Cannes day 4: Iron Mike and Networking bliss   Leave a comment

(Note to my faithful readers.. I actually have an extra blog I wrote, but I messed up the order.. so I’m actually on day 5 of my Cannes blogging …but I can’t really go back and add the day before.. I apologize… but trust me, the information wasn’t juicy – Marcus )

 

Cannes day Four

 

I’m watching a series of red steps float on a massive screen in full 3d. To the backdrop of carefully crafted (and quite cinematic music) the steps eventually disappear, and a logo appears, the very distinctive logo of a Golden Palm, the symbol of the Cannes film festival.

I’m sitting in some pretty good seats, waiting for the premiere of a documentary that I accidentally went to see; Tyson. It is a new documentary on Mike Tyson’s life, narrated by the legend himself. I sit comfortably in my seat, wating for the movie to start, when a lithe Frenchman in a tuxedo comes on stage. He speaks rapidly, (I’m assuming he is talking about the director and the people who produced the film), then there is a lull in the crowd. Somewhere near the back, cameras flash rapidly and people stand up and gravitate to a shadowy section of the theatre. Standing there, barely visible and surrounded by bodyguards, is Mike Tyson himself. The years have been kind to the former heavy weight. His face looks the same but he looks at least fifty pounds heavier, a change artfully disguised by a large suit.

 

This is what you get at Cannes, a touch of the unexpected. An extra dose of things you didn’t think of even seeing. When I was sitting on the plane grumbling because my “breakfast” was a small collection of food that wouldn’t fill a shrew’s stomach, I had no idea I would be seeing Mike Tyson just a few days later. After the movie, I ran up to the stage to take some pictures of the man himself, as he humbly thanked everyone for coming out to see the film. As he exited the theatre, I stood nearby, directing two of my colleagues to snap him (with me in the frame) as he walked past. Both pictures were a bust. On my camera, I am a dark blur and Mike Tyson is nowhere to be seen. On my friends camera, Iron Mike is perfectly visible, but only my chin is in the frame.

 

Amazing.

 

Luckily, I took a picture of myself with Mike Tyson in the background when he was on stage, and we are both in the frame. Boo yah! The film was shown in one of the main theatres, The Debussy, which is good for laughs when you keep asking people:

“What’s the name of the theatre?”

 

Today the real action began. I’m in a position where I am forced to completely step out of my comfort zone. I’ve done this before—in social settings like bars, and sometimes the occasional school function. But this is something else. Each day there is a happy hour in the short film section of the Palais, and it’s a great place to network. As I walked in, with my plan of action fresh in my mind. I was surrounded by groups of people talking excitedly with one another. It was a buzz of French, German English, and several other languages. Everyone was pitching a film, talking about their short film in the festival, or trying to meet people for promotional purposes. It wasn’t chaos, but It wasn’t a walk in the park, even for a semi-socialite like myself. I see a blonde woman of medium height walking towards me, and I start some polite conversation. She’s a director from Australia, and this is her third time at Cannes.

“Are you going to any parties later tonight?” I ask.

“No, I’m tired of the party scene. “She says.

At this, I smirk. I haven’t been to one yet, but before the weekend is out, I’m sure I’ll have found my first Cannes party. We talk about her film for a little while, and we do small talk. She tells me about an Australian director who is coming to France the next day and doing a private screening of a film he directed. I’ll e-mail her and see if I can get an invite. My badge officially has me as a buyer of films, so I get more access than some of the regular patrons. I heard about this new Jean Claud Van Damme movie, but I have no idea how I’ll fandagle my way into that one.

 

After talking to Miss Australia, I mosy around, chit-chatting with a few people, but I’m really nervous. There are people from all over the globe here. People I’ve never interacted with. Everyone is pitching, everyone is busy. Everyone is  type-A. Me, I’m from an island that can fit into new York seven or eight times with dreams of being a screenwriter. I know I have the personality to mingle and schmooze, but sometimes breaking that first piece of ice can be really hard. I sit at a table for a moment and listen to a conversation between (who I think) are two more Aussies standing near the bar. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, because it helps you figure out who you can approach. If I hear people speaking French, I raise the red flag because I don’t speak French. If I hear English, at the very least I can walk up to them and say “Finally, a little of my own language in my day!”

I haven’t done that yet, because it really isnt’ that bad. I ran into some people after leaving the Short Film Corner waiting to watch Third Wave a cool Stephen Soderberg movie that is entered into the competition for Cannes. In the line, I talk my best Japanese with two Japanese nationals who are buyers for a small company called Shin Nippon films. They are looking for small art house films. I get a few cards, exchange some small talk and as we near the front of the line, find out that they won’t let people in who aren’t properly dressed. To show you how serious they were, a man with two women (who literally looked like Supermodels) were standing at the side of the line for a few minutes, but they weren’t let in either.

Welcome to Cannes baby.

Its at this point in time that we (myself and the people that were waiting in line for the movie) decide to get something to eat. We head into a little restaurant off the Rue de Antigues and I balk at the prices. Fourteen euros for a three course meal with names I can’t pronounce or translate. I pick out the word “vegetable” “cheese” and “fish”. But everything else is jibberish to me. I tell my friends to contact me on my phone if they can. I buy a disgustingly sweet Nutella crepes in a stand near the restaurant and make a sad attempt to run game on one of the attendants. It is impossible not to try after a while. Every ten feet are extremely attractive women. It is a phenomenon that I haven’t yet wrapped my head around. Today I saw about three packs of women who closely resembled Selma Hayek walking around. I’ve never seen this kind of thing, and I’m seriously not the kind of fellow who ogles women. But twice today, I’ve turned my head. (yes, yes, I know. )

I run into one of my restaurant mates (he left the restaurant as well after balking at the prices) and we do a little traipse. He laughs at a large cylindrical structure on the sidewalk. It is a bathroom that you pay a Euro to use.

I’ve observed a few interesting things thus far. Toilets don’t have flushing handles, they have little knobs on the top of the toilet you pull up vertically to flush. In our room the bathroom is separate from the toilet room (which makes hand washing interesting). There is the kissing thing, where men and women kiss each other when they greet. Thankfully I haven’t kissed anyone yet. All that cheek action creeps me out.

Back to reality.

My networking game has barely begun, but I’m already starting to feel the “Vibe” of the nightlife. You watch a cool movie, then you head out to some hotel lobbies or go with people to parties. Its talk, talk, talk. While I’m traipsing with my friend, I hear someone call to me. It’s a girl I haven’t seen in a few years I went to school with. (the world is really, REALLY small!). She seems to really know her way around Cannes, and that gives me hope. I haven’t really had any drinks yet, but here’s a cheers to the weekend and to going to my first party.

 

Salut!

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