Waaaaay back in January of this year (yes, it’s nearly June already, where does time go, etc. etc.) I applied to attend Cannes Film Festival 2017 with cinephile accreditation. I was pretty certain I could be classified as a cinephile. Because I do watch a lot of films. Even black and white ones! Alas, I didn’t know if that would be enough. It’s so difficult to prove you’re a cinephile. Like, I should have kept videographic evidence of me sat at home watching films or something. And no one wants to see that.
But luckily for me, the stars aligned and I must have ticked all of the right boxes to be accepted back in March.
The constant organising and deciphering of conflicting information that would follow the next couple of months was incredibly overwhelming. The Cannes Film Festival 2017 website was not very helpful. And the random articles I found online from people claiming to be “in the know” was like reading hieroglyphics standing on my head with the odd russian phrase thrown in for a laugh. Basically, they assume anyone going to the festival has been before.
So this year’s festival was somewhat of a learning curve. Urgh. But, there’s a silver lining! The hours I’ve racked up researching and re-researching and starring theatres on google maps and, you know, attending the festival will not go in vain. I have SO many blog posts on Cannes Film Festival 2017 squirming inside me right now you’ll have NO idea what’s hit you.
There will many blog posts coming that will lay down killer Cannes tips for you all, but this post is simply what I got up to over the 3 days I attended the Festival!
Cannes Film Festival 2017
Day 1 – Friday 19th May, The Arrival
The weekend I attended Cannes also happened to be the weekend after my boyfriend finished University. Being the lovely girlfriend I am, I invited him along so he could celebrate a little. I know, I’m so kind. He spent his time reading on the beach, and I spent most of my weekend stressing about whether or not I’ll see any films. I think I know who had more fun.
On the day we arrived, the only things I wanted to accomplish were:
- Meet our AirBnB host on time
- To somehow get food in for breakfast
- Pick up my accreditation badge
Simple, right? Nope! What an effing palaver.
We did make it to the AirBnB in time (just) and I made Cole go to the supermarket on his own so I could get the bus into the city centre and pick up my badge ASAP.
Brits love a good queue
I got to the Palais de Festival (main festival hub) and I queued up in the wrong line. This was even after I specifically asked “is this where you pick up all badges?” to the nice security man outside. After being humiliated by one festival employee that my badge wasn’t there and attempting to understand where she was directing me to, I got in a huff and just wandered around huffing and puffing until I decided to queue up again and get proper directions.
The holy grail: The Cannes Cinephile office!
I got the “proper directions” and still ended up in the wrong place. I ended up at the badge-collecting station for visitors and festival employees. Awesome. Finally, after asking that nice security man outside, I was directed to a line of white tents on the roadside next to the International Village. I had found the Cannes cinephile office. Victory is MINE! There, it was easy to pick up my badge, pay for a Cannes Cinephile program (written entirely in French, helpful) and head off on my merry way to meet Cole.
We got beers, ordered pasta and then sat on the beach for a while, momentarily satisfied with accomplishing what I set out to do that day.
I also made Cole stop at the Hotel Martinez on the walk back to our AirBnB, because there were barricades specifically for journalists/fans waiting outside for people going to the gala screening so this made me curious. We managed to see Julianne Moore and Elle Fanning! No dice for Pedro Almodóvar however, this year’s Jury President and my favourite ever director, but I’ll take Julianne Moore any day!
Though I’ve discovered celeb spotting makes me feel a bit creepy.
P.S. I got my only sunburn of the weekend on the 20 minute walk from the Cannes train station to our AirBnB. It got my back, shoulders and hair parting. God’s saaaake.
Day 2 – Saturday 20th May, The Films
So, I planned the Saturday as my day for watching films. And I wanted to get in at least three films, which I accomplished!
Film 1: 120 battements par minute (2017)
I woke up at the ungodly hour of 6am, so that I was out the door by 7am, so I could maybe catch one of the super-duper early showings at 8am. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be able to get to see anything, but I thought if there was any chance of snagging a spare invitation/ticket from someone for one of the big, in-competition films, it was an 8am showing.
Fun Cannes fact: Throughout the day, you’ll see so many people (mainly with cinephile badges) dressed up in their finest gear trying to snag an invite to one of the nightly gala screenings. They will be holding signs saying something like ‘Invitation Merci!’ This is because when people get invites to screenings, they have to use them otherwise they will get penalised. So they always just give them away if they end up with spare.
And whaddya know… it worked! I loitered outside the Theatre Debussy (the second best theatre in Cannes after the Grand Lumiere Theatre) where at 8:20am, the world premiere of the in-competition film 120 Beats per minute (2017) was going to be showing. There was a line for ‘Invitation Only’ and a line for ‘Any old badge holder’ (okay, it didn’t actually say that). After standing around for 20 or so minutes, with no sign, a lovely French woman approached me said “Do you want to see the film? My friend can’t make it.” BOOM. I was in. It was an awesome experience. One of the best.
Six hours later…
I wouldn’t see another film again until six hours after I left Theatre Debussy! See, this is why the festival was a learning curve. I won’t go into too much detail, but after being turned away from a screening I was hoping to see around midday because I didn’t have an ‘invitation’, I wacked out Google Translate. My bestie. I sat in a small strip of shade gifted to me by a palm tree, ate a rather nice crepe, and read huge chunks of my Cannes Cinephile program I bought the previous day.
Turns out, it’s only the Debussy theatre where you can queue up outside and hope to get in. Any other theatre in the Palais de Festival needs tickets/invitations. You can get whatever tickets are available on the day from the Cannes Cinephile office, and the ones available are displayed on a board outside.
FINALLY. Some kind of clarity.
Unfortunately, the next film available wasn’t until 4pm, and it was a Cannes Classic screening of Robert Redford’s 1992 film A River Runs Through it. I didn’t want to see a film I own on DVD, but it was playing inside the Palais de Festival, which I hadn’t been inside yet. The alternative was to queue up for a film playing around 2:30pm in Theatre Debussy. It would have been a festival film, but I had already been in the Theatre Debussy and there were no guarantees I’d get in. I decided on the former. I spent the rest of the day relaxing, soaking up the festival atmosphere (that in itself can be time-consuming) and taking lots of piccies.
Film 2: A River Runs Through It (1992)
I don’t regret my decision at all about choosing this film. It had recently been beautifully restored in 4k and, even though I had seen it before, I could barely remember any of it. I think it was just the film I needed to watch at that time, you know? I also got to experience a screening in the Salle Buñuel theatre and explore the gorgeous Palais de Festival.
After the film, I met up with Cole and we went to dinner. We primarily stuck to the main collection of restaurants near the festival, but they were actually all very good and offered lots of veggie options.
Film 3: Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Yup, you read that right! My final film of the festival was yet another Cannes classic. Saturday Night Fever was playing as part of Cannes’ ‘Cinema on the beach’ program. It was open to any old member of the public, badge or not, which meant Cole could come! We had the intention of watching Bugsy Malone (1976) on the Friday, but it was just too cold. Even though we turned up late in comparison to most people, we managed to snag deck chairs and they were even giving out free blankets.
Again, I’d seen Saturday Night Fever before but barely remembered it. What a great film, right?! Outside cinema experiences are just the best, too.
I wouldn’t have missed this part of the Cannes Film Festival 2017 experience.
Day 3 – Sunday 21st May, No Films *Shock Gasp Ahhh*
C’Mon, this is a film AND travel blog. You think I was gonna go all the way to Cannes and not soak up some of the sights?
After an early flight on Friday and a crazy long day Saturday, I had a lie in until 11am on Sunday!! I never lie in that late. EVER. But I woke up much more refreshed and having breakfast on our balcony was so nice. Especially when you have this view:
After going through my research and what Cole had found on TripAdvisor, we decided to spend the little time we had left taking a boat over to St. Marguerite’s Island. It’s a ‘must-do’ on any Cannes list and it’s easy to see why. The island boasts an old look-out fort, a plethora of flora like Eucalyptus trees and some of the quietest (but not the nicest) beaches in Cannes. We spent the best part of the 2 1/2 hours just walking around and exploring.
After we got back, we had a pint in an irish bar (standard for any Brit in another European country) before having dinner.
A pretty successful trip I’d say!
My thoughts on Cannes Film Festival 2017
Attending Cannes Film Festival 2017 was one of the most crazy experiences I have ever had. Not just because of all the people around you, squeezing in between crowds, shouting across the promenade at each other and all the cars honking their horns, but because of how confusing and elitist it is. I spent so many hours on every website I could find, making notes, and I was nowhere near prepared. This isn’t just because most people attending the festival have already been before, but because cinephiles are treated very much like second class citizens. That could be my own perspective and my own insecurities, but I’m pretty sure others felt the same.
And it really doesn’t have to be like that. By the end of the festival, I was completely clued up on exactly where I needed to get tickets, how I could get invitations and how I could see in-competition films in so many different ways. I’m not satisfied that I needed to have a ‘dummy’ run of the film festival so that I would understand it next time.
I cannot wait to share all of the information I discovered with you guys. So that when you first attend the festival, you’ll really be able to make the most out of it. Stay tuned! 😀
Did you attend Cannes Film Festival 2017? Have you been before? Or are you wanting some tips?! Just pop me a question in the comments below!