The day gets off to a quick start, urgency bordering on panic, to the clarion call of newspaper vendors on the sidewalks.
"Demandez Le Monde! Liberation! Libe Libe Libe! Humanite!"
Figuring out locations and scheduling logistics amidst swirling eddies of people continually navigating the same few squares, plazas, boulevards and beachfront within a mile radius of the Palais des Festivals.
Ducking through a maze of white barricades under the canny eye of the white-gloved French police imported from neighboring towns. (Don't ask them for directions to Le Petit Majestic).
Shuttling back and forth along the palm tree lined Croisette past conical white tents that house Belgian Cinema to France Telecomm to the American Pavilion, favored spot for checking e-mails.
Weaving through swarms of fast-trotting festival participants with a destination, and more casual strollers, seemingly without one.
Around the major access points, throngs of observing public and a barrage of tv cameramen and press protographers armed with huge telescopic lenses (up to 500 magnification). waiting to watch the ascent of the red steps. By evening, audience and working crews alike will have donned the de rigueur tuxedos and black ties.
Up and down the blue steps of Festival des Palais that screens Competition and Un certain Regard films (Directors Fortnight selections are at the Noga Hilton half a mile down the Croisette), the blue badge gets me to some splendid performances-- Adrien Brody as a sleazy activist in Ken Loach's "Bread and Roses", Renee Zelwegger in the title role in Niel LaBute's "Nurse Betty", and an all-Hollywood cast in Roderigo Garcia's "Things I know Just By Looking at Her". That's once I learn to show up half an hour early, even for press screenings.
Sky's anything but blue, squalls of rain frequent. Yesterday, thick cloudbanks over Nice airport delayed the Lufthansa landing and the connecting bus reached Cannes too late for opening festivities--"Vatel", directed by Roland Joffe and starring Depardieu as a chef who commits suicide when a special fish ordered for his piece de resistance fails to arrive.
But who wants to see a 17th century Louis XIV period drama directed by an Englishman? Certainly not the first person I meet--at Thomas Cooke buying a phone card. He's a co- director of the Sarajevo festival (we have a New York colleague in common) and we meet up again later eating good, very reasonably-priced artichoke pizza in the Vieux port section of Cannes. Obviously, sustenance in Cannes is going to be on the modest side--dearth of anything resembling a healthy snack).
So tonight, before I turn in to a small hotel (working stiffs and jury members only), just off rue Felix Faure, it's a quick stop at--heaven forbid--the Golden Arches, patronized by plenty of people in black tie who are tired of croquemonsieurs and not on expense account French restaurant dining, for a McSalad and green tea, and a quick scan of Film Francais, Ecran International, Screen International, let's see, what else ....
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