Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 10: Looking for Love in Cannes

by Richard Schwartz

CANNES, May 16 -- Fifty years of sun, sex and cinema...

Thus the name of the Variety retrospective book released to commemorate the golden anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, this had been largely untrue for the first week-and-a-half of this year's festival. The sun was nearly non-existent thanks to the virtually non-stop cloud cover. The sex ... well, Cannes may boast the most beautiful people on earth, but let's just say there's a reason they call it the Golden Palm award. And the cinema? With the difficulty in securing tickets for many festival showings, attendees were fortunate to catch more than two or three competition screenings.

But things finally began to turn over the past few days. Tickets started opening up for films and the thermometer shot up to 22 degrees centigrade (for all of us metrically illiterate, that's pretty damn warm) and sunny. Well, pardon my Meat Loaf, but two out of three 'aint bad.

So, with the sunlight streaming through the decaying wooden window panels of my one-star hotel this morning, I made a pledge. I would find a woman.

Ray-bans on, collar up, a dash of Hi-Karate. Head to that create-your-own-business-card machine near Rue d'Antibes to manufacture some new credentials: "Richard Schwartz. Director, New Talent Development, Hollywood Productions." There's gotta be some naive young starlet who will buy it.

In canvassing the Croisette I observed a lot of possibilities, but trigger-shyness prevented anything from materializing. First stop was the Majestic Terrace, a hotbed for power brokers and aspiring talent. I enjoyed a tiny $6 glass of warm soda and the complimentary dish of mixed nuts and green olives. I heard one producer tell another producer sitting at a nearby table that he thought yet another producer was "an idiot savant... minus the savant." Love those creative insults. And there were a couple supermodels having a summit by the pool, but they appeared none too approachable.

Next stop was the Palais, where I promptly headed down to the basement. For Cannes newcomers, this area can be quite enlightening. Here in the same building that houses the world's foremost film festival one can find a virtual smorgasbord of adult entertainment. Sunshine Entertainment, Wicked Pictures, etc. Posters advertising such films as "Anal Intruder 2" (and they said they'd never make a sequel!). A greasy-looking porn executive gesturing -- pinkie ring and all -- to a group of Korean businessmen meeting to buy foreign distribution rights for some lesbian action film. If I can find a Cannes woman anywhere, this is where she'd be, right?

I did meet Serenity, a porn star wearing a satin jacket embroidered with the words "World Champion Topless Dancer 1995." In fact, Serenity was a very nice, intelligent girl, but she wasn't the type of person I'd like to bring home to mom.

I was getting restless. A full day and no success yet. After talking my way into the Miramax party at Planet Hollywood, I instantly spotted some potential. I took 25 minutes deciding on the "approach" speech -- something about me being tight with Harvey Weinstein and wanting her for the next Tarantino pic -- and made my way across the dance floor. She lit a cigarette and winked and smiled ... I opened my mouth ... a perplexed look crossed her face. "Je ne parles pah englais" or something to that effect. I can't speak French, but I didn't have to wait to get home to my Thomas Cook translation guide to get the picture. All together now, 'the whiff...'

Guess I'll just have to be content with the sun and the cinema for the time being.

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