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Cannes Diaries: Surviving the opening ceremony

  • Published at 05:40 pm May 15th, 2019
Cannes Film Festival-AFP
(From L) Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny, director Jim Jarmusch, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton and Sara Driver pose during a photocall for the film 'The Dead Don't Die'at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2019 AFP

The Cannes Film Festival will continue till May 25

As a first timer at this enormous film festival at Cannes, I somehow survived the first day almost unscathed. Most people here speak only French and anyone will tell you that it’s not the easiest festival to navigate through. I haven’t yet fully grasped the extent of privileges I am supposed to get as a FIPRESCI jury, but the little of it that I’ve come to know so far has been pretty sweet. 

The opening ceremony is off limits:

The first thing anyone back home asks me about Cannes is- how many celebrities did you meet so far? To them, I just want to say, being a jury member is more about judging the celebs on their performances than waiting in line to catch a glimpse. 

Wednesday was the opening ceremony with a gathering of celebrities unparalleled by any other film festival in the world. However, the celebrities are so huge in numbers that even the parallel jury members don’t receive invitations to ceremony. 

The red carpet was only open to a handful of media outlets. Even the pavement across the street from the Palais was reserved for Reuters, AFP and other heavyweights of that sort. The streets and ladders had name tags on them specifying which media and which reporter can stand where. I really had no hope of getting a clear shot of the biggest stars. 

However, when these heavyweights were done taking pictures and a few celebrities like Tilda Swinton and Selena Gomez and the rest of the cast and crew of the opening film “The Dead Don’t Die” were late to arrive, I had my moment up on the Reuters ladder snapping away. 

Pink with a dot:

My jury duty comes with its obvious perks. The badges at the Cannes Film Festival are colour coded and there’s a strict hierarchy of access and priorities that come with each colour. As a FIPRESCI jury, I had the second most privileged colour code- pink with a dot. 

The only colour more privileged than this was the white  one (talk about white privilege). They say in Cannes, if you have the white badge, you’re basically God. But among the mortals, I was well taken care of. 

I didn’t have to wait in any line for any screening. Watching the other accredited press and film professionals wait well over an hour to get into the theatres made me dread of the times in the future editions of Cannes Film Festival when I won’t be a jury and will have to join them in that awful ordeal. 

Party invitations:

One of the other perks of being in the critics jury are the party invitations at fancy hotels and restaurants on the beach that are so intimidating that we wouldn’t normally walk into one even if we could afford it. Every day since I arrived in Cannes, there has been at least one exclusive lunch or dinner party for the jury at one of those locations. 

I’ll try to paint a picture of how intimidating these places can be at the risk of sounding like a total “mofu.” This afternoon, we had a lunch invitation at La Plage Nespresso, on the beach, across the street from the Carlton. I made the mistake of having the “big plate” before the “small plate” at the buffet, which my French colleague so kindly pointed out. I asked for a fish beside the lamb on my big plate when the waiter raised his eyebrows saying: “On the same plate?” At that point, my mofu cover was completely blown. 

The Cannes Film Festival will continue till May 25 and Dhaka Tribune Showtime will keep you posted from time to time with articles, photos and videos. 

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