Cannes Diary

Sunday, May 14

The Players

Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler—Co-Presidents of Killer Films

Brad Simpson—Head of Development for Killer Films

Laird Adamson—Killer’s Liaison with Foreign Distributors and Financiers

Brad and Laird have already arrived and set up a mini Killer office in the small apartment we are renting (for a ridiculous amount of money) off the Croisette. Pam and I arrive off a direct flight from New York and pause briefly to freshen up before heading to the Accreditation Office to retrieve our badges.

As we turn to walk to the Palais, a pink convertible filled with topless women promoting a film called Bad Guys cuts us off.

Walking up and down the Croisette is like running some surreal obstacle course. Motorbikes and cars weave past you as you push through the hordes of tourists who have come to star-gaze. Filmmakers from around the world promoting their film try to shove flyers in your hands as motorbikes whiz and weave around you. You pass old friends and future meetings as you walk up and down the street, lowering your head when you spot someone dangerous—a distributor you fought with, a financier who dropped the ball on a project, or a filmmaker whose script you passed on.

Cannes Note 1: Keep watching the ground, as France does not seem to have pooper-scooper laws.

Most people have a romantic image of the Festival: voluptuously beautiful movie stars in glamorous outfits striding a red carpet against a backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. The reality is much grittier. Above all, Cannes is a market filled with exhausted, red-faced producers, agents, filmmakers, and distributors pushing through the hordes of tourists desperately trying to get to their next screening or meeting. Pitching, watching, meeting, buying, begging, stalking. You talk to people who are constantly looking over your shoulder, just in case there is someone better to talk to.

The facades of the grand hotels on the Croisette are invisible, covered in banners and scaffolding that announce straight-to-video movies being shot. So a hotel like The Majestic, one of the nicest on the water, is covered in signs for Spiders 3, Point Doom, Skeletons in the Closet, and The Heart of the Warrior

As we push past someone wearing a sandwich billboard advertising another grade Z film,  Pam asks me how much Killer would have to pay me to walk up and down the Croisette wearing a billboard and handing out flyers. I say $5,000. Brad and Laird say they’ll start raising the money.

After getting our accreditation, we stop by the Film Four offices to pick up our tickets for their lunch, which starts in 30 minutes. This lunch, which takes place every year on the roof of the Noga Hilton, is always a treat, filled with British filmmakers and producers with whom we have close relationships. At the office, we are told that even though we were invited, it is too late to pick up our tickets—the list is closed, complet—and we will not be able to attend.

This makes us all the more determined to get in. 

Cannes Note 2: The only parties worth going to are the ones you are told you cannot get into.

We walk back towards the Noga and, as we enter, have our first celebrity moment. A car in front is being mobbed by screaming young girls taking pictures. We push past, trying to act like we’re not looking (as we fancy ourselves to be nonplused by celebrity), but we notice one another straining to see who’s arriving. It’s little Haley Joel Osment! Brad, watching him wave, accidentally steps on a small poodle.

Cannes Note 3:  Keep watching the ground, as France has an inordinate number of small dogs on leashes.

We push past the very official-looking Frenchman in the lobby of the Hilton checking tickets and ride up to the roof of the Noga. One barrier down, one to go. Ah ha: The publicists working the door know us, like us, wouldn’t want to get on our bad side. Less of a hassle just to let us pass. We glide in without tickets. I sit down with Whit Stillman, the director, and check on his progress on a script he’s writing for Killer. Pam and Brad check out the mayonnaise buffet.

Cannes Note 4: Do not expect to have great food just because you are in the south of France. Every big lunch in Cannes is a buffet, and the main ingredient is mayonnaise.  Shrimp, cucumber, crab, pasta–all dripping in white grease, warming in the sun.

Our day today is pretty light: After lunch, we have two quick meetings and then rush off to an Independent Film Channel dinner at the Moulins de Mouger. Every year, the IFC (one of the principal investors in Boys Don’t Cry and a great supporter of indie film) throws a big dinner at the Moulins, which is a secluded restaurant in Mouger. An odd mix: Local cable operators from across the United States dressed in suits mix with a group of indie film types. The young star of Girlfight, Michelle Rodriguez, and PI director Darren Aronofsky drink champagne and talk to a guy who is in charge of satellite sales for Cablevision.

We skip out before dessert to meet Tim Blake-Nelson. From there we head to the Hotel du Cap for drinks and are in bed by 3. Setting our alarms for 8 a.m., we are ready for our first day of non-stop meetings.

Cannes Note 5: Five hours of sleep is a lot of sleep.

Tomorrow: A “typical day” of Cannes meetings.