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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Penn in CannesYesterday, Felisha Liu (W'09) shared some of the good, bad and disappointing films she saw at Cannes.

She also mentioned that

"Cannes is a private festival for industry professionals. As such, the only way to get tickets to premiere screenings is to beg. The industry insiders are penalized for not using their allotment of tickets so they are looking to give away their tickets as such as I was looking to get one."
On this note, in this second installment of our 5-part "Penn in Cannes" series, Felisha talks about
  • the competition for tickets outside of the Palais Grand Lumiere (main theater)
  • the hierarchy of badge holders
  • why having a "Cinephile badge" was a very humbling experience
  • how she was able to gain access into some of the restricted parts of the festival despite just having a "Cinephile badge" (great tips for future Cannes festival goers!).
Click here to read her post!

Check back tomorrow when Felisha shares with us some of the Penn Big wigs of entertainment she met in Cannes!

Read Part 1: Penn in Cannes: The Good, The Bad, and The Disappointing

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Per Felisha:

Swallow Your Pride and Beg
"Begging is a humbling experience. You smile, you make eye contact, but most times the object of your attention just averts his eyes and walks away.

Despite warnings of impossibility, I held out my sign for the opening film of the festival, Blindness (2008). Very green to begging, I stood in front of the accreditation tent to the right of the Palais Grand Lumiere main theater. I thought that by standing apart from everyone else, I would have a better chance at being visible. What I failed to realize was that the reason everyone was crowded around the front of the Palais was because that’s where the tickets were.

After an hour or so of awkwardly shifting about, the guards at the accreditation tent took pity on me and told me in broken English that I should consider moving to the other side of the Palais by the exit doors. By that time, I had come to the same conclusion.

As 7:30pm drew closer, I began to see little shiny objects in the men’s tuxedo jackets. Now with the image of the Holy Grail ingrained in my mind, my eyes became lasers scanning for the elusive ticket. By this time, several of my friends had gotten tickets. I was satisfied with the knowledge that I was not going to get into the early showing. But as 11:30pm approached, I was one of the only people without a ticket for the second screening. I began to doubt not only my begging abilities, but myself.

It is hard not to take rejection personally. It is very frustrating to see your friends get tickets one by one, knowing that you may not get into the screening. Self-doubt creeps in; even though rationally you know that it is just luck. I personally witnessed two girls who got tickets after holding their signs up for less than 5 minutes. On the other hand, I had been begging for more than 5 hours. Ugly thoughts of jealously and self-loathing pervaded my thoughts.

Out of nowhere, a man walked up and handed me a shiny ticket. A rush of relief washed throughout my body and my sense of self-worth finally returned.

The Cinephile Badge: A Tease and a Necessary Evil
The Festival de Cannes is experienced much differently through the eyes of a Cinephile, which the Penn-in-Cannes students were. In a visible hierarchy based on badge color, the Cinephile badge is a necessary evil. While you need a badge to get into the theaters, the Cinephile badge is the worst of the bunch. It immediately labels you as an “outsider” from the industry, a peon not much better than the gawkers without any accreditation. The Cinephile badge is a tease; it lets you have a taste of the festival but will not let you take an entire bite.

The benefits of the badge are easily taken for granted but still valuable. The Cinephile tent proved to be a godsend if you are lucky and get there in time for a desired ticket. The tent is an equalizer among all Cinephiles. There is no level of distinction among Cinephiles other than your luck at the time. Ben Epstein tried to outsmart the accreditation system with a Short Film Corner badge, only to be thwarted by not being able to get a ticket from the Cinephile tent while the rest of us all got tickets to the Lumiere premiere. Also, some tickets that we begged for were orange, which meant that some sort of badge needed to accompany the ticket for entrance. Some beggars who did not even have a Cinephile badge were not able to use their free tickets. For once, the Cinephile badge proved to be worthwhile.

The Cinephile badge proved to be a very humbling experience—the negative aspects of the badge were plenty. It does not allow entrance to the Market, International Village, the Palais, and many of the smaller theaters. It does not allow one to reserve tickets through the points system granted to every other accredited person. It is the mark of an amateur in an environment all about reputations and connections. It tells the world that you are not in the industry; rather, you are just there to watch movies like any commoner. Even the lowest staff member of a tiny production company garners more respect than an upcoming film student who may eventually be the next Spielberg.

Inadvertently, the Cinephile badge provided to be a godsend because of the complementary black badge holder necklace. It proved to be extremely useful, separate from the badge. My friends and I quickly determined that the Market entrance to the left of the Palais was very strict about not letting Cinephiles in. We even begged a random badge holder to be our escort, but to no avail. The guards still didn’t let us in. But on the other side of the Palais, there was an entrance by the yachts that was much more lax about badges. They thought we had legitimate badges because we walked in like professionals covering our Cinephile badges with Variety magazines. Once inside the International Village, we were able to walk around the part near the American Pavilion by turning our Cinephile badges around. But as soon as we wanted to enter the other part of the International Village further down the Croisette, the Cinephile curse struck again and we were denied admission. And then got kicked out of the International Village."

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