The groupie's guide to Cannes

Jason and Chris may not be familiar faces among the glitterati but they've been to all the best parties.

By the time Chris Kostrzak and Jason Wagenheim had been in Cannes for four days they had already challenged Mark Wahlberg (formerly known as Marky Mark) and Leonardo DiCaprio, stars of The Basketball Diaries, to a game, been greeted like long-lost friends by the actress Lili Taylor, hung out until five in the morning with the producer of Pulp Fiction, Lawrence Bender, and chatted to the director Spike Lee.

Even the best-placed film executives or well-connected journalists would be proud of such networking. It is almost unthinkable for two fresh-faced, amusing Americans who have no contacts in the business. But then Chris, a 23-year-old Columbia Film School graduate, and Jason a 22-year-old film theory student at the University of South Carolina, know that there is nowhere like Cannes for rubbing a few celebrity shoulders. "It's a thousand times bigger than the Oscars," Jason enthuses. "This is the place to be in May."

Already the likes of Robert Altman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dustin Hoffman, Stephen Frears and Kate Winslet have been strutting their stuff up and down the Croisette and more big stars are yet to come. Angelica Huston, Catherine Deneuve, Holly Hunter and Rosanna Arquette are all in competition later this week, along with Hollywood's next big thing, Liv Tyler.

Chris and Jason also have been making names from themselves as two of the most well-informed sources in town about the social scene. "I'm like a radar," says Chris, "I can pick up a party invitation from within seven miles." Every day, more and more party hopefuls make a detour to the festival's American pavilion in search of Les Deux Fromages (the two cheeses) as Chris and Jason rather incongruously like to call themselves. The question is always the same: "Can you get us tickets for tonight?"

Yet you don't have to beg, borrow or steal invitations in Cannes to get within spitting distance of your screen idols. You only have to walk up and down the Croisette with your eyes half-open and you'll find yourself bumping into a few. Every evening, the glitterati trot up the steps of the Palais in all their designer finery for the two official screenings and there is no big secret about where they all stay. For two weeks, the hotels Carlton, Majestic and Martinez become home to Hollywood and amateur groupies, armed to the teeth with cameras, who spend their days waiting outside to catch a glimpse of a Patricia Arquette or a Bernardo Bertolucci.

But Jason and Chris's philosophy is "Why star-spot from a distance when you can while the night away with the film world's finest over a few beers?" For this, you need to swiftly build up a few contacts. The town is swarming with producers and film executives who can either introduce you to the stars or offer you invitations to the parties that take place each evening on the beach.

Kamal, an aspiring English director, managed to wangle five tickets to the exclusive Miramax party last year when he started chatting to one of the company's vice-presidents after she had had a bit too much to drink. He spent part of the evening dancing with the Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei.

The Deux Fromages' networking technique is simply to make contacts in the bars of the main hotels. "If you hang out in them, you get invited somewhere before you know it," they claim. You simply need to arm yourself with a bit of confidence and wads of money - with bottles of beers at pounds 6, being a professional Cannes groupie is not cheap. "Talk to everybody," advises Jason, "and blow up their egos. If you find out that somebody did the lighting on Robert Altman's film, tell them that lighting's what you want to do."

Their party-crashing spree started in the easiest of ways. They just made a photocopy of an invitation to the party organised for Mark Wahlberg's film Fear. "We got the name of the press attache and told the bouncers that she had run out of invitations and had to resorted to making photocopies," says Jason. "We even signed them on the back 'OK, Carole'."

He managed to get into his next party (for I Shot Andy Warhol) by pretending that he was a journalist. "I said that I was with Screen in my best English accent," he laughs in his broad American brogue. Gatecrashing techniques employed by others in the past have ranged from dressing up as waiters and adjusting your clothes once inside to pretending you're Kate Moss's sister.

Chris had an easier time of getting past the bouncers at the Andy Warhol party. He was simply invited to it by the film's star, Lili Taylor. "She was going through the lobby at the Majestic and she looked over to me and said, 'Oh my God, how are you doing?' and started hugging me," he laughs. "I pretended to know her for about five seconds and then there was a silence. I said, 'I know how I know you, but just how do you know me?'." Even when Taylor discovered her mistake, she still told him to come over to the party where he rubbed shoulders with the stars of Reservoir Dogs, Steve Buscemi and Stephen Dorf.

Afterwards, he and Jason followed a group of people back to the Majestic bar and ended up chatting to Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio until the early hours. The conversation centered around basketball and the Deux Fromages challenged Wahlberg and DiCaprio to a game. "You just want to play us so you can say that you beat the guys who were in The Basketball Diaries," said DiCaprio, who only agreed to play for $500 stakes. They retorted by telling DiCaprio that he "dribbled like a girl". A friend then whisked Chris over to talk to Lawrence Bender, and he spent two hours trying to persuade the producer to read an outline of a script he has written.

The following night, Chris managed to get into a "sex" party in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean. "The place was surrounded by Ferraris and Rolls-Royces," he says, in awe, "and there was a pool and a hot-tub."

It all sounds like groupie heaven, but is there a downside to all this partying with the stars? "The bad news is that I haven't slept for three days," Jason complains. This is not exactly true, however, because after their night with DiCaprio and Wahlberg, they fell asleep at a bus stop on the way back to the flat they rent for the duration of the festival. "We sat down there to wait for a taxi," says Jason, "and when I woke up, it was already light and Chris was drooling on my shoulder." They had been snoozing there in their tuxedos for hours.

Their ultimate goal is to get into a party on one of the yachts in the harbour. "We're going to swim out there and tell them that we fell off their boat," says Jason. "Maritime law says that they have to pull us on board."

They are also looking forward to the Trainspotting party. "That's the party everyone's been talking about since I got here," says Chris. They are not trying to get their hands on any tickets, however. On Saturday night, they were refused entry into the Spike Lee party even though they had been given invitations by Johnny Depp's agent.

"It's so ironic. The only party we had an invitation for was the only one we didn't get into. You know, a beautiful woman is worth much more than a party pass."


Carefully follow the dress code for each party. Men should come armed with a tuxedo - "You get more respect."

The best place to network is the bar of the Majestic Hotel "because it's less spacious than the bars at the Carlton and the Martinez and so, it's easier to bump into people". Important film people generally turn up after the black-tie official screenings.

If you are not a good networker, then bring a lot of money. Party tickets can always be bought (tickets for the Spike Lee party cost Fr100, about pounds 13).

Brush up on your film knowledge. "You could get by knowing nothing about film, but it's much easier if you do."

You can see the stars of films in the parallel section, Le Quinzaine des Realisateurs, at press conferences, which are open to the public. They take place in the marquee in front of La Malmaison (next to the Noga Hilton). Steve Buscemi and Kate Winslet have already fended off questions this week. Nigel Hawthorne and Eric Stolz are still to come.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

    Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

    £25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?