BY SUZANNE KELMAN
June 10, 2015
So I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 68th Cannes Film Festival last month to support the film “Our Father,” of which I am an associate producer. But my experience wasn’t quite what I had expected, or what I had seen on “E!”
First of all, Cannes—during the festival—is an experience that is difficult to put into words! “It’s like Miami on Crack,” one producer joked with me, which is an excellent way to describe the electric vibe that exudes from every pore of this famous Riviera town for ten days.
I arrived late on a Sunday night, expecting the world to be asleep, and drove straight into a street party—music, flashing lights and wall-to-wall people. As we crawled through the mayhem to my hotel that was, thankfully, a mile out of town, I felt like singing, “Put your shoes on Lucy—don’t you know you’re in the city.”
I have to admit, though, it didn’t take me long to get into the Cannes buzz; my days became a whirlwind of meeting people, cocktail parties, listening to celebrities, producers and directors talk about their films, more parties, and movies—lots and lots of movies. There are special movie editions of the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, movies on posters, movies on flags, movies on the beach and movies playing in theatres—all day and night. Meanwhile, millions of dollars are trading hands as movies are being bought and sold all around town.
And, of course, there are the red carpet events. To score a red carpet ticket was actually potluck. Every day, an email informed me if I’d managed to make the cut for the following day. It was on day three that I got the golden email and an invitation to the Lumiere Theatre to see Emily Blunt’s new film “Sicario” at the 3 p.m. showing.
I was overjoyed but, having had a few unfortunate experiences with sparkly Hollywood events in the past—like the time I left the bathroom at the Beverly Hills Film Festival with my ballgown caught in my Spanx—I really did not want a repeat of Kelman Klutz in France where everything is “oh, so chic!” So to prepare myself I went to study the carpet I had waited my whole life to walk.
The Red Carpet journey into the Lumiere Theatre is long—a vast walkway barricaded by security with hoards of photographers high on a lofty platform. And with forty-plus stairs to navigate, it’s a ballgown-and-heel-wearer’s nightmare. Film industry peeps are lined up in rows, and there is red carpet etiquette. No selfies, no bothering celebrities and the “heels rule” that caused a right-ruckus while I was there. Apparently, the carpet “police” had turned women away for wearing flat shoes at Cate Blanchett’s premiere the day before, (to which Emily Blunt had responded by saying “I think everyone should wear flats… to be honest.” She called it “very disappointing, obviously.”)
So heels it was. The day of the event I had meetings in the morning and later in the evening and, as my hotel was a mile out of town, I had no choice but to ride the bus that day with my ball gown over my arm and said heels in my hand. I couldn’t help wondering, as I gazed out the window, how Emily would be faring for her premiere. I didn’t see her on the bus, so I guessed she had it covered.
There were other problems to overcome, too. For instance, with no bathrooms at the American Pavilion—where I spent most of my day—I had to use the bathrooms in the Marche de Film, or “the Market” as we called it. This is a vast exhibition hall where film peeps buy and sell their film wares. So with my glam rags in hand I tottered across the car park, through a bag and security check, then up three flights of stairs to stand in line for the bathroom. Then, like some glitzy Superwoman, I went into the cubicle in regular clothes and came out looking like Sophia Loren in a ball gown and sparkly jewelry. Then back down all the stairs to get ready to join the line for the carpet. I must admit I was pretty nervous, so I popped into the Pavilion to say goodbye to my friends before I headed to the theatre.
Okay, I was ready for my moment! Or was I? As I set off, prepared for my red carpet walk, I was suddenly grabbed by two producers.
Oh no, was it another Spanx moment? Was my makeup smudged or bra strap showing? No, I was off to the red carpet with the coat hanger from my dress still in my hand! Ah, a Kelman Klassic—it will go down in my film industry history along with the Spanx hitch and the time I forgot my best friend’s name at an awards ceremony.
Well, I finally walked the carpet and I savored every moment. Unbelievably, I made it up all the stairs without a trip as I waved to adoring fans who seemed to think my name was Emily, for some odd reason. And as I sat in the Lumiere Theatre waiting for the movie to start, I thought about the stars who would float over from the grand hotel in their finery later. I was quite sure none of them would be sporting a coat hanger.
And as the lights went down and people cheered as the red velvet curtain was drawn to reveal the Cannes film festival logo, I was lost in the magic of story and thoughts of a girl who grew up in Birmingham, England and somehow had the good fortune to walk the red carpet in Cannes.
Suzanne Kelman is a screenwriter and author of “The Rejected Writers Book Club.” Her writing voice has been described as a perfect blend of Janet Evanovich and Debbie Macomber. Some of her accolades include best comedy feature screenplay at the 2011 LA International Film Festival, a Gold Award at the 2012 CA Film Awards and a Van Gogh Award at the 2012 Amsterdam Film Festival. She can also sing Puff the Magic Dragon backwards! You can learn more about her on imDb. Image at top by Kim Tinuviel
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