France the French way


The Cannes Film Festival: a Cinematic Pilgrimage

Posted: 2011-05-20

A fortnight ago the French town of Cannes rolled out the red carpet for its sixty-fourth annual international film festival.

Aaaah…. The world had once again been gifted with the chef-d’oeuvre of all cultural events. In this little slice of the French Riviera you’ve got everything; the sea, the sun, the sand, and stars which certainly shine brightly. (Especially Robert de Niro, what a legend. And Jude Law. Although I still haven’t quite forgiven him for the whole nanny fiasco!)

In the midst of all the excitement, an aspiring young filmmaker (me) arrives for a crucial week of ‘networking opportunities.’ I was not disappointed. Cannes was everything I had always dreamed it would be – a true celebration of not just movies, but the art of collaborating with others to achieve something you are proud of. And what a perfect way to kick-start the festival with no other than Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris!

Fans go wild for the likes of Jude Law, Robert de Niro and Umu Thurman

Woody Allen is arguably the only living director who still manages to make one feature film per year – for those of you who are not ‘up’ with it in the film industry…that is HUGE. And he’s seventy-five! I don’t care whether you love him or hate him; Woody continues to make films that are celebrations of small snippets of our lives. When going to a Woody Allen film I don’t expect anything else but to be entertained; none of this pretentious arty stuff, just pure cinematic magic. Midnight in Paris, in all its frothy sweetness, is a film about you and me in the search for inspiration and love in our lives, and in this case, the film appropriately finds it on the banks of the Seine River. (Dreamy sigh.) Even the red carpet of this new Allen flick was a celebration! The film’s stars Owen Wilson (and his nose), Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen and the ridiculously glorious Rachel McAdams were welcomed onto the red carpet to a jazzed-up version of Edith Piaf’s classic ‘La Vie en Rose,’ followed closely by Cole Porter’s croony ‘You Mean Something to Me’ which is impeccably integrated into the film. (Moment of reflection: Cole Porter, what a genius….)

I don’t know whether it was the horrific blisters burning holes through my heels or my new dose of sunburn, but I started to get all…emotional watching this all. I kid you not. Here I was, a mere spectator on the side-line watching cinema history unfold, watching my idols celebrate their achievements, and reflecting on the joys and hardships of film-making. It was the music, the red carpet, the Marchesa gowns, the flashes of the paparazzi; the whole atmosphere which said, “We’re here as one.” And in our thousands, we were. I know that sounds a bit lame and everything, but I felt like I was part of a film-making pilgrimage, and felt utterly revived by it.

Paparazzi camp out for hours to get the perfect glimpse of their camera candy!

Of course, Woody and his team weren’t the only ones to hit the sacred red carpet. The following night Cannes presented another true celebration of cinema – the premiere of the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. During the beats of Hans Zimmer’s iconic soundtrack, not only did we get to see Captain Jack Sparrow in person, but also the breath-takingly beautiful Penélope Cruz (in the most stunning, yet preposterously unpractical dress) and the not-so-beautiful, but equally talented, Geoffrey Rush. Although, not everyone was as ecstatic as I was to be seeing these cinematic icons in real-life… two old ladies interviewed for the news that night said they were disappointed they didn’t get to see Angela Jolie and Brad Petit. (Close….!)

As the countdown to Sunday’s grand prize-giving ceremony begins, it almost seems immaterial to name a winner. You see, this festival is about more than just winning and losing, it’s a festival which quite simply honors and appreciates true dedication to the art of film-making. From the animated Kung Fu Panda 2 to Terence Malick’s much-awaited The Tree of Life (starring Brad Petit himself), there’s something there for everyone at Cannes – it’s just waiting to be discovered!

The 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival runs from 11 – 22 May 2011.

For more information visit its official website.

Check out the latest red carpet arrivals .

Similarly, if you fancy a laugh, check out the comical summary of each day’s events at Le Petit Journal (of which most of it is in French sorry…)


Everything is ready and waiting for the beautiful people to arrive - off La Croisette.