No Selfies? Yes I Cannes!

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Being a self confessed Francophile and an Entertainment Producer, it seemed scandalous that I had never been to the Cannes Film Festival.  So this year, in this year of personal development (and my WFTV Mentee Scheme), I packed my bags and ransacked my savings to spend 4 days sur La Croisette.

The Festival de Cannes is in its 72nd year and is still very much THE film festival of the year. Post Harvey Weinstein, from those I spoke to it certainly seemed was a much more subdued affair.  There were still the lavish parties and yachts that make the festival what it is; but many craved more substance - it was definitely more about vouching and discussing your ‘work’ than the ‘network’.

That said it was a great place to meet and mingle and not half as intimidating as I thought it would be.  By the beach it seems everyone has a real holiday vibe so open to chatting over a chilled glass of wine as opposed to scanning a room for the most important person there.  

Packing the flat shoes proved to be a great tip, as I didn’t appreciate how vast the festival layout was and indeed how many events were on across the festival.  Not only just screenings but the market at the Palais as well as the Pavilions from the various countries along the seafront. It was a hive of activity each day and even from a people watching point of view, a fantastic experience.

Of course you don’t come to Cannes without seeing a film or two and I was lucky enough to secure tickets to see two screenings of films in competition.  The first was ‘Les Filles Du Soleil’ (‘Girls of the Sun’) a French drama about a journalist sent to cover the liberation of Kurdish town from the Islamic State and the female warriors determined to liberate and seek revenge for the atrocities they previously endured.  Directed by Eva Husson, it is a gritty and powerful film which despite having many flaws, is held together by its leading lady, Golshifteh Farahani.

Conversely, I also saw the french comedy ‘Le Grand Bain’ (‘Sink or Swim’).  It is about a man suffering from depression who ventures to his local swimming pool as a way of escape, only to discover a band of unlikely brothers who take part in a synchronized swimming class.  Together they decide to enter into the World Championships. Far fetched? Well...yes but this film is heart and (no pun intended for a film about a swimming pool) much more depth to it. It’s not original in its concept but it is modern in its approach to male depression and gets the tone between melancholy and humour just right.   Add to that great casting and an awesome soundtrack, it is a real homage to classics such as ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘Flashdance’ and ‘The Full Monty’.

The Women in Film and Television hosted a soiree at the UK Pavillion on the Monday evening which was a chance for all the mentees in Cannes to get together and meet fellow members from the film and television industry.  The rain held off so we could enjoy drinks on the terrace on our last night in Cannes.

From the nightly premieres which make you feel like you are living inside your TV screen to the fanatics who line the street all day to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars - it was a fascinating experience, if somewhat bizarre at times.  A cocktail of Hollywood glamour with and Blackpool extravaganza with a twist of French lemon.

And of course I couldn’t leave without trying to be a little bit of a rule breaker...who said there were no selfies on the red carpet?