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Cinema Rivierité

When it comes to the movies, those who Cannes do.

Jun 14, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 37 • By SARA LODGE
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“Let’s go to Belgium,” I suggested to my friends after the back-slapping and hand-wringing was over, “they have free beer there.” Luckily, Belgium (at least the Belgian Film Council tent) was only five minutes’ walk away. Journalists at Cannes spend mush of their daze traveling from news to booze, which is tactfully distributed by those countries and companies that seek media coverage. So we traveled to Belgium, whence we could see another party, across the picket fence, in Bulgaria. After a brief tour of Europe, we ended up on the terrace of the Grand Hotel, where hundreds of people in evening dress who hadn’t managed to gatecrash their party of choice, knocked back 15-euro gin and tonics and sat on plastic sofas under the stars plotting their next mov(i)e. 

Cannes isn’t what it was. Many people felt 2010 was a lackluster festival. A sixtysomething producer wearing a great deal of make-up was wistful: “In the old days, bands like The Pogues came to Cannes just to party. People let their hair down. What happened in Cannes, stayed in Cannes. Now what happens in Cannes goes on Facebook.” Back then, you could see Robert De Niro each morning, collecting croissants from his favorite boulangerie. Back then, when the pornography festival and the film festival occurred simultaneously, topless models frolicked on the beach. Those were days of low security and high rollers. 

Now Cannes is cannier. Money comes here, but it sticks close and is heavily guarded. Getting it to meet your project is hard. For the aspiring writer-directors who proliferate here, the odds against getting a film funded make the life of the lemming seem comparatively secure. Yet each year, by a miracle of nature, new lemmings and new films emerge. 

“I don’t want to be rich,” one of my friends said with beer-flavored earnestness. “I just want to make movies!” I raised my glass to the moon and made a generous cinematic wish, as generations of Cannesistas have done before me.

“You will,” I murmured, “you will.”

Sara Lodge, a senior lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews, is the author, most recently, of Thomas Hood and Nineteenth-Century Poetry: Work, Play, and Politics.

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