Cannes bursts with tuxed-up popcorn talk and stars ascending over Disney castle boats. It’s the powerlunch of film festivals. Two weeks before kick-off, guerrilla Indian-road movie, Tantric Tourists, directed by up and coming uber-director, Alexander Snelling makes official selection for Cannes in a Van. Since shooting the film two and a half years ago, following a misguided Western guru and her ten tourist disciples, I’ve caught a few gilded ropes over the world that manufactures mind-holidays. In Cannes I hope to exchange sweat and tears into a sales and distribution deal. This is the tour diary of an independent film producer.
Big Movies: Fishtank & Brightstar
Big Party: Grey Goose, Soho House
Two sleepless weeks of preparing a new edit, ancilliary materials and sound c/o Slumdog people on a budget of air and smiles precede the Grey Goose, Soho House party at the Chateau de la Napoule. The courtyard holds a stretch bar and piles of lobster, piglet carcasses, lamb chops, and mountains of berries, cherries and mini-patisseries. My first meet is Quentin Tarantino beneath a tree. I give the groovy giant a flyer and he talks about his acting. I’m addicted, I want the Weinstein penthouses and Jackie Collins yacht. My last Cannes was ten years ago, Djing with Irvine Welsh, tripping La Croixette as a young starlet with Claire Manumission, blissfully unaware of the dark arts of entertainment shielding their cards as we giggled, falling-up red carpets.
Now looking for progress with Slack Alice Films’ slate, I meet 21st century fox, Malin Ackerman with Taylor Kitsch promoting gritty, political thriller The Bang Bang Club. Talent sells movies. I meet people I’d like to see the sun come up with, but with a town full of actors, on screen or otherwise, you gotta keep headstrong.
Big Movies: Un Prophete & Looking for Eric
My accreditation is not ready. Without the status pass, I am nothing, the same as gongoozlers clinging to red carpets, until meeting stylish outsiders, Andy, Janus, Sam and Sally from Cannes in a Van. Call lawyer, Lee Stone (Lee & Thompson) hoping to exchange a couple of D&G party tickets later that week for free legal on the movie, he’s woken on the beach and quickly recites a list of A-list places where distributors await. Later I hit the Majestic, best carpets of any hotel in Cannes. Scorsese sits at the bar. I meet Brits from 4DH Films celebrating next script by writer of The Wrestler, based on Nick Taussig’s Don Don book. I compare their fate to another producer whose $7m film went straight to DVD in the US. The Strokes play on a rooftop as I return to my car. The smell of garlic, cigars, jasmine, piss and promise fuse with the Med breeze that feeds us.
Big Movie: Antichrist
Big Parties: BBC Films/Film London, Akvinta/Hollywood Dominoes at House, Spandau Ballet at Nikki Beach.
Budget breakfast backfires, as I gouge finger to bone slicing yesterday’s baguette. Lesson: never eat yesterday’s bread. The surreal-o-meter jacks as I ride the hills in a stretch freaking limo courtesy of Yves Abitbol, MD of MyConcierge.fr who I met outside the hip 314 hotel. Lily Cole, David Furnish and an exclusive cohort play in a delightful villa. Dark dead palm trees, silhouetted by coiffured privets and wedding cake Louis XIVth rococo houses mirror in the swimming pool against the deep blue sky. I chat to Paris Hilton in the toilets, she’s cool, sharp, immaculate and funny, slagging off people who use her with her friend Deborah. I ask D to take our pic, ‘Yeah, I’ve been doing it since I was 15,’ she says.
At the Carlton (the US hotel with snow from Jim Carey’s Christmas Carol, a Transformer on the terrace and a GI Joe thing at the entrance) I take a seat with Val Kilmer’s bandmate, Mick Rossi. We pretend we’ve known each other for years to producers of theirwww.222themovie.com and David Blin, who used to own Harry’s Bar in Kingly Street in Soho.
‘Hey Mick, tell her, tell her, her eyes BITE!’ says his Scarface buddy. My indulgent ego.
Then a disturbing text from Andy, Cannes in a Van has been impounded.
Big Movie: Drag me to Hell
Big Parties: Scottish Screen, WMA, DogWoof/Co-operative Bank, and a zillion others.
By my Antibes pool I plot how to ensure screening success. Arranging, inviting, scheming. Alexander Snelling wants to come out, Cannes is the festival all directors dream of. He’s at Pinewood, also judging films for Apple and meeting people in Bollywood next week. Most importantly, he is completing the script for the next project, a thriller set in India’s ex-pat community. Attending is impossible.
Big Movie: Inglorious Basterds, Tantric Tourists
Big Parties: Cannes in a van & Outlines at Baoli for Inglorious Basterds
Screening at 10pm, slotted between Tarantino and the late night screening of Sam Raimi. Together with Andy and Sam from CIAV we meet Yves from MyConcierge.fr (my limo ally) at The Martinez Hotel to discuss how we may be able to avoid the van being interrupted.
I pin posters around the Palais, flyer all the journos in the press room, run up and down la Croixette all day pimping the movie. At 6pm I do a quick change outside my car and drive to the agreed spot on the Croixette to save space for the attention seeking van. The town is rammed.
A sense of relief passes as the film does its hilarious and deep magic to a large crowd of people. Grace Jones waves from her limo, and there are two deals on the table, with a couple of new leads.
Thursday & Le Weekend
Big Movies: FACE, A L’ORIGINE, DAS WEISSE BAND
Big Party: AmberLounge/AmberFashion & Martini Boat, Monaco
Cannes is officially dead, banners from balconies are packed up. Few engaging dinners and lunches with Syrian dodge drafting director, Michael Sibay, Emcee Productions, and, at the Orange Beach with Jerome Lapara-Dares, a Harvey Keitel looking guy with a family Theatre Antoine in Paris. He sells rights to European films in Hollywood. It’s such a French scene. Vincent Cassel, Francois Cleuzet, Carla Bruni’s stylist, Sarkozy’s tailor. And I meet badboy, Frederic Bejbider, who I look forward to interviewing.
If Cannes is surreal, Monaco is double. AmberFashion is a show around a pool, charity auction, dinner and disco for the Elton John Foundation. The Bransons are out, Lewis Hamilton arrives on a boat, the F1 drivers model, someone pays $145K for dinner with Elton and David. It’s Euroglitz on another level. The next night Alison Poltock of the East End Film Festival and I do a Thelma & Louise along the coast, then hang out on the £25m Martini boat, meeting millionaires, investors. It’s immense. We party till the sun comes up around pits of the Grand Prix race course, nearly missing flights home later. We have been in another world, one where I thought for a second, lawyers wouldn’t want to get paid.
THE ALTERNATIVE CANNES 2009 DIARY
We bring you indie film producer Kirsty Allison’s belated diary of industry minglings, yacht parties and popcorn talk