Touching down at Nice airport, the atmosphere was difficult to define. What was immediately apparent was the fact that I was entirely surrounded by film people. You needn’t speak to anyone to know it, just looking at them is a giveaway – film folk have a ‘look’. This was both comforting and intimidating to me, and I began to wonder whether I had ‘the look’ too. Because of course, I was off to Cannes Film Festival with the rest of them, a journalist lucky enough to have bagged one of the coveted press badges. My first time at the festival, the excitement (and nerves) were well and truly building as we waited for our transport into the city. Yet others were old hands, almost bored as they exchanged ‘see you down there’s and commented on the previous year’s weather.
We were a funny bunch, a mix of press and actors and producers. But as the coach arrived and everyone rushed to get their bags on, it was somewhat reassuring to know that all of us, new and old, still shared some common ground: a sense of utter chaos. You are defined by the badge around your neck; there’s a clear pecking order: lowly yellow’s (like me) are at the bottom of the press pack. We have access to everything, but are of lowest priority, so will have to queue if a screening or press conference is in high demand. Blue’s fare a bit better, but they’re nothing compared to the pink’s. A pink never has to wait, having the privilege of turning up minutes before a film is due to start and knowing they’ll be granted access, no matter how many others are trying to get in. But even these aren’t above animalistic behaviour. On the contrary, I witnessed one lady fall into and knock over a large plant in her desperation to get into the Great Gatsby press conference. Nice to know that Leo makes even the best of us bid farewell to our senses.
Putting a (literal) dampener on the festival was the fairly consistent rain, torrential at times, meaning that an umbrella was the must-have accessory on the Riviera. It was also clear that without a great deal of planning, the festival experience could easily fly by without fulfilling your expectations. There’s just too much going on, and you simply can’t see or do everything. Prioritising is key, and that’s the most important thing I’ll take and store away for future years.
I’ll close with two unrelated things I deem worth mentioning about my Cannes experience:
1. I partied with Paris Hilton (it was a strange night)
2. Even at the world’s most prestigious festival, in a room full of journalists, people are still incapable of turning their phones off during a film.