Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Cannes do

This week I would like to give you my personal eye-witness, insider, behind-the-scenes look at every film and every event that happened at the recently concluded Cannes International Film Festival.

Yes, that is what I would like to do. But, of course, I won’t be doing that. Because for, let’s see, how many years now has it been that I have not been able to attend the Cannes film festival for one reason or another, oh yes, that’s right, each and every single year without any exception whatsoever of my entire wretched excuse of a life. And this year was no exception.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Big deal. Dream on. Who gets to go to Cannes anyway? Where is Cannes anyway? Why would you want to go there? And how do you pronounce it correctly? Why am I asking all these rhetorical questions? More disturbingly, how does he know I am asking all these rhetorical questions? Stop it right now!

Okay, I’ll stop. I think that pretty much everybody knows that Cannes is a city on the beautiful Mediterranean coast of France (a.ka. la Côte d’Azur, the French Riviera) that every May hosts the best-known and most prestigious film festival in the entire world. Even people who don’t even know how to pronounce “Cannes” (it’s pronounced “con” [actually, more like “can”]) talk about Cannes. (People in my family tend to call it “cans,” as in “See how many beer cans I’ve managed to pile up on the window sill.”) It’s been my dream for years to attend the film festival in Cannes.

I actually was in Cannes once. Well, I passed through anyway on the train. It was during my starving student days in the early 1970s, and I was heading back to Bordeaux from Italy. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time (or money) to get off the train and wander around the place. But even back then I knew this was holy ground.

The funny thing is that The Missus, who hasn’t the slightest interest in films or film festival (is this a match made in heaven or what?), dreams of going to Cannes as well. Unlike my dream, I don’t think her dream involves seeing some of the most talked-about and provocative films in the world before anyone else gets a chance to see them and hobnobbing with European and American directors and film stars in the boîtes until the early hours of the morning, perhaps amusing Luc Besson and Bruce Willis with some of my bons mots as we sip cognac. I think her dream has more to do with lying on a pristine beach, serene in the knowledge that I am totally wrapped up in seeing movies and won’t be bothering her for the entire duration of our stay. But the important point is that we both dream of going to Cannes.

We actually almost went to Cannes three years ago. We tentatively planned to make it a honeymoon journey after our Irish wedding reception. But post-reception visits by relatives and other matters made that plan problematic. The following year found us in Seattle, where The Missus inexplicably agreed to get a full-series pass to the Seattle International Film Festival and where to my amazement she saw almost as many films as I did. The next year found us in Seattle again, and travel to France was definitely out of the question since she was due to give birth at the end of May. (She delivered on June 11, the final day of the Seattle film festival.)

Now with The Little Princess on board, travel to France is still a bit problematic. But I am happy to report that I have picked up my pass for the 2001 Seattle film festival (attentive readers will have already noted my commentaries on advance press screenings) and will be attending that film festival more fully this year. Last year I saw a mere ten films, but that was a lot more than I expected to see, given The Little Princess’s due date. I definitely won’t be matching my previous record of 88 films, but I should see at least a couple dozen anyway. The problem with having a daughter born during the film festival, of course, is that I sort of really need to be home on her birthday, which means I’ll be missing several films on that one day alone. Ironically, the final day of the film fest this year falls on Father’s Day.

But the return to SIFF only partially makes up for the fact that this year, once again, I was not in Cannes. But I can still dream. One of these years, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, it will be myself at the Hôtel du Cap chatting up Catherine Deneuve about whether the jury gave the Palme d’Or to the right movie.

-S.L., 24 May 2001

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