USA Student Ambassador Corrine reflects on her dream visit to Cannes at the exclusive Film Festival.
Living the dream...literally
Growing up as an aspiring film director, I’ve always wanted to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. I was the closest I have been to that dream (so far) a few months ago when I received a 3 days young cinephile pass. Although I didn’t have a film screened at Cannes (and the world knows I’ve tried and will continue to) I did make the most of my first time there.
So how did it happen?
Cannes doesn’t allow just anybody to walk into the festival area or purchase tickets to the screenings. The film festival is very exclusive, unfortunately. You need an accreditation to just get into the festival square and special invitations on top of that to watch world premieres or to dare walk down the red carpet. That’s why it was such a big deal for me to have received a pass like I did.
My VIP Pass
The Film Festival announced one month before the festival took place that they were holding a competition for young cinephiles (cinema fanatics like myself). All you had to do was submit a cover letter confessing your love for cinema and proof of your age. Less than a week before the festival ended, my inbox lit up on my phone and I received an email I never expected to see, congratulating me on my pass!
My pass was for the last 3 days of the exclusive Film Festival. I don’t think I slept much for the entire weekend because I was too eager to spend my time wisely by watching films all day. Because of the short notice, and the insane prices for Airbnb's in Cannes due to the time of year it was, I stayed at a hostel in Nice. Each day I took a short train journey into Cannes. From 8:45am, feature films premiered in the Grand Lumiere Theatre so I had to get there early. I was lucky enough to see world premieres like Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Rafiki, a film that was banned in its home country for featuring a lesbian love story. In between watching all the feature films, I spent time in the short film corner where I was able to watch short films which had been entered into the competition. This was particularly beneficial for me as I had just finalised my graduation film which is around 10 minutes long, similar to the films being shown. It was nice to see what kind of short films make it to Cannes, where I had always dreamt of being. I spent some time in the international village as well, visiting the American pavilion of course.
An experience never to forget
The most memorable experience was ultimately the closing ceremony. The red carpet was out, formal attire was required from the guests and as I stood outside the theatre wearing a long sapphire gown, watching the awards ceremony from a large screen, I knew how lucky I had been to be there. All the celebrities invited this year, including The Jury, walked down the carpet and into the theatre to see who had won each prize. It was a particularly great year for female directors at Cannes this year. The Jury was the festival’s first female-majority jury since 2014 which featured huge names such as Kristen Stewart, Cate Blanchett, and Ava DuVernay to name a few. Of course, several presenters had words to say in protest to this, not that this will have bothered them I'm sure! The coveted Palme D’Or is still an award no female director has ever won…at least yet (I still have time to enter and win it).
After the awards were given out, The Jury came back out while Sting and Shaggy played a set of songs on the theatre steps signifying that the closing screening was about to begin. People with passes began to push forward like we were all trying to get onto a crowded Edinburgh bus. I eventually (after a series of pushes and shoves) made it past the guards and onto the red carpet. I went up the steps and into the theatre to watch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. It was the perfect way to end the festival and my time in Cannes.
The show must go on, or in this case, reality and returning home
I had one more day in Nice before leaving for Edinburgh and I spent it entirely on the beach. Although I would usually feel sad about leaving the warmth of Cannes for a colder country such as Edinburgh, I was lucky it was the best week of weather we had seen for a while. Obviously, I couldn’t quite lie on the beach and get that much needed vitamin D like I did in Nice, but it was good to be back...and even better to brag about my time in Cannes!