"I step onto the velvety red carpet, taking in the building atmosphere of paparazzi hysteria and star-struck glamour. The flash bulbs are blinding and the photographers are screaming. I fix my black bow tie, ensuring its perfection in the event that I end up in the background of some Hollywood starlet’s photographs. Quentin Tarantino walks right by me and I nearly melt. Elizabeth Banks (C'96) is posing fabulously to my left. I begin my ascent to the top of the Palais de Festivals, marking each famous red step along the way. Like the celebrities, I stop on the first landing, turn and look over the crowd, grinning. When I make it to the top, I took it all in, breathing in the entirety of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and all I could think of was, “I’m back.”
I participated in last year’s Penn-in-Cannes program, run by the fantastic Nicola Gentili and Meta Mazaj. During my time here, I walked 18 red carpet premieres and watched around 25 films, with only a Cinephile badge, the lowest of the colored badge hierarchy. I accumulated much knowledge about the festival and its inner workings, making many brilliant international contacts along the way.
This year, I’m back with a film in the Short Film Corner (a subsection of the Festival) and the Marche du Film (the Film Market, the other half of the Festival that goes unnoticed by civilian eyes). With my new Festival badge, I have official access into the Palais, which was a forbidden grand fortress last year, and I hope to uncover more information and details about the Festival from the inside. I’ll be sharing everything I learn and hopefully illuminate the machinery behind the world’s largest and most glamorous film festival.
Last year’s correspondent, Felisha Liu (W'09), revealed the tricky games we had to play to gain access to the much sought after red carpet gala screenings. These screenings all took place in the Grand Theatre Lumiere, right in the heart of the Palais de Festivals. There are normally two gala screenings a night, one around 7pm and another around 10:30pm, with the occasional midnight screenings reserved for genre films such as Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. We had to hold up signs and beg for sparkly invitations that would get us into these screenings, wearing our tuxedos and evening gowns, hoping a kind soul would come by and unload any extra tickets on us."
Click HERE to find out what Brian's new accreditation allowed him to do, what degree of "begging" he had to do this year ...and with which big celebrity he had a close encounter!
"This year, my new accreditation allows me to sign up for these invitations online, so I can avoid the begging as much as possible. Each badge holder is given a certain number of initial points, as well as a maximum amount of points that person is allowed to accumulate. He or she is also told how quickly his or her points refresh. The website then lists all the screenings available for that person. Nothing was more satisfying than entering the Palais and picking up my invitation for Jane Campion’s newest film, “Bright Star”, free of the hassle of begging. However, there are drawbacks. People with higher-level accreditation are allowed more screenings to choose from and at earlier times. For example, one of the most coveted screenings this festival is next Wednesday’s premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” starring Brad Pitt. For a low level badge like mine, that screening is already sold out. When this happens, I have to go back to begging like last year to get into some of the best screenings.
Speaking of Brad Pitt, I was window-shopping down the Croisette, the main boulevard in Cannes, and I noticed a small crowd of people outside of an upscale store. This reminded me of a similar scene last year, when a crowd mobbed the Gucci store because Sean Combs was shopping inside. I peered inside the window and couldn’t see anybody for about thirty seconds, before Brad Pitt walks right in front of me. He was checking out a very cool leather jacket. Suffice it to say, the next day, I went back to that store and found that very same jacket. Too bad it didn’t fit me.
Check back tomorrow to find out about the first film to open in Cannes and Brian's take on it!
Check out all of Brian's posts about this year's (2009) Cannes Film Festival
Check out last year's (2008) Penn in Cannes posts HERE