It’s Vulture’s first year at the Cannes Film Festival. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. If you want a good picture, bring your own stepladder.
The black-tie-wearing paparazzi are so serious here, they’ve even inspired the amateurs: Fans camp out outside the Grand Theatre Lumiere with tall stepladders to see over the crowd. (It’s doubtful this will catch on in New York.)
2. Everybody is a star, if only by accident.
There are so many stars from all over the world sashaying down the Croisette and digital film is so inexpensive that paparazzi are fairly indiscriminate now. Strike a pose, and a flash will pop.
3. The Petit Majestic is Grand Central Station.
The Hotel Majestic is the central, fancy-schmancy hotel that hosts the opening-night party. The Petit Majestic is a fantastic bar that, after the evening screenings, hosts an enormous crowd of (typically lower-rent) cinephiles. On an average night, several hundred film lovers spill out onto the streets: Canadian directors, Russian producers, Portuguese film-show hosts, and plenty more, meeting up in between parties.
4. The rich are immune to recession.
Many of the wealthiest stars and directors (and billionaire investors) stay a half-hour outside Cannes in the ludicrously beautiful Hotel du Cap in Antibes. Overlooking the bright blue waters and yachts the size of battleships, the recession seems whole planets away.
5. Everyone has a Jean-Claude Van Damme story.
When you do three or four films a year, you tend to get around. In J-CVD’s case, on a three-story yacht emblazoned with Romanesque gold fonts.
6. People really do drive Ferraris.
7. Actresses make bank from product endorsements.
One great thing about Cannes: You bump into the most specialized sorts of businesspeople. An executive who brokers cosmetics endorsements explained that actresses typically make no less than one million dollars annually from these deals. That number, he told us, can go up to $5 million or more, and rarely requires more than a photo shoot or two and a few personal appearances.
8. It’s easy to be a cheapskate.
Free espresso and Pellegrino in the press lounge; champers on the beach; amuse bouches at every party. No need for all those fantastic restaurants — particularly if you luck into lunch at one of the wealthier Middle Eastern pavilions.
9. The Shorts Corner rocks.
Every film festival should have one: A cul-de-sac of viewing cubicles with all the short films available on-demand, for cinéasts with a few minutes to spare between feature screenings. Genius.
10. The 8:30 a.m. screenings are painful — literally.
Nobody sleeps here. We have never seen audiences with such a ferocious collective hangover.