Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
The daily total of times I've been body slammed by someone or almost run over by a car are slowly decreasing as my days at Cannes increase. Being at Cannes takes some adjusting, but I now feel like I can flaunt my knowledge of all things Cannes. I've learned a lot about this festival since I've arrived. I've finally learned the complicated class system at Cannes that is exhibited through badges. It begins with a Cinephile pass, then Festival, then Marché and on to the highly coveted Press badges. Of those the best is the white press badge that allows access to private screenings and tickets to every premiere. I would like to retract my statement about Cannes being all about having a good time. The business that happens at this festival is what keeps it around. The market in the lower level of the Palais where companies buy and sell films is always busy, and over the years several films have been famously sold over dinner or lunch in one of the fabulous hotel restaurants.
May 21--I am my Grandmother's dinner date on a friend's yacht. We walk down to the pier where all of the fancy yachts are docked. There are plastic signs hung from the front of the boats with the names of the company renting them for the night. Women are strutting up and down this pier like it's a runway! They're dressed up in expensive dresses and even more expensive heels, which aren't even allowed on the boats. Most of the boats are rented out for company parties, but others are privately owned by billionaires like Roberto Cavalli who can afford the hefty price tag of a docking space.
Since the boat we're going to isn't docked, we're meeting a smaller speed boat to take us out to it. It's pretty windy outside and we're having trouble finding the small boat at the pier. After 20 minutes of walking around and asking if anyone's name is Luke (the boat operator) we finally find him. Apparently we're at the wrong pier for a pick-up, but Luke is willing to pull my grandma along this 7' X 5' floating platform into his small speed boat.
My grandma is hilariously skeptical. She thinks about it for a few minutes, while the platform is sliding and bobbing around on top of the intense waves. "I have to walk across that?" she says. Luke tries to be persuasive, but even he's not buying that his manouever is completely safe. With a "I'm not falling into that water and drowning!" my grandma decides to meet Luke on the other end of the pier where there's a proper docking area.
The Australian film director Paul Cox, spoke to a group of students earlier this afternoon. While I 've met Cox a few times before at the annual Ebertfest in Champaign-Urbana, IL, I'd never heard him speak freely to a crowd and was interested in what would be said. Paul enters in casual clothes and walks to the seat in front of the class, unfolds a few pages of yellow papers full of scribbly handwriting and begins speaking in a soft, slow, accented voice.
The title of the speech is "Invent not Imitate," encouraging our generation to break the rules and push the limits. So at first, of course, I'm into it. Slowly, the speech turns from an encouraging nudge towards originality and prioritizing values, to a pretty full blown revolutionary anarchist speech. There is a pessimistic rant about the lack of genuineness and how many artists are "rubbish," specifically at this film festival. Cox rags on any one who even considers the nearby Monaco Grand Prix and car racing relevant or acceptable, and then stomps on organized religion, ex-president Bush, fashion and films like "Pulp Fiction." A student in the crowd asks Paul if there was anything he thought was worth doing, seeing or knowing about and beyond Cox's personal hero, Vincent Van Gogh and some rural Aboriginal tribes with which he'd spent time. It seemed he was not.
Tonight's premiere movie is Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," starring one of my favorite comedians Demetri Martin. Although I don't have a formal invitation to the red carpet premiere, I've decided to try my luck getting into the screening on different terms. Many companies give away extra tickets to the young people who stand outside the Palais with signs requesting them. Although it's not imperative that I see the movie at it's premiere, I think the experience will be fun whether or not I actually get a ticket.
Technically, I can see the movie tomorrow afternoon in a smaller theatre without this hassle. I just won't get to walk the red carpet, see Emile Hirsch (and Ang Lee), take pictures, dress up--and basically it won't be as good. Fingers crossed!
I GOT IN!
I arrived outside of the Palais all dressed up at 9 pm for the 10 o' clock showing of "Taking Woodstock." I made a sign using a sheet of paper from a legal pad and an ink pen, saying "Invitation to Taking Woodstock, SVP! ☺."
Friday, May 15--Today it rains, which changes everything. Yesterday the air was so European with cigarette smoke and hints of ocean musk. Today the air is damp, humid and rainy. A little sad. My first full day at Cannes! This afternoon the American Pavillion named their Conference Center in honor of grandfather. He has done a lot of Q and As and interviews there. There was tons of press, and Martin Scorsese was there to do the dedication. Everyone was excited and full of this nervous anxiety to do their jobs right at all costs. Afterwards in the Green Room, I had the honor of meeting the director of the festival, Thierry Frémaux. I also met some great friends of my grandfather's, the very French Pierre Rissient, who he just wrote about; the Australian director Paul Cox, Uma and Gerson da Cunha from India. These were only a few of the people touched by grandfather's genuine personality and devotion to the art of cinema.
Raven Evans, a Cannes first-timer, will be a sophomore at Pomona College this September.
Thursday, May 14--It might be assumed that a first entry, like this one, be a fairly formal introduction. As a student at a small liberal arts college, I now see formal introductions as an overrated formality. For example, the box to the right of this text will inform you that I am my parent's child, and that I am a teenage student.
My most recent experience with introductions in large quantities was the first two weeks on my college's campus. I spent this time shaking hands and answering the same three questions about myself over and over; 80% of the time I knew the answers to all the questions I intended to ask. Most likely, I recognized a face and name from doing some research on some social networking website, and considering they are attending one of the best liberal arts colleges in America, I'm sure they are doing some version of "great."