'It's just one long party from beginning to end'

You can go to the Cannes Film Festival and enjoy some of the best drama, comedy and acting without ever seeing a movie. Socialising, hustling, networking are what matter. With the 51st festival opening this week, Cannes regulars recall the highs and lows of a showbiz event like no other

THE POLITICIAN

Tom Clarke, minister for films

THERE IS meant to be a curse of Cannes. No minister with responsibility for films has ever been in post to go twice. But unless Tony has a reshuffle this weekend I have broken that curse. I went last year as films minister. I was astonished by the British presence. I was able to meet more people from the British film industry in Cannes than I could in London.

But my first visit was in 1972. I had directed a 15-minute, black and white, 16mm film about Queen of the South Football Club. It was called Give Us A Goal. It was shown at the amateur festival in Cannes. Last year I took great delight in the international press corps chasing me. They asked me what my favourite film was and I said Give Us A Goal. Then I asked them who the director was and they all looked blank. Also, they had never had a minister before who actually knew about films. Last year I announced the aim of doubling audiences for British films. I had in mind the length of the parliament to achieve that. But we reached the figure, 23 per cent, just before Christmas.

THE BLAGGER

Harriet Bass, last year's chief executive of the New Producers' Alliance, a collection of young British film-makers

I HAD TO advise the Brits how to blag their way into the nightly parties. It was the only way for many of them to eat and drink, when you remember a gin and tonic there can cost pounds 8.

They have to get those precious party tickets. The nightly screenings are always followed by a party, and it means running up and down the Croisette at 5pm and badgering the PR offices for tickets. We called it the five o'clock scramble. And if you can't get tickets you have to talk your way in. It's easy if you're a girl because you can flirt with the doorman. If you can't do that then you should always have the name of someone high up on a particular film and say you are related to them. But make sure that their spouse or partner is not standing right behind you.

The whole of the world's film industry is squeezed into one street for 10 days. There's glamour and seediness. The seediness is the huge number of liggers and "triers on", desperate to be noticed. You see people come down full of hope and optimism and end up drunk in back-street bars after finding that nobody wanted to buy or see their movies.

THE ACTOR

John Hurt, starring in the 1998 Cannes entry 'All The Little Animals'

ONE SIDE of it is work, and there's a lot of it. And the other side is totally social, and it's a party. If you turn your head round the right way, you will have a lot of amusement. You work like a dog in the day in terms of interviews. I will be there for four days this year and I will talk to about 50 journalists a day from the international press. The parties can get very wild. The best party I went to was held in the big castle just outside Cannes. It was like being in the Antonioni film La Notte. One is always looking for new work in Cannes. People are always saying "gimme a call" or "we must do something" but I don't remember anything ever coming to fruition. It's full of high hopes and full of hustling. I remember sitting on the Carlton terrace and one young man said how he had just struck this amazing deal with a big American studio. And I thought poor boy, poor boy.

THE JUROR

Jeremy Thomas, member of 1987 panel

I HAVE BEEN to Cannes many times as a film producer; my one time as a juror coincided with the 40th anniversary of the festival. Yves Montand was the president and Norman Mailer was on the jury. On the very last day you're whisked up to this villa and locked in. It's like choosing the Pope. But in the middle of your deliberations you get this huge gourmet meal as an inducement. Over the two weeks you have to see 20 or so movies and some of them are over three and a half hours long, and films that are very difficult to stick with. But it does give you a viewpoint on what people are thinking all over the world.

Watching the films is nice. The Palais is the temple of cinema and on the jury we're in a special roped-off box at the back of the cinema, and there's a little bar at the back of it when you want refreshments. They put you up at the Carlton and every three days there's a meeting to discuss the films. But even though I knew most of the film-makers, no one put me under any pressure. There wasn't a single bribe.

THE PR WOMAN

Sara Keene of the Corbett and Keene agency

I'VE BEEN going for 20 years and each year I swear I will never go again. We have to organise each day like a military operation. The day starts with a 7.30am meeting, and we won't finish until one or two the next morning. We're handling seven films this year, most of them over the same three- day period. There are 2,000 journalists in Cannes. We'll be fielding requests for interviews, organising screenings, setting up parties, booking restaurants - when we can find one with seats available - trying to find hotel rooms for unexpected guests, arranging private planes to fly stars down for last-minute visits. If a client wins an award at the end of the festival, then we would have to fly them back to Cannes.

There are six or more daily trade papers and we have to write press releases for them every day, on industry news, who has bought what film, who's arriving in town. There are seven of us in the office, and we all get walkie-talkies so we can keep in touch as things are happening. One year the director Bernardo Bertolucci fell ill on the day of his press conference and we had to find 60 journalists, none of whom have offices, to tell them. On the opening night my company will be throwing a party. But for the second year running I won't be there on that day. I'll be in Britain on the set of Eugene Onegin with Ralph Fiennes. Despite what people think, the industry doesn't shut down for Cannes.

THE PRODUCER

Emer McCourt, at Cannes last year to raise money for her film 'Human Traffic'

IT WAS brilliant, one long party from beginning to end. I was up all night and all day. It took two weeks to recover. I went to all the parties and talked film all the time. My best memory is being on Francis Ford Coppola's yacht, drinking wine and talking to him about my film. He was softly spoken and gentle, and listened carefully.

The whole process there is so simple. The whole industry is there. You just take your business cards and knock on doors and sell the idea. We didn't raise any money there. But Cannes isn't about raising money, it's about making contacts and following them up over the next year. We've raised the pounds 2.2m budget since Cannes '97. We've shot the film and this year I'm going back to sell it. And we're having our own party. It will be the grooviest party of the whole festival.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Simon Wilkinson, freelance who will be attending his fifth Cannes this year

IT'S BLOODY hard work. I probably walk more miles in one day on the Croisette than I do when I go to the Yorkshire Dales, near my home. I work for Moving Pictures, a magazine that publishes every day at the festival, so I do 25 jobs in one day. The official photocalls make the world's most boring pictures; the stars just stand in groups on the roof of the Palais with other people connected with a film that no one has heard of.

The best pictures can come from stars just coming out of their hotels, or quickly arranged photocalls. I got a great one of Dustin Hoffman at his hotel last year. The French and Italian photographers are barmy. They scream and shout. They are like children. But the funny thing is that although Cannes is a French event it's effectively run by the British. Nearly all the stars have British PR companies, and they often give the British photographers good pictures because they love winding up the French.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London