Last month we told you aboutBellaire filmmaker Gail Reaben
, whose documentaryBe Bop Babies
had been selected for the Cannes Film Festival. She shares part of her travel diary below. --
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It was Day Seven of the Cannes Film Festival and I was starting to think that my world was only that of famous actors and directors. I'd been there since the first hour of the first day. There were 10,000 people at this festival and all of those were members of the film industry, as that's the only way you could attend. Everything was huge. One of the theaters, the Grand Lumiere, where the red carpet premieres take place, holds 2,000 people! You know that it's for real film people as all the walls inside are totally black so no light whatsoever leaks anywhere . . . the only light comes from the images of the screen. If you're late, forget it, your eyes never adjust and you can't see a single seat.
The festival complex itself, called the Palais des Festivals, was close to a mile long and right on the Mediterranean -- it was exquisite. There were about 40 screening areas and theaters with films going on simultaneously from 8:00 am until midnight. Most of the schedules were in French and it was daunting to figure it all out. The complex also included the big mamma Yacht Dock were many of the stars were staying.
I was getting used to walking several miles every day through all the buildings and corridors, passing people I'd only seen in the movies or on television. It was crowded and we all shuffled along to get to the next screening or a meeting. A shoulder almost brushed mine . . . I looked up I saw it was Bono, sans his famous glasses. Guess he figured he'd be incognito without them. A little later that day, Spielberg walked right past me. Everyone was cool and didn't bother them, not even an autograph. At one screening, I was sitting on an aisle seat when Jane Fonda walked by my seat.
One afternoon, I saw a small group of people waiting at the bottom of the stairs on the back side of the festival buildings -- where there were more huge screening areas. I noticed there were several black cars lined up on the right. On the dashboard of each of them, there was a piece of paper that said, "Ocean's 13". Great, I thought! I'm going over to those group of people as I knew the cast were all in a press conference around that time. I'd been hoping I'd get to see Clooney and Pitt.
Pretty soon, here comes George, Brad, Andy and the rest of the cast down the steps. Our little group started aiming their cameras. I'd left mine back at the hotel that day so, without even thinking, I whipped out a piece of paper and Clooney and Garcia walked right over to me and signed it. After George wrote his name, he looked around for others to sign, like, "Is that all?". I knew I probably should have played it cool and not asked for it but I couldn't resist. The woman next to me (whose husband is in business with George Lucas) was glad I did as the actors came over to us and she got a close up picture. Otherwise, they would have just walked to the waiting cars.
Day Eight was just as wonderful. One of my new friends from the festival was a young filmmaker, Andrew Shemin, an American living in Paris. He'd heard that Michel Moore had just finished his big press conference (where only the press was allowed) and was heading over to the American Pavilion for another press conference where we could attend, so we rushed over. Each country had it's own pavilion on the beach that was a meeting area/business center plus food from your country.I was anxious to see Michael as I'd just seen the premiere of Sicko -- his best yet. I took off my shoes and walked out on the beach to see he and Harvey Weinstein, Producer of the film, and a television crew setting up lights and camera for the interview. Harvey is the one the actors always thank at the Academy Awards.
After taking several shots, we walked away as the crews continued to set up. When I saw that filming had started, I walked back over to watch. About that time, a security guard told me to move back so I'd be out of camera range. Barefooted, I hobbled off. Little did I know, until Andrew sent me a YouTube link, that I'm in the background of that interview, for a few seconds, less than a minute into it. When you see a blurry red-head, that's me.
There were four more, glorious exciting days ahead of this 12-day extravaganza. . . at every major screening, before the film came on, a huge logo would appear, filling a several story screen . . . “Festival des Cannes” . . . along with music that sounded like fairy dust. I never got over feeling like I must have wished myself there.