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Alexei Boulokhov is a St. Lawrence University student beginning his summer travels with an internship at the Cannes Film Festival. Alexei, who was born in Russia, also plans to spend the summer traveling through eastern Europe and visiting family in Russia before returning for his final year at St. Lawrence. He's been awarded a fellowship to work on a documentary video in Europe that will focus on gay teens. Todd Moe spoke with Alexei about his summer trek and the Cannes Film Festival. Listen to story. (10:02)
North Country Public Radio will follow Alexei throughout his travels and post his dispatches from Cannes and other points transatlantic below.
May 17, 2002: Arriving in Cannes
How many people can we fit in? The French love practical jokes and for the past 55 years every May they try to pack over half a million people in the narrow streets and tiny plazas of a small French Riviera resort town for ten days, but no one seems to mind, since that town is Cannes and the occasion is the Cannes Film Festival, the largest most glamorous film event in the world.
This year despite the bleak predictions and fear of security failures a record number of journalists, tourists, industry professionals, and of course celebrities showed up for the festival.
The preparations for the next festival start as soon as the current festival wraps up. People and companies book hotels, arrange transportation and reserve tables in prestigeous restaurants up to a four years in advance! But Cannes is a quiet and scenic place until just a few days before the opening night. The famous red carpet walk and the white tent pavillions along the Croisette are mounted only within 48 hours prior to the premiere gala.
This year the security concerns have been at a record high, but the French police, ministry of defense and even diplomatic intelligence have worked hard to secure the festival grounds. Only people with proper accreditation are allowed anywhere within shooting distance of the main festival venues.
Although there's been no direct threats to the American presence at the festival, the American consulate in Marseille advised the US citizens attending the festival to keep a low profile and stay away from McDonald's as MickeyDee's in town tops the list of places where most pick-pocketing, exchange fraud and other criminal schemes occur. Pick-pocketing is the most common crime reported in Cannes during the festival. The locals call Cannes the film and pick-pocketing capitol of the world. An estimated 500 professional pick-pocketers sneak around town during the festivities relieving people of their wallets. This year the Cote D'Azur police issued a special warning, because of the recent influx of highly trained pickpokets from Columbia and Mexico. What can I say, be it Hollywood or the criminal underworld, Cannes attracts only the elite!
The word of the street has it that the press is not happy with the jury of the festival. They call it the strangest selection of people in the history of Cannes. With David Lynch, the grand master of strangeness, it's only natural The choice of Sharon Stone as a jury member has raised most questions and eye brows. Despite her immense popularity with the French, they question her artistic expertise and downright intelligence when it comes to judging the showcase of the brightest films of the world. "Sharon is the weakest link" stickers are seen throughout the town.
© 2002 North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York 13617-1475