The scene on the French Riviera

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A view of the yachts from the Palais in a Cannes. I took this photo a couple of years ago. But it always looks the same.
A view of the yachts from the Palais in a Cannes. I took this photo a couple of years ago. But it always looks the same.

A view of the yachts from the Palais in a Cannes. I took this photo a couple of years ago. But it always looks the same.

The yachts are coming to town!

Yep, it’s the Cannes Film Festival, which began Wednesday with beautiful weather, crowded beaches and blooming petunias all along the Rue d’Antibes.

The festival takes place along the shoreline of the Mediterranean, and it’s always beautiful. The streets are kept pristine during the festival, despite the large number of visitors, with nightly washings from crews.

In case you’re wondering, this part of the world doesn’t get tornadoes, unlike some places. (Sorry for the tornado warnings, Austin.)

But it does get plenty of sunshine and glorious breezes from the sea.

I always stay at Le Patio des Artistes, a Best Western behind the Carlton. And the staff here are wonderful, helping me through the inevitable mishaps. This year, the biggest snafu was a taxi driver leaving my main baggage curbside at the airport, much to my horror when I arrived at the hotel Tuesday night. But the staff here got on it, had the airport folks locate the bag, and arranged for a very nice cabbie to take me back and fetch the bag.

The festival itself was quite crowded Wednesday, and it looks to be getting bigger each year.

The main gathering place for Americans is at the American Pavilion, a seaside tent complex that hosts panel discussions, parties and has regular American coffee. (That’s very important. All of my Canadian friends join the American Pavilion for the coffee. The French coffee is good, but it’s an acquired taste.)

The screenings take place at the Palais, which is along the main boulevard, the Croisette. The Palais holds about a dozen theaters, but the big two are the Lumiere and the Debussy, which hold more than 1,000 moviegoers.

That’s where most of the action takes place. But the two big sidebars, Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight, take place in theaters adjoining hotels along the Croisette.

Many of the American bigwig industry types stay at the Majestic or the Carlton, where rooms go for way more than $1,000 per night. Naturally, journalists stay elsewhere.

The day usually begins for journalists at 8:30 a.m., when a competition film screens at the Lumiere. There’s a short break, and then journalists gather in a room for a press conference featuring the director and stars of that movie. Then it’s lunchtime, followed by another series of screenings. And the day ends with the screening of another competition film, usually at 7 p.m. Then folks have a late dinner and get ready for the next day.

Tonight’s late movie is Il Racconto dei Racconti from Italy’s Matteo Garrone. And Thursday morning will be devoted to “Mad Max,” followed by the press conference and a screening of “Saul Fia,” which is in competition, from director Laszlo Nemes.

It’s gonna be busy, folks, but it’ll be fun.

Cheers!


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