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Culture

Faces of Cannes: Beyond the red carpet

Text by Jon FROSCH

Latest update : 2010-05-24

The red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival is a magnet for film's elite, but just beyond the reach of the video cameras and high-powered flashes are innumerous Cannes devotees who, in their own way, are also part of each year's big show.

For movie stars at the Cannes Film Festival, it's limousines, champagne, extravagant wardrobes, red carpet struts, and glittery late-night fetes. For journalists, it’s mostly short nights, tight deadlines, endless queues for screenings, and far too many sandwiches.

Somewhere in between, though, are the rest of the people that fill out the festival: those who are there to work, close a deal, or move a little closer to their dream.

France24.com asked a few of them to look back on this year’s edition.

Nadine de Barros Vice-President of Sales and Acquisitions, Voltage Pictures Los Angeles, USA

Franco-American De Barros comes to Cannes with a packed schedule of meetings in swanky hotel bars, on yachts, or in mansions in nearby Monaco -with film distributors from around the world. Her goal is to secure foreign financing for American projects in development that have no backing from the big Hollywood studios.

This year at the festival, one of her goals was to stir up European distributors' interest in The Whistleblower, a thriller starring Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci, and Vanessa Redgrave.

“People this year want big movies, they want high concept, they want event films. The market is so difficult that independent buyers want something that will resemble as much as possible a studio film. I tell screenwriters, directors, and actors that if they saw how we actually do business and how we talk about their movies, it would be really shocking and appalling for them. It sounds like we’re selling shoes.”

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Peggy Johnson Executive Manager and Programmer, The Loft Cinema Tucson, USA
Devout film buff Peggy Johnson runs the only art house movie theatre in the dusty desert state of Arizona. She comes to Cannes to see as many films as possible, returning home with a list of titles she hopes to snag if and when they arrive State-side. How does she attract the locals, who don’t necessarily know Michael Haneke from Michael Bay, to a line-up heavy on foreign and independent fare? Beer, pizza, and theme-friendly retrospectives, Johnson confesses.

Among films at Cannes this year that she hopes to show in Arizona are three works from the Un Certain Regard category: Romania’s Tuesday After Christmas, Les amours imaginaires (by young Franco-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan), and US indie Blue Valentine.

“We’re the people at the end of the food chain who show the films to the public. Cannes helps us frame our year. For example, last festival we ended up booking The White Ribbon, A Prophet, Antichrist. For me, the experience is to be somewhere where everybody is thinking and talking and eating and breathing film. It’s wonderful to be in a place where everyone shares my passion. Sometimes we'll book a film even though it has made no money whatsoever. Our mission is to bring great things to people. We can’t make them see them.”

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Laurent Guyon de Montlivault has worked as a barman at the swanky Grand Hotel bar on the Croisette for the last three years. He is there all year long, but the
Laurent Guyon de Montlivaullt Chief waiter, Le Grand Hotel bar Cannes, France
festival is the most exciting time. It’s where French actor Edouard Baer stops by for a late-night drink and tests out jokes on the staff, or Michael Douglas sits down for an afternoon coffee on the garden-side terrace.

De Montlivault was expecting a downturn in business compared to previous festivals because of the economic crisis, but he says the bar was as busy as ever this year; so busy that the long work days (the bar serves cocktails from 10am to 3am) go by quickly.

“Cannes is a big deal for us. Every year, more and more people come here, a lot of famous stars, and a lot of people who work behind the scenes in the film industry. The Grand Hotel is the meeting place at Cannes. Maybe it’s because we have a garden, and it’s a bit calmer and less touristy than the rest of the Croisette. It’s a great place for a coffee in the sun, or a cocktail before walking the red carpet, or a late-night drink after a screening. People come for the ambience, and to party.”

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Morgane Gauvin Actress Paris, France and Beirut, Lebanon

This actress works both in Paris and Beirut, starring mostly in theatre productions (many of which she has written herself). But she is eager to break into film, and she has spent her time at Cannes this year trying to add some names to her book of contacts.

Gauvin hopes that one director that she met in particular will be contacting her within the next month.

“The Cannes Film Festival is mythical. And it always will be. People criticise it because you have to dress up, but I think it's great that it's this whole production. The red carpet here is a symbol around the world, and I think we need to keep it that way. I walked the red carpet a few times this year wearing a long, fancy dress, and I was happy. It was magnificent. My ideal scenario is coming back to walk the red carpet, but this time as an actress in one of the films being shown in the festival.”

Date created : 2010-05-24

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