Film Scouts Diaries

2001 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Classic Geek Columns: A Scientist on the Riviera, Part 1

by Philipp Hoschka

Cannes, May 7, 2001

Having followed the Cannes Film Festival since 1995 from an Internet perspective, this year will be quite an interesting Festival for me. Will any of the ten or so dot-com companies that last year hawked their "virtual film markets" on the Croisette still be around? A quick check of the only one I remember (because they gave me a free T-Shirt, so that I could quickly get their name) showed that still seems to be alive (in addition to distributing T-Shirts, they also threw an open bar at the Majestic nearly every evening - I'm sure their investors won't allow that to happen again this year - too bad!).

The Internet took quite a while to take off during the Festival, and it was really only last year that there was a massive presence of dot-coms (and, of course, everybody was complaining about it). It seems pretty safe to predict that this year Cannes will be mostly dot-com-free. I still remember that party in 1996 where they had invited Jim Clarke, then the CEO of super-hot Netscape Inc., as guest-of-honor, and nobody at the Festival knew who he was or bothered to talk to him. Don't come back this year, Jim, or you risk a déja vu - only that this time, people won't talk to you because the film industry has figured out how to lose a lot of money in risky projects long before you did! (The profitability of the film industry as a whole is somewhere around the profitability of US government bonds, I hear).

Another interesting thing to look for is what mobile phone technology people are going to use this year. The Festival has always been a good place to find out what will be the trend in the year to come. I still remember in 1994 when suddenly everyone was walking the street with a mobile phone stuck to their ear, and 1999, when people suddenly seemed to mutter to themselves on the street, and only on second look you could see that they were actually on the phone using in-ear headset. The prediction for this year is that people will be using wireless Bluetooth headphones - although I hear they're pretty hard to get (a friend of mine just got one in Hong Kong, they seem unavailable in the US), but I guess that makes it even more attractive for the geek status-seekers at the Festival.

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