Today is 26th of May and it’s the last day of The 66th Cannes Film Festival, which means, for another two-three weeks the glamour will still be felt in the air in Cannes even after all the VIP yachts would breeze away and the press and paparazzi would finally rest to peace their cameras and dictaphones, or, for the iPhone’s pros – the audio/video recording apps, like the Audioboo.
There Is More To French Riviera, Then The Cannes Film Festival:
The South of France is a truly magic place, especially the towns of Provence and French Riviera like Cannes, St. Tropez, Antibes, and Nice. Each one of them has its own je ne sais quoi. While the majority of the people around the world know of South of France from Cannes, there are many beautiful towns around that would be a shame if overlooked, like Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon.
To my personal taste – and I’ve been to quite a lot of places in Europe – Cannes is overrated. As much as the locals would like to continue to relate to the town as they did for decades – as to a beach resort-like town – they do admit that it has drastically changed with the arrival of the film festival in 1946.
Cannes has become more expensive, more commercial, and unsafe. Just as I was writing this article, a friend of mine who works for a French TV and is attending the festival just complained that every time she comes to the festival, she and/or her crew get robbed. This time it was her iPhone.
Cannes became more crowded and busy and has been attracting thieves (mostly pocket pickers) due to the increased number of tourists who are attracted by the allure of the Cannes Film Festival and celebrities and the local riches who come to the festival to hang out with their friends-celebrities.
But, at the same time, it gives a lot of business to the locals – from catering to shopping, the businesses are thriving during the two weeks of the festival.
Over the years Cannes with all its attractions – the beach, the shopping, the yachting, etc. – has become a hot spot in the French Riviera. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the city has become the ‘star’ of the South of France, although there are many other gems in the region.
While you might have heard of the Cannes Film Festival, it is not the only world-renowned festival that takes place in Cannes. The Cannes Boat and Yacht Show and The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity also attract a great amount of people – participants and onlookers – from around the world. Adweek is one of the few American publications that talks a lot about the Cannes Lions festival because almost always the American advertising agencies and design shops take festivals top awards for the creativity.
Of course you can’t deny the fact that Cannes has the largest beach in the French Riviera. Most known for its picture-perfect port, Cannes boasts miles of sandy beaches from which visitors can look out onto the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Fishing boats and pleasure yachts float side by side, both contributing to the cultural and economic influence of the city. However, it’s Antibes, where one can see the million-dollar yachts up-close and personal. It might not be the town for entertainment, but it’s the ‘parking lot’ of the riches.
For those who would prefer the proximity to the sea and some culture, entertainment, diversity and local cuisine one should opt to make a few-hour trip across the Riviera from Cannes to Nice and spend more time in Nice. Definitely try Nice’s Bouillabaisse (French Seafood Stew) and Ratatouille – Nice is known for it. By the way, Nice is the second most popular French city after Paris and is the second biggest city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region after Marseille.
One can even count Monaco as ‘part’ of the South of France, because it’s only half an hour away from Nice by car and requires no ‘visa’ for the Americans and Europeans to enter. Hence, one can visit it as often as he/she visits the south of France.
If you ever decide to visit Cannes and/or the French Riviera, click here to learn how to enjoy it without the festival around.
However, despite the fact that there are more to the South of France than Cannes, thanks to the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes became the hottest, most glamorous, and most fashionable towns in the French Riviera, while for the locals, it’s still the same old resort town known for endless beaches and the close proximity to Monaco.
The “Scent” of The Cannes Film Festival:
And once again, every year in the month of May, Cannes becomes one fabulous, celebrity-full spot.
The last time I was in Cannes was in 2010 and I happened to be there right after the 64th Cannes Film Festival has wrapped up and they haven’t even yet removed all of the red carpet leading up to the festival’s main building that stretches out along the Boulevard de la Croisette, which day and night turns into one mega showbiz party.
The paparazzi are chasing the celebrities in bikini, the public chases the end of the lines to see the selected films and the members of the jury are glued to a cup of very expensive cappuccino, trying to stay awake after mixing up business with much happening pleasure, and everyone in between just trying to enjoy the overall vibe of the festival.
I’ve been a big fan of the Cannes Film Festival for years. Watching the festival is one of the best ways to find out about the foreign films, which usually wouldn’t make it to America earlier than six-eight months after they premier at the festival, so I take notes. Hence, I encourage you to do the same if you are interested in the foreign cinema.
Cannes Film Festival plays quite a big role not only in the discovery of the new talent but also in fostering the relationship between the new-coming actors and actresses and film directors that could potentially lead to a great, award-worthy collaboration between the parties.
Since I’m a huge fan of the foreign cinema, I’d like to share with you the list of the films that were in the competition at the 66th Cannes Film Festival:
- BEHIND THE CANDELABRA directed by Steven SODERBERGH
- BORGMAN directed by Alex VAN WARMERDAM
- GRIGRIS directed by Mahamat-Saleh HAROUN
- HELI directed by Amat ESCALANTE
- INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS directed by Ethan COEN, Joel COEN J
- EUNE & JOLIE (YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL) directed by François OZON
- JIMMY P. (PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN) directed by Arnaud DESPLECHIN
- LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (THE GREAT BEAUTY) directed by Paolo SORRENTINO
- LA VÉNUS À LA FOURRURE (VENUS IN FUR) directed by Roman POLANSKI
- LA VIE D’ADÈLE – CHAPITRE 1 & 2 (BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR) directed by Abdellatif KECHICHE
- LE PASSÉ (THE PAST) directed by Asghar FARHADI
- MICHAEL KOHLHAAS directed by Arnaud DES PALLIÈRES
- NEBRASKA directed by Alexander PAYNE
- ONLY GOD FORGIVES directed by Nicolas WINDING REFN
- ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE directed by Jim JARMUSCH
- SOSHITE CHICHI NI NARU (Like Father, Like Son) directed by KORE-EDA Hirokazu
- THE IMMIGRANT directed by James GRAY
- TIAN ZHU DING (A TOUCH OF SIN) directed by JIA Zhangke
- UN CHÂTEAU EN ITALIE (A CASTLE IN ITALY) directed by Valeria BRUNI TEDESCHI
- WARA NO TATE (Shield of Straw) directed by Takashi MIIKE
Of course, besides the foreign films, there are many American films that play a big role at the festival.
Almost every year an American film and/or an American actor/director opens the festival. Last year the festival opened with the US film Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson and closed with the late Claude Miller’s final film Thérèse Desqueyroux.
This year the festival opened with The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann, who, even though, is an Australian, his film cast usually consists mainly out of the Hollywood actors, like this year’s: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher and Carey Mulligan.
This year Steven Spielberg was the head of the jury for the main competition and New Zealand film director Jane Campion was the head of the jury for the Cinéfondation and Short Film sections, while the French actress Audrey Tautou hosted the opening and closing ceremonies. Many of the American film players were part of the jury.
Last year the official poster of the festival featured Marilyn Monroe, to mark the 50th anniversary of her death, and the Palme d’Or was awarded to Austrian director Michael Haneke for his film Amour, which had great reviews from the American film critics and which I, personally, chose not to watch due to its heavily emotional content. This year’s official poster featured Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
The festival will close with “Zulu”, directed by Jérôme Salle, starring Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker.
I also suggest you to add to your what-to-watch list the following five films:
- “The Bling Ring” by Sofia Coppola, the winner of Un Certain Regard award
- “Only Lovers Left” by Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston
- “Blue Is the Warmest Colour” by Abdellatif Kechiche – a steamy coming-of-age film, which introduces two young talented French actresses who we should keep an eye for: Léa Seydouxand Adèle Exarchopoulos (according to the early reviews, the film features ones of the most sensual sexual scenes ever to be done in the history of filmmaking)
- “The Immigrant” by James Gray with beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard and American actor Jeremy Renner
- “La vénus à la fourrure” (Venus In Furs) by Roman Polanski, with great French actors Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner. You might know Seigner from the currently playing in the USA film “In The House”, which I happened to catch in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (see below) two weeks ago and also from the 2007’s film “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, where both Mathieu Amalric – whose acting was brilliant in the film – and Seigner play together as well.
Personally, I will also add to my list the following five films:
- “Sarah Prefers to Run” by Chloé Robichaud with Jean-Sébastien Courchesne and Sophie Desmarais
- “Un château en Italie” (A castle in Italy) by Valéria Bruni Tedeschi with Louis Garrel (who you might remember from the provoking film “The Dreamers”)
- “Les salauds” (Bastards) with Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni (the daughter of the French actress Catherine Deneuve, also attended, and Marcello Mastroianni)
- “Inside Llewyn Davi” by brothers Coen, who haven’t done anything since “Gambit” (2012), but who are more known for their brilliant “No Country for Old Men” (2007) and Burn After Reading (2008), and
- “Blood Ties”, which also starrs Marion Cotillard
The Cannes Film Festival became the most prestigious European film festival, which the American and other International moviemakers consider to be very prestigious. It’s become almost a part of the Hollywood community as we often see the international actors being discovered in Cannes, who then start very actively make movies in Hollywood.
Take, for example, Marion Cottilard, Sophie Marceau, Carey Mulligan, Audrey Tautou, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ralph Fiennes, Isabella Rossellini, Cate Blanchet, or the latest European sensation – Christoph Waltz (known to the American audience as an Oscar’s winner for “Django Unchained”, “Inglourious Basterds”, and “Carnage”, and whose live TV broadcast in Cannes was interrupted by the shooting. Most of them were discovered by Hollywood at the Cannes Film Festival. Not even the festivals in Rome, Venice, Moscow and Berlin can come closer to the scale and excitement level of the film festival in Cannes.
Moreover, judging by the latest foreign films and the jury’s reviews, we should be also keeping a close eye on the following up-and-coming actors: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Kerry Bishé, Jean-Sébastien Courchesne and Chloé Robichaud, and Astrid Berges-Frisbey.
It’s no surprise, that there are other reasons, why the festival is so attractive to the celebrities and public.
The Cannes Film Festival takes place at a fabulous ‘resort like’ location, offering fabulous service and perfect, for the most part, weather – it’s not hot and it’s not cold – it’s just perfect.
Moreover, it allows for many European riches and celebrities to come to Cannes by yacht and park it right along the Croisette blvd, which many of them use as a place for private parties – like Roberto Cavalli and Johnnie Walker do. Many celebrities and other guests end up hopping between yacht parties all night.
My Festival’s Top 5 Must-To Check Out:
- Nicole Kidman: “In my heart I’m independent, a bit of a rebel, a non-conformist”. Click here.
- Ang Lee: “I would like my career to be forever a film school”. Click here.
- Daniel Auteuil, one of the today’s leading French actors, known to the American audience for the films “My Best Friend”, “The Valet”, “The Closet” and “Girl On The Bridge” – and one of my favorite French actors – click here.
- Christoph Waltz: “I like to put myself in danger in order to test my limits”. Click here.
- Each year the Festival de Cannes produces an entire range of souvenirs in collaboration with the creators of its visual identity. Discover the collection of this year’s festival here.
One more thing to keep in mind, when visiting Cannes during the Cannes Film Festival – keep a good eye on your belongings. Do not even trust the hotel rooms. Try to carry the absolute precious belongings with you and never leave them without sight.
How To Keep In Touch With The Festival:
If you’d want to keep in touch with the Cannes Film Festival and other film industry news, you can subscribe to the Cannes Film Festival newsletter (scroll down the page) and/or follow them via joining their social networks: Facebook and Twitter. You can also download a free iPhone/iPad app for the festival, click here, or you can also download the festivals app, created by The Hollywood Reporter.
For those who like foreign cinema and live in New York City, below I list a few places that I love to go to see foreign films at:
- Lincoln Plaza Cinemas
- Film Society Lincoln Center – Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
- Film Society Lincoln Center – Walter Reade Theatre
- Angelika Film Center
- Sunshine Cinema
- Quad Cinema
- Film Forum
Finita la commedia.