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Cannes 2019 day-by-day


me with For Sama directors Edward Watts and Waad Al-Kateab at our Doc Day panel

Wednesday May 15

Highlights

Stood next to Richard Madden at Nice airport. He was smaller than expected and had A LOT of luggage. Even more fun was bumping into my ol’ mate Rebecca Kearey who had normal amounts of luggage. Discovered that Steak n Shake across from the Palais sells pints of Carlsberg for less than 5 Euros. First 2019 trip to my beloved Monoprix. I learned the Danish expression “bodega muscle” which means, effectively, beer belly (thanks Jacob Neiiendam). Had a meeting about an exciting new project (every freelancer’s dream). Checked into my awesome flat and it came stocked with a free bottle of wine (Lorianne Hall, will bring it to your boat). The sun was shining.


Lowlights

I seem to be receiving promotional emails from the Russian pavilion every half hour. I am getting the usual "friend" requests for party invites for parties I haven’t run in 4 years.


Thursday May 16


Highlights

I got a ticket to go see an actual film and walk up the red carpet and remind myself why we do all this other stuff…Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You -- very moving.

I had a lovely chat pre-film with Ken, Rebecca O'Brien and Paul Laverty!

Toby Rose got to ask Ken about the famous three-legged dogs in his films.

I discovered there is a new restaurant in Cannes called Jungle Meat, which is such an awful name for a restaurant that I keep having a giggle about it.

Good notices for my new pink dress.

I drank free teapigs tea in the UK Film Centre! Better than that crappy Lipton they try to push on you everywhere else. Nice to pair with the speculoos from Christian De Schutter


Lowlights

Total unorganised mess for the seating in the Balcon for the Loach. I thought there might be a scrum for a minute after it seemed like they weren't going to let us ticketholders in! After that debacle, don’t you hate sitting next to a stranger in the cinema who has bad breath? Late night old man breath. Ergh. And sad I missed my chance to see Elton play piano (and party with my Icelanders) but sometimes you just have to choose a film. Unrelated to all that, I might have strained a muscle on the bottom of my foot (perhaps another sign of getting old).


Friday May 17


Highlights

Three words: Meet the Danes. I met the Danes at a pre-Dinner. I met the Danes at Meet the Danes. I continued to meet the Danes at the secret after-party in a weird conference room. I love the Danes! Great night. Always one of the highlights of my Cannes... and noted that they served real champagne. Classy. There's me below with two of my fave Danes, Katja Adomeit (producer of The Orphanage, world premiering today!) and Lizette Gram Mygind, DFI supremo!

Also, saw lovely people (including Mike Goodridge of course) at the Macau lunch at The Members (aka Jojo Beach – looking great, Jojo Dye) – loved those fish croquettes.

The silver (gold) lining of the cold weather meant I could rock my cozy gold palm jumper.

I learned how to unsubscribe to the Russian Pavilion emails.

Oh! And I also I found a great sort of bistro/dive bar very centrally located but empty and I’m going to now suggest it for all my meetings instead of that heaving Grand Terrace. I won’t reveal the name of course...

And I got a Palme d’Or winner to raise an umbrella over my precious head at the Grand Terrace when it started misting.

It goes without saying that we had some great panels at the UK Film Centre. One panel started talking about condoms. You’ll have to watch all the videos to find out who said what.


Lowlights

It’s the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced in Cannes. Should have worn my tights (!) Someone did that SUPER ANNOYING thing of ‘oh, hey, do you remember me’? Worst maneuver ever. I know 1000 people in Cannes, buddy, I can't remember all their names at the drop of a hat. You need to say is, ‘oh, hey, it’s Joe Smith, we met in Berlin 2015 when we talked about where to eat the best schnitzel' or whatever. It gets hard when you know too many names and can't always think of the faces...So please, never do that, "hey, do you remember me" thing and put people on the spot!


Saturday, May 18

Highlights

Three great events at the UK Film Centre – catch up with some of them here: https://vimeo.com/weareukfilm


Dashing down the Croisette, running late, miserable rain, tired, but I hear a guy behind me singing to himself, at some volume. And I thought, what a happy guy, and that made me a little less cranky for a moment. And I looked around and learned it was Dana O'Keefe, an old friend from New York that I’ve known for 20 years. Which made me even happier.


Over dinner, caught up with some longtime friends and reminded ourselves why we do what we do and what’s important in life. And if that sounds too earnest we also bitched against a common nemesis.


Lowlights

What’s worse than people slowly ambling along the Croisette? People slowly ambling along the Croisette with umbrellas.


Sunday, May 19

Highlights

We’ve had a lot of great sessions (I’m biased) at the UK Film Centre but one of my favourites was a talk yesterday about making a social impact with your films. Panellists including Edward Watts and Waad Alkateab who have For Sama here in Cannes – an emotional, powerful watch about Waad’s time living under siege in Syria. You might have seen a picture of them on the red carpet holding up signs saying “Don’t Bomb Hospitals.” Well, they told me that when they walked the red carpet to the Lumiere, when they got to the top of the steps, they put their signs away as it looked like some security guys were going to take them away. And then what? Theirry Fremaux himself told them to get their signs out again and show them off at the top of the steps. This really moved me to hear-- Thierry knows the power of those steps and I’m glad alongside all the red-carpet stars you can still find an ‘issue’ film making an impact in Cannes. (Buyers, note that Autlook is holding one more market screening of For Sama on Monday at 1730 at Palais B.)


I also found out at the same panel that the HFPA (not a group I usually hold on a pedestal) donated half a million dollars last night to Help Refugees. Half a million dollars! Maybe the Golden Globes is about more than dresses after all.

Back to Cannes stuff -- After standing in the rain for an hour and looking like a drenched muskrat, I took solace at the Swedish party. Champagne and courgette flower pizzettes sure can turn around a gal’s mood quickly. Thanks Jan Goransson, Anna Serner, Madeleine Ekman, Theo Tsappos et al.


Great to catch up at Sweden with imdb's Col Needham and his wife Karen there and hear their top films of the festival so far (including Les Miserables and Rocketman).

Also saw Ingvar Sigurðsson and got to tell him his performance in A White, White Day is his career best (in an already great career).


I also always love talking every year to the Young Nordic Producers Club – a great group of rising Scandi producers who I hope to hear more from in the future! Thanks Tina Wagner and Noemi Ferrer for asking me again.


Lowlights

It was one of those days that was way, way too busy (4 panels, 4 meetings, giving a talk to producers, trying to write three news stories, etc etc). So it was one of those days when you feel really, really happy when you get a chance to take a pee break. Seriously. Except I finally, finally made it to a Palais toilet and found no toilet paper in the stall. I didn’t know whether laugh or cry. Ah, the glamour of Cannes.

I also stood, in the pouring rain after I forgot my umbrella, waiting in a queue for 45 minutes to see The Lighthouse. And got nowhere near getting in. Desperate to see some more films. Not today but the rest of the week….


Monday May 20

Highlights

I got to see another film! Dardennes’ Young Ahmed. I was a bit underwhelmed (not really sure that 68 year old Belgian dudes understand the mind of a 13-year-old Muslim extremist…. but despite that there were some strong moments). Anyway I always feel lucky to just see a film here.

3 great sessions at the UK Film Centre – glad to see our blockchain workshop was especially lively.

It was my first night of party hopping and I saw so many friends like Mark Adams Bridget Pedgrift Cathy Dunkley Finn Halligan Louise Tutt Harris Dew David Nugent (who reminded me to come check out the beach at sunset, pictured below) Marit Van Den Elshout Cecilia Edström Gareth Ellis-Unwin Sol Bondy Grimar Jonsson Lorianne Hall Christopher N Rowley Mary Burke Rob Williams and so many other fun folks. First up was Screen’s UK party, then celebrating 150 years of Mike Goodridge, Arianna Bocco and Paul Wiegard, then the Nordic party’s legendary DJ contest.


Congrats to this year’s winners, Sarajevo. Err, I missed their set. But I enjoyed Berlinale’s Bulletproof by La Roux and Critics Week’s Let’s Talk About Sex by Salt-N-Pepa also got people moving. Despite being exhausted and hobbling around on a sore foot, it was such a great vibe that I even boogied for a few minutes to Common People by Pulp. I also learned Harriet Rees is a legend on the dancefloor.


Also, I might have reached peak Scandi because someone thought I was organising the Nordic party and asked me for extra tickets. Ha ha. This ranks up there with the time a shopgirl in Reykjavik started speaking Icelandic to me because she thought I was local. Must keep up the blonde hair dye…


finally, drumroll, I tried Jungle Meat! Had to be done just because of the name. Kalpana Nair was right -- the burger was pretty good, chips were too limp. The best chips are at Pomms Amsterdam up the same street.


Lowlights

My phone charger has stopped working for no reason. Great timing. So don't WhatsApp or text me, just email me, til I can borrow another charger later today.


My mind is willing but my body is evidently too old for Cannes – I have a sore foot, a sore shoulder, a toothache and a strange bruise on my stomach (not even one of those ‘fun’ mystery bruises you get after a huge night out).

Perhaps related, yesterday was the day my no desserts/no Diet Coke plan fell b y the wayside.. My breakfast consisted of 6 slightly soggy mini eclairs leftover from the LFF party. True gourmet Cannes experience. And then I stuffed in those mac and cheese bites at the Screen party (best comfort food canapes in town, well done Mai Thornley!!) It’s the Cannes exhaustion diet.


Tuesday May 21

Highlights

Parasite – Wow! What a Film! Just the kind of bold cinema I needed to recharge my tired soul.

We had a great crowd and a great discussion as Anna Smith hosted her Girls on Film podcast at the UK Film Centre. Podcast will be up later today. Really interesting discussion, this is now my can’t-miss podcast.

At DocDay, I got to moderate yet another panel with For Sama’s Edward Watts and Waad Alkateab. I could listen to them all day. So chuffed to see the impact this film is having in Cannes.


Lowlights

Queue jumping assholes! Arrrrrgh. And not even meeting their mates in the queue just kinda sneaking in and pretending they were there all along! Huh? Let’s have some manners, people.

Panel commitments mean I can’t even attempt to see the Tarantino yesterday or today. I’m sure Brad and Leo were missing me last night. Tragic for them they had to make do with Margot Robbie's company instead of mine.


Weds May 22

Highlights

15th and final event at the Film Centre was a great one. Babak Anvari and his producers were open, honest and very funny. Talk turned to Armie Hammer’s butt and cockroach wrangling. Thanks Damon Wise for moderating!


My UK Film Centre peeps got a name badge made for me. I shed a tear about this, was really great to be part of their team this year. Such hardworking, dedicated folks toiling all hours behind the scenes to make that Centre a great resource. Well done, team and thanks for letting me be a part of it. Special shout out to Nelle Strange and Katie Ringer-Vines.


Finally made my annual pilgrimage to Al Charq. Great to avoid jambon et fromage.


Last meeting done. Whew.

Was allowed onto red carpet wearing trainers (nice trainers, mind you). Shame about the film (Dolan)….

Saw Screen’s Future Leaders recognised at the Marche festivals mixer. Thanks Jerome Paillard for the idea. Congrats to the two Cinando Award winners Mads mikkelsen and Inge de Leeuw. Proud to know you two!


Speaking of winners, thrilled that Ingvar Sigurdsson won the acting prize at Critics Week for A White White Day. He’s never been better and the film is great. But I do find it funny that they recognised him as a “rising star”-- the dude is 55 and has been doing great acting for more than 20 years.


My first Irish goodbye of the festival, an elegant one at the Grand Terrace ☺


Lowlights

So. Freaking. Tired. My body just aches. Too old for this.

The tight spacing at the Lumiere Balcon means my sore knees knocking against the back of seats. Too crowded up there.

The slightly warmer weather means fellow cinemagoers are more “fragrant” shall we say…

The toilet seat is broken in my flat. Ah, once again, the glamour of Cannes never ceases...


Thursday, May 23

Highlights

Had a crisis with not getting into rerun screenings with my market badge which would usually be a lowlight … but then had not one but two Marche employees go out of their way to help me get the issue sorted ASAP. This is not the usual experience in Cannes as you good people know, so credit where credit is due! One scanner woman at the Olympia was even trying to find my phone number to call me to make sure I was okay. I mean, that’s above and beyond the call of duty. Amazing when Cannes “works”.


Saw three films! In one day! What you’re supposed to do at a film festival, eh!? And all at the Olympia which feels luxuriously spacious after knocking my knees at the Palais for the past few days. Films were Particles (exciting new Swiss director Blaise Harrison, beautiful imagery), Share (another exciting new director Pippa Bianco and amazing central performance by young Londoner Rhianne Barreto), and Wounds (which I had fun with, good to see Armie going dark and hanging out in a dive bar, and my god that final scene is unlike anything else you will see in Cannes for sure!)


Had lunch with actual friends on the actual beach. The actual sun even came out for a bit! Nice to have a laugh with Matt Mueller, Finn Halligan Mike Goodridge and Gráinne Humphreys.


Had the perfect cocktail final cocktail – a vodka fizz – at ‘ladies night’ with my Zurich friends. Thanks Viviana Vezzani Reta Guetg Anja Fröhner


I did an EPIC shopping session at Monoprix. Bought all those famous French beauty products that I hope make me look like I have a French skin. (Although I will never look like I have French skin maybe I can still smell French.)

Had time to read a bit of Deadline’s Disrupters mag. Great issue, well done Joe Utichi Damon Wise Nancy Tartaglione and all involved.


Lowlights The flat toilet seat has now fallen completely off the toilet. Living in the lap of luxury here on the Riviera, folks.

My ankles – the only dependably slim part of my body – have swollen beyond recognition.

I bought an avocado at Monoprix that was all rotten inside. While I do not know the provenance of the avocado, I am in the mood to blame the French.


Friday May 24

Highlights The Palm Dog. Wow, a truly banner edition of the Palm Dog Awards as Quentin Tarantino showed up to collect on behalf of his canine star Brandi from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Was honoured to be on the jury (and thanks Toby Rose for letting me plug my book…) Read my roundup here.

Peter Bradshaw’s only-in-Cannes luggage story. see his vlog

My driver to Nice airport played some soothing Elton John hits (i.e. Daniel) instead of Eurotrash club music. Just the salve I needed.

And the final highlight, as always, is getting the hell out of town and going HOME.


Lowlights


My final day plans (film screening, an decadent pizza in the sunshine) were completely foiled by a horrible 24-hour bug. I did manage to drag myself down to the Palm Dog, looking like death, but had to run behind the dais when Quentin was speaking so I could vomit on the beach. Classy. I also might have had an unladylike incident involving a recycling bin at Nice airport. #toomuchinformation


Someone proposed on the Cannes red carpet? My god, personally, I can’t imagine anything worse. I also heard there is a sales agent getting married in Cannes today. I can’t even comprehend the stress of planning a wedding for the last day of Cannes.


A manspreader next to me on the flight home.


Things I did not do in Cannes this year:

Drink a single glass of rosé. This is v v weird, I know. But I always opted for champagne or beer or Aperol.

Wash up at the Petit Majestic – guess I’m old enough to know better now.

Eat a pizza. A shame cause there are a lot of good pizza options in Cannes.

Get to stalk Claes Bang (maybe in 2020, Claes?)

Watch enough films.

Wendy Mitchell is a film and entertainment journalist, film festival consultant, and panel and Q&A moderator.