some friends who cleverly rented a villa just outside of town so that they could bring their families. Two couples and three very cute little girls make for a fun household. There was a gorgeous full moon and even an unexpected blackout (dinner by candlelight, excitement). Who could really ask for anything more?

When one of the people you’re dining with is Tim League, you kind of assume that hijinx might ensue, so instead of getting dropped off at home after dinner, we all made a late-ish stop at Petit Majestic (surprise!) and went home at 2am swearing, swearing not to repeat that performance again the next day. The hijinx weren’t over the top or anything. It’s just that when your days start early and end late, the last thing you want is to make your mornings even harder by adding a hangover to the mix. Oh, and apparently I got “whiny” about “snacks” on the way home. So says Colin.

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking south

the view from the Petit Majestic, looking south (that red awning is the cursed place itself)

Pro tip: if you are staying at a place that has a fridge, make sure it is stocked with snacks. Future drunk you will thank you! So will “in a hurry in the morning” you and “home to change clothes and dump my stuff at 3pm” you. Meals are sporadic in this town. And dinners don’t really happen before 8pm.

Thursday May 15

I’ve taken to logging into the online ticketing system constantly, so by Wednesday I’d already managed to snag myself a ticket to the Mike Leigh joint, Mr. Turner, which was playing on Thursday at 3:30pm. Unfortunately I didn’t take note of the fact that this was actually in conflict with another film I desperately wanted to see on the big screen, so I ended up having to return the ticket.

Important tip: if you order a ticket for an official screening in Cannes, you can cancel your reservation online before you go to pick the ticket up at the box office. But if you go and get a physical ticket, and then decide not to use it, you absolutely have to return it before a certain hour (or find someone else to go in your stead) or you will be penalized in the points system and it’ll screw up your chances of getting tickets to other things in the days to come. They scan those tickets on the way in, so they know if yours has been used.

Anyway. Returned the ticket to for Mr. Turner and went to see the 1992 Quebecois film Leolo instead, which was recently restored and being showcased in Cannes Classics. What a gorgeous and shocking and heartbreaking and extremely funny movie. Loved it. Went with my friend Simon, from Fantasia, who told me in advance that it was one of his faves, so I was prepared to love it because he’s got great taste. But man! Can’t recommend highly enough.

Dinner was with a wonderful, dear friend and a couple of new folks that she introduced us to at a place at the top of the hill in the old town, where they had a live Mariachi band playing. You heard me right. Authentic French cuisine and Mariachi. They were very spirited.

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking north

The view from the Petit Majestic, looking north

On the way home we swung by the Petit Majestic (what is wrong with us?) and were once again somehow hoodwinked into staying well past 2am. It was worth it though, because we got to catch up with Chad and hear about his first couple of days. I get the feeling he’s having a good time.

I, for the record, am having a great time.

me - and incomparably sassy fellow Torontonian and PR maven, Daniela Syrovy - having a great time

me – and incomparably sassy fellow Torontonian and PR maven, Daniela Syrovy – having a great time

The flights were long, and our stopover in Frankfurt was even longer (seriously, like eight hours) but I watched a great Bollywood film (basically Romeo and Juliet, but more dancing) and read a friend’s (wonderful) script, and slept for a wee bit and ate complimentary sausages in the Frankfurt airport lounge. Besides, I’m not jaded enough to grumble about a trip of any length that lands me in Cannes, the jewel of the international film festival circuit, and the market that I hear more people complain about than any other. Quit grumbling, weary film professionals! You’re in the south of France! Is that a glass of rosé I see in your hand? Knock it back and look up at the (for now, at least) sunny sky and thank your lucky stars that this is your life. It’s pretty swell to be here.

seriously, the dancing!

seriously, the dancing!

Arrived in Cannes around dinnertime on Monday and headed out into the (quiet, nearly deserted) streets in search of something that would make us fall asleep. Settled on pasta, started feeling dozy, but then ran into some pals from Fantasia who joined our table and perked us right back up.

The apartment this year is strangely and badly laid out and has lots of frustrating quirks (like the fact that the bathroom door handle comes off in your hand every time you try to open it, or the fact that there are four people staying here but there is only one bowl in the kitchen), but who’s complaining? Certainly not me (see paragraph one, above). I just won’t close the bathroom door, no big deal.

On Tuesday Colin spent many hours in a TIFF staff meeting while I napped (woke up at 6am, felt like one million Euros, and crashed by 2pm – thanks, jetlag!) and then met up with Ultra 8 Pictures’ latest recruit, our Washington D.C. based acquisitions consultant, Chad Eberle. You know how some people do like, “fantasy baseball”? Well, Chad does “fantasy film programming” and the kid’s a natural. The tracking list he’s developed just as a hobby could easily rival any professional programmer’s. We’re delighted to have him on board to help build the U8P empire.

Papa Nino's won't be this quiet again for at least 10 days

Papa Nino’s won’t be this quiet again for at least 10 days

Chad and I went to Papa Nino’s for pizza while Colin noshed with the TIFF team, and then we all met up at the Petit Majestic, where everyone ends their night (every night) and where I proceeded to try to keep pace, beer-wise, with our dear friends from FrightFest. Pro tip: don’t try that unless you’re a plucky Serbian gal with a strong constitution. Good thing I am one of those! Phew. And speaking of FrightFest, if you only read one Cannes blog this year, let it be their Postcards From Cannes (I don’t think they’ve started publishing yet, because the festival hasn’t started yet, but here’s a link to last year’s to give you the flavour of the thing. Those London boys are charming, and then some.

photo 5

outside the Petit Majestic, new recruit Chad, FrightFest’s Paul McEvoy, and that guy Colin who I travel with and who everyone’s always so happy to see

As I write this, it’s a sunny and warm Wednesday morning and the market is just a few hours old. I’m about to pack up my schedule, toss on my sunglasses, and head out into the world. My first movie of the day is going to be some sci-fi Can-con, so life is good.

… sometimes, they get me down. And other times, I’m reminded of the fact that I’m working with a bunch of lovely and talented people who deserve success and happiness and I’m delighted to be involved. This week is full of the latter kind of feeling. There are a few exciting announcements coming later in the week about two (or maybe even three?) of my wee little film seedlings, but today lemme give you some updates about two films that are actually done (or close to it) – Another, and WHY Horror? 


First of all, that poster is damn gorgeous. Secondly, Jason Bognacki is a talented filmmaker and I’m thrilled that Colin and I came on board to help his film get out into the world. As you can read in this article on Bloody Disgusting, Epic Pictures Group has just snapped the film up for world sales, and it’s having its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend.We’ll be toasting with glasses of rosé from afar. And if you have any friends in Seattle, send ’em to the film!

Why Horror poster clean

WHY Horror? has been shot, dozens of interviews are in the can, and the team is frantically editing the film together. They too have recently been picked up for international sales by the French company WTFilms. They also represent another film that we over at U8P have our fingers in, Joseph O’Brien’s Devil’s Mile, which is finally done and will be having its world premiere later this year (nothing we can announce yet, but we have high hopes). Check out the Screen Daily and Deadline blurbs about WHY Horror?’s spot on the new WTFilms doc slate.