Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A day in Cannes

Cannes is, really, in just about every way, quite the place, from Festival to landscape to, well, opulence.  Over the top is not all bad, especially in the first two.  The Palais de Festival, the main venue for film viewing, is, mildly put, spectacular, containing numerous state of the art theaters, from small to enormous; the equipment and design are just wonderful.  And behind the Palais is another enormous theater, perhaps a thousand seats, located in a tent on a roof.  And still more small theaters occupy the Festival grounds.  Altogether the Festival has some forty venues from those many on the Festival  grounds to city theaters and hotel conference rooms.

None of this is accessible without "accreditation," and badges and briefcases are checked and rechecked.  How careful the Festival is with security shows up once and awhile in sightings of big dogs of the pit bull variety, all thus far nicely muzzled.  Perhaps the biggest security risk are the masses of manic photo-journalists whose monster lenses could double as a guillotine, and they wield them with abandon in cut throat competition for "the shot."  Alas, the celebs show up regularly, especially if one wishes to dart around; I've seen Angelina Jolie thrice, all pretty much by accident (really).  The Press Room, where I work when not in movies, is a lovely spot (see two photos above looking toward each side of the bay) equipped with wifi and endless free espresso.

Of course, there's Cannes the place, a lovely Mediterranean bay surrounded by mountains, as gorgeous a sea shore as I've seen, though Big Sur and parts of northern lower Michigan compete.  The sun helps, which has made rare appearance so far, though on the Sabbath it held forth, shining mightily all day long, and I worshipped abundantly in deepest celebration on an early long walk along the shoreline avenue, the famous palm-lined Le Croisette.

With the Croisette we come to the opulence part, and that is indeed over the top, chic hotel upon chic hotel upon elegant apartment building and occasional swank restaurant where breakfast can be had for a mere 80 Euros (about $120). It is all sparkly and more than a little enticing, and it goes on and on and on.  For ordinary folk, there are lovely parks, occasional beaches (most all are private), endless walkway, probably all the way to Nice, and of course, the sea and the sun.   A few blocks in from the shore one can find a modest meal, though not cheap, given the dollar these days.  

I'm here on a Press accreditation, thanks to Books and Culture magazine, and especially its editor, John Wilson, who had the idea for the venture back last Fall.  That pass gets me into most venues, save those designated for the really big folks, both in the industry and media, like the gala "red carpet" processions that show up on television.  Those events, filmdom's holy sacrament, need a special invite and, yes, black tie.  B&C put up some of the money for this, as did the Calvin Alumni Association and the C alvin Center for Christian Scholarship: thank you, thank you.  

As for the movies, I see about two or three a day, depending on schedule; they come along day by day for only a limited number of showings.  Most flicks so far have proved wonderful, the feast of the Fest, for sure, though some few perplex in how they got here and what they're after.  The work part comes in writing here and there about these films.

Next time: back to the movies.  


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