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How can you tell an industry professional from a regular festival goer, when everyone tries their hardest to be all glamourous at all times? In Cannes it becomes easier as the days go by. The only sure way I was able to figure out is... TAN or lack of it. People who work the festival don't have time to lay in the sun or even be outdoors. Dark screening rooms and smoky offices is were the real festivalers dwell. And as the audience crowd aquires a nice tan, the difference becomes more vivid almost by the hour. Now in my second week in Cannes, I have not set foot on the beach yet... by my looks you'd say I never left the North Country and got some early May snow, too!!! I'm very much looking forward to half a day off tomorrow so I can catch some Riviera sun. Now, watch it rain! :)
Which brings to the weather here. It is unpredictable. I never fully understood the whole "wait ten minutes and it'll change" joke until I got to Cannes. I'm not sure if it's the Mediterranean or the projection of the industry's ambiguities, but I'd hate to be the weatherman on a local news station! Mornings can easily be in lower 40s, with high 80s by midday, a three-minute thunderstorm in the afternoon and a brisk humid 50s by dark. An umbrella, a pair of sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and an extra t-shirt (in case you sweat too much) can be found, i bet, in everyone's hangbag or backpack. But it's not that bad, i guess, since at least snow is a definite no... :)
The actual Cannes Film Festival with the official selection and all its sidebars is merely a part of the larger Cannes event, which is the Cannes Film Marketwhere buyers and sellers from around the world come to trade completed films, works-in-progress and ideas. The market operates on the 24/7 schedule and everyday there are over 400 screenings scattered throughout town. So, there is a little something for everyone. you could litterally watch movies all day long. And some people do. :)
something's ought to be said about the food in Cannes, which is excellent anywhere you go. while the sky high pricing policy seems to apply to everything else during the festival, food remains the only cost optional thing. you can easily have a $200 per person lunch or grab a $4 hot sandwich known as Panini at the street stand next to the priciest restaurant... and the panini is guaranteed to fill you up! regular folks like myself prefer to eat on of those before heading for a meeting at a restaurant, so you'd eat up less of a bill there! :)
Since the entire downtown is blocked off for traffic during the two weeks of the festival, transportation often becomes a problemwhile the buses always run on schedule, the schedule is sparse. But those who want to get a taxi need to know a trickyou can't "catch/grab/hail a cab" here. Taxis are only available at designated taxi stands or have to be called in from hotels, stores and restaurants. The reason for this is increased security. In past years, there'd been registered complaints from people having "unpleasant" expriences with the taxis. With the new taxi policy, every ride is registered and secure, and it's not too expensive either. So taxi is second to walking as means of getting around town. Walking, though, might get you places faster! :)
A filmmaker proclaimed "dangerous" by the White House, Michael Moore of Roger and Me fame has done it again. His latest documentary Bowling for Columbine opened in Cannes to one of the longest standing ovations at this year's festival, rave reviews, and a whole lot of controversy. The first documentary in official competition in 46 years, the film boldly attacts gun control, NRA, Bush administration, news media, corporations, etc., trying to find what's at the core of the American national obsession with guns and violence. The strength of this powerful picture is in the way Michael Moore doesn't provide answers, but merely asks highly provocative questions. Below are several notes from his press conference in Cannes.
Q: "In the film you compare United States with its neighbor Canada as well as several other countries, which have as many guns but not as much crime. What's the secret to their safety?"
A: "It's in the cultural DNA of the people. While other societies chose to create social safety nets for its people, for those who are sick, or poor, or otherwise disadvantaged, safety nets where everyone watches out for everyone else, America created a society in which the "have-nots" are left to die. The American ethic of dealing with hardship is... What's wrong with you?! Pull yourself by the boot straps! Or fuck you! We don't watch out for each other, we watch each other beat each other up. Like, in some kind of stupid competition. Only the strong survive..."
Q: "What is the role of the government in this? How do you see it in the aftermath of September 11?"
A: "Well, first of all, I want everyone to understand that George Bush is NOT our president. People did not pick him. That election was a fraud.
And second of all, I think the politics of the Bush administration, its close ties to the NRA, even to the Bin Laden family are equal to state-sponsored terrorism. Did you know that on September 12, Bush ordered a private jet to fly around the country and pick up all the members of the Bin Laden family and escort them out of the US without questioning? I want to know why. In such cases, aren't you supposed to ask the relatives of the family when did they last saw the suspect, where could he be now? I want to know the answers. If almost all terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, how come we're bombing Afghanistan and call Saudi Arabia an ally? I'm not saying it's wrong, I just want an explaination. If the government knew about possibilities of September 11 beforehand how come it still happened?"
Q: "What is the role of the media in all this?"
A: "American journalists are the laziest people in the world! it's so much easier and safer to rehash same old story of suburban murder on the evening news than go out and ask real quesions. How come almost all the murders we get to see on television are done by African Americans or Hispanics while it's the whites who own most guns and use them most often? How come the crime rate keeps going down, but the crime reporting in the media is going up? Ithink it's because the government and the media are trying to create a culture of fear in America. When people are afraid, they will let the government do whatever it wants to feel "protected." The right wing is trying to instill fear in the American people, fear of the blacks, fear of the Muslims, fear of all people different from yourself, fear of each other, fear of the internal threat, of everything and everyone to push its agenda."
Q: "One of the most powerful moments and most profound documentary statements in the film happen during an almost accidental, informal interview between you and Charlston Heston, who let you into his house..."
A: "Yeah... I was shocked and excited by the serendipity of things like that during the filming. Heston's people repeatedly have been turning us down for the past two years. And then one day we just went up to his house and rang the bell... I mean, if I saw myself coming with the camera, I wouldn't let myself in! but he opened the door... At the end of the conversation I asked him if he thought he owed an apology to the families of students killed in Columbine shootings for coming to lead an NRA rally there just days after the tragedy... His answer was more than we could ever have expected to get!"
Michael Moore also shared an observation he made on the flight over to France:
"I was at the airport going through security and they were taking away people's nail clippers, those kids' scissors, and so on, but you could bring a lighter and matches on board. Now, FDA has dry ice on the list of prohibited items. Have I missed the dry ice terrorists incident? The guys who tried to hijack a plane with the popsicles? I think the only terrorist attempt after September 11 we all know of was a guy who tried to set his shoes on fire... But you can still bring lighters and matches, no problem. I found out that those were on the post-attack list of no-nos, but the tobacco industry "pursuaded" the policy makers otherwise. If you can't smoke on the plane, why would you need a lighter anyway? I just want to know more about that, you know... Corruption in the name of innocent lives lost in the tragedy is disgusting."
Michael Moore's highly controvercial documentary Bowling for Columbine was bought for US distribution last week in Cannes, but the theatrical release date has not yet been scheduled. However, there are already rumors of NRA campaigning against its release. The film is anticipated to receive some honors at the Sunday night ceremony. Michael Moore's recent book, The Stupid White Men is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.
© 2002 North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York 13617-1475