Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Cannes Diary #7: Returning to Paris

by Lisa Nesselson

May 25, 1998

On May 25, on board the TGV (high speed train) from Cannes to Paris, I have a sudden moment of irrational panic in which I "realize" my precious festival badge is no longer hanging around my neck - followed by relief at the realization that the Festival ended last night, ergo, I no longer need my badge. ("We don't need no stinkin' badges.")

For a Festival-goer, one's badge is as crucial as water in the Sahara, or mittens on Everest. A Harvard diploma or a U.S. passport may be dandy and useful in real life, but they won't impress the tuxedoed gents who filter every pretender to a seat in the Debussy or Lumiere auditoriums. You can be the Prince of Araby or the Queen of Sheeba. You could probably wave hundred dollar bills. They won't budge. Either you have a badge (or an invitation) or you don't. Period.

So here I am atavistically clutching at my neck to make sure my accreditation is still there, even though (unlike my college diploma and my passport) it's outlived its usefulness.

The world's great jewellers loan fine jewels to actresses during events like Cannes and the Oscars, but I think I'd rather have my plastic badge on its cotton cord than most of what Tiffany or Harry Winston might have to offer. I might catch the light with a ring of gemstones glinting on my chest, but then again, I might miss another kind of gem unspooling on screen. Afterall, I'd have to give back the diamonds, but nobody can take away my priceless memories of the maiden screenings of "Pulp Fiction" or "Naked" or "Crash" or "The Player." Or the residual spark of glee before less well known films I first discovered at Cannes.

In the end, this year's Fest was pleasant but not extraordinary. I was subjected to very few duds and nothing approaching a masterwork. In the year to come, gemstones will be carved and new films will be shot and edited. And plastic - in orange, yellow, blue, pink and white - will be harvested to produce 1999's crop of precious, priceless, pre-Millenium badges.

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