As a first-timer at the Cannes Film Festival who came to town to talk to the cast and director Wes Anderson about his Moonrise Kingdom, which opened the 65th annual fest this year, I had no idea what to expect no matter how much advice and information I got from people who’d been there before. So here are a few things I learned in the short time I was there.
1. Celeb sighting is a waaaay bigger deal than in the U.S., where the paparazzi might hound stars outside a premiere or Hollywood club hoping to spot a star but it doesn't become an all-out mob scene. The crush inside the fest’s opening night party on the beach in front of the Carlton Hotel around midnight when folks like Ewan McGregor, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzmann, Tim Roth, Berenice Bejo (who looked like she stumbled a bit down the stairs in her poofy red dress), and Tilda Swinton was breathtaking--literally--as paparazzi and fans swarmed to get a glimpse. On that note, Jason Schwartzmann is, like, the nicest and most down to earth guy ever, telling me the day after the event, "I don't trust anyone who isn't afraid of how aggressive Cannes can be”--a statement if there ever was one.
2. Forget wi-fi. It's not like the U.S., where you can get a signal pretty much anywhere. If you're outside along La Croisette (the main drag near the Palais), unless you stumble upon a random unsecured site or sit in a cafe someplace where they give you a pass code, no Internet access for you. Even hotel wi-fi is often spotty.
3. You might think a seaside town in the South of France, where the wealthiest in the world converge for million-dollar parties aboard multi-million-dollar yachts, would be as snooty as it gets. Sure, the people here are used to dealing with foreigners, but they don’t have to be nice about it. However, everyone I encountered was enormously helpful, and happy to help me get around or find my destination. Especially when it came to almost taking the wrong train back to the hotel.
4. Party access is strict. As in S-T-R-I-C-T. At the opening night event, they took your invite from you; once you were in there was no going out; and forget trying to talk your way in past security. Party crashers are personas non gratis. I watched one girl trying to schmooze her way in at the exit and the bouncer literally shoved her outside the metal railing and told her to get lost.
5. It’s a lot like San Diego Comic Con with all the crowds, but here they're wearing Chanel and Dior instead of Spider-man and Sailor Moon. On the jammed sidewalks you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with actress wannabes in high heels, families with strollers, indie types wearing credential badges and wealthy folks in black tie dress on their way to the evening's Chopard event. The Palais is the place to be, where press conferences, screenings and red carpet arrivals are held, and it's much like any other convention center—with five levels and lots going on, it's organized madness.
Inside the Palais. Marilyn is this year's official poster girl.
A look inside the international press room with a bunch of busy journalists.
An espresso bar is lined with celeb portraits: Catherine Deneuve, Marion Cotillard, Monica Bellucci, John Malkovich...
And then there was this guy.
More to come!