Friday May 23
The final weekend of Cannes was indeed wonderful, but could have been a lot more so if I hadn’t fallen into the oh-so-familiar trap of total festival burnout. After eight or nine days of racing around like a maniac, staying up too late, and eating erratically (I swear, this town is the king of “croissant for breakfast, forget to eat until 9pm dinner”), I started to get a little scratch in my throat. On Friday, I was still ok. By Saturday … well, you’ll read that in the next blog post, eh?
On Friday, that throat-scratch was still just a distant murmur, something I barely realized would become an issue. I dragged my butt out of bed and went to two films, both of which I really enjoyed. The first was the supremely weird Hungarian dog movie White God. I look forward to writing more about this one when I do my roundup of festival faves. The second was the almost universally panned Ryan Gosling joint, Lost River. I thought it was a pretty strong debut. Flawed, sure, but nowhere near as bad as many of the totally knives-out reviews would suggest. More on both of those in my movie roundup post in a couple of days.
After the films, C + I went back to the apartment to briefly chill before dinner, which was a lovely affair with Paul (from Frightfest), Chad (from the internet) and our lovely writer & food lover & all around charming friend Jason Gorber (from Toronto – how novel) at La Brouette de Grand-Mère (Grandmother’s Wheelbarrow), a restaurant we try to hit every year for its charming fixed price menu.
There are a couple of “set” courses that get brought out to the table family style – a big bowl of delicious salad and a huge loaf of homemade terrine with lots of bread (I think I ate my annual quota of bread during these two weeks) which comes accompanied by a glass of champagne.
This followed by a smoked salmon course (which is served with a shot of vodka) followed by individually selected mains (I had the pork loin and it was mighty fine) which are served with a big batch of communal scalloped potatoes (to die for, seriously). Tim & Karrie League joined us for dessert and some final catching up (my caramel pana cotta was excellent), which would have been a perfect end to the night. But of course, we went to the Petit instead.
A dear Toronto friend had been trying for a couple of days to hook me up with a cool lady he knows from the UK who happened to also be in Cannes, and on Friday we finally succeeded in meeting up at the Petit Majestic. She was delightful, the cheap (ish) beer flowed as easily as the conversation, and before I knew it I was hoarse and exhausted and it was 4am again. Oh, Cannes. You cruel mistress.
Tuesday May 20
Is it really day seven? Has this really been going on for a week? It feels like three weeks at least. That karaoke party I went to … last night? It was at least a fortnight ago, I know it in my bones! I can feel my body aging at an accelerated pace as I ping-pong between movies and meetings in the hot sun, forgetting to eat for 12 hours at a time until I land at a dinner where the portions of rich, fatty, delicious French food make me feel woozy and disoriented, which I try to resolve by flooding my body with rosé and staying awake for as long as possible. It doesn’t seem like a logical way to cope, I know. But it’s been working for me for the eight or nine months that this festival has lasted. It has been at least eight months, hasn’t it?
I started my Tuesday by catching up on some blogging – that’s why I published not one but two posts yesterday! Then went off to see When Animals Dream, a much anticipated Danish film that’s been getting strangely mixed reviews from folks who felt it didn’t quite deliver on its horror/genre promise. Totally stunning film. I loved it to pieces, and it is very likely to end up in my top three of the fest. It’s not a horror film, but it’s a beautiful drama – a metaphor and a meditation on the oppression of women who are just trying to get by in this life (and a coming of age story as well). I was sincerely moved by it. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
In the afternoon I went home and napped. For a couple of hours. Felt really great, but I missed at least three events I’d been looking forward to including drinks with a lovely L.A. based lady-producer who I quite like and quite look up to. We hadn’t totally confirmed the location for our meeting and I didn’t get her email about it till much later so it wasn’t entirely the nap’s fault, but still, kind of a bummer.
Luckily, the evening lifted my spirits considerably, as we went for dinner with a group of pals to the newest restaurant on the Riviera (opened just nine days ago) – Dracula! It’s located at 10 rue de Constantine (a bit out of the way but hardly far) and serves authentic Transylvanian cuisine, according to the flyer. According to my belly, the five kinds of meat with polenta and soft feta that landed on my plate were very delicious and very filling. We sat at the outdoor tables but the decor inside (blood red walls, etc) was pretty great too. I hope this place survives till next year because I’d like to recommend it to many more people, and everyone’s already started to head out of town. They also serve breakfast. Stay tuned for a review a few mornings from now.
After dinner we went for drinks at an English pub called The Kingdom (Irish and English pubs, I swear you can find them in every country on earth), which we thought was a brand new place, but turns out to have been here, on blvd de la Republique, just a few doors north of Papa Nino’s, for four whole years! If you’re looking for an out of the way, quiet place for a beer (and some slightly obnoxious dance music), I recommend it. The owner was even nice to us when we tried to pull some shenanigans on his laptop playlist.
and then down to the Petit Majestic to drink Desperados (they are tequila flavoured beers and they are gross) and hang out. I got into a really interesting conversation about relationships and friendships within the film biz, with a film fest acquaintance from Tel Aviv and then realized how late it was and bolted. I hope I run into him again because it would be very worth continuing that chat!
All in all, not a banner day for “getting things done”, though actually writing two blog posts, seeing a film and napping for two hours all counts as “getting things done” so maybe I’m wrong. Productivity, ahoy.
The market is starting to draw to a close, and I am starting to feel incredibly guilty for not seeing more movies. Self doubt is creeping in. I’m wondering if I did this all wrong, if focusing on only meetings was a bad idea and if I should have been scouting the market more. I talk to journalist pals who’ve been cramming five films a day into their schedules, and festival programmers who’ve managed to achieve a decent balance of two to three films a day in between their meetings. I’ve seen a few in the market and a few out of Director’s Fortnight, but nowhere near as many as I’d hoped.
Yes, there are still a few days left and the official films are being replayed, so I’ll get my chance to catch up on many of those, but all this is just to say that I’m not an expert at managing film markets yet, and I’m not sure I did this one as well as I could have. Next time, I’ll be striving for more balance between business and … business.
Other than my sudden panic over seeing too few movies, this rainy Wednesday was a success. Attended the Fantasia Frontieres cocktail, where lots of people turned up to toast to the upcoming co-production market in spite of the rain. Since I’m representing a project that’s been selected for Frontieres this year (The Void, by team Manborg), I wouldn’t have missed the cocktail for all the rain in the world.
In the evening, Colin very nearly got us a pair of tickets to the red carpet screening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, but they turned out to be for an afternoon screening that had already passed by the time we were given the envelope. Boo!
It did save us the trouble of racing back to our apartment in the rain to change into formal wear, so instead we caught up with some friends over drinks on a lovely terrace over (what else?) rosé.
At midnight, we overcame our sleepiness and went to the Only God Forgives party & drank champagne. I probably would have rather seen the film, to be honest. Since the film was screened at 10:30pm, the party didn’t start until midnight, so it was quite brief. As in most places, Cannes has a few strict rules about noise & such, so all beach parties have to be shut down at 2am sharp. Other places will keep serving alcohol until much later into the night, but the high-end beach-front clubs and restaurants where most of the films end up having their premiere parties can’t go past 2.
The party was reasonably subdued, but we were still in a bit of a social mood, so we strolled to the Petit Majestic to end our night at the rowdy street party full of festival hooligans (probably the last truly packed night at the Petit of this fest, since lots of folks are already leaving). Two drunk steamed hotdogs later, we managed to get home to bed around 3:30am. Finally a truly late night out in Cannes! We waited long enough.