(Across the street from the Palais, as things get quiet on Sunday night at Cannes.)
Put a fork in it, the 59th Festival de Cannes is done. I have the “honor” of sitting inside the last film to unspool for the festival: an encore presentation of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. What a great movie. But, as it ended around midnight, the small group of us inside the Salle Bazin stepped outside of the Palais to find a quiet street, not many pedestrians and even fewer cars. The restaurants were half-empty or closed, and the giant red carpet was about to be dismantled.
I looked up at the big jumbotron screen oustide the Palais, and they were replaying highlights from the last two weeks of the red carpet, and it was kinda sentimental. Up on the screen were all kinds of filmmakers and movie stars, waving to cameras and ascending the steps into their premieres. Some would be met with applause (Pedro Almodovar, Cate Blanchett, John Cameron Mitchell), others would be met with apathy (Sofia Coppola, Ron Howard). All in all, the whole lot was part of this amazing two-week cinephile nirvana. This was my first Cannes, and it was nothing short of a religious experience. I would say Toronto is still my favorite festival to attend, but Cannes is such an adrenaline shot to the movie-loving heart, that it’s blinding. I saw films I loved, and some I didn’t. I saw old friends, and made some new ones. But, more than anything, for two weeks all of us got an up-close view of what makes the movie world tick. I learned so much about my own film-viewing habits, and it was so worth the time here.
I’ll be back in the States soon. I’m spending a couple of days in Nice, just trying to evaluate the trip and decompress before it’s back in to the office. With the rejuvenation that Cannes has provided me, I can’t wait to get back to Austin with an understanding of what we can do at SXSW. A big thanks to everyone I saw at Cannes for being so great, a big thanks to the amazing film festival staff at SXSW for holding down the fort (Jarod, Lya, Wendy, Jason… you rock), a big thanks to my family for helping orchestrate my unpredictable schedule, special thanks to John McHale and Chris Mattson for the lift home, and the biggest thanks to the patient and wonderful Jarren.
I saw about 15-20 films in Cannes over 12 days… here’s my own Top 7 of the ones I saw. Try to see them too, when you can:
2. The Host
3. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
5. Red Road
6. Pan’s Labyrinth