Thursday, February 29, 2024

My First Time At The Cannes Film Festival

After an eight-hour flight, a 40-minute shuttle bus ride, and lots of walking around before I could find my hotel, I’m finally settled in for my first experience at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival. This has been a bucket list item of mine for many years and is not something I’m taking for granted. In fact, I wholly recognize this is a trip I could’ve (and probably should’ve) taken a few years ago but didn’t for a number of reasons. Part of it was because of how big it felt in comparison to the other festivals I’ve covered. As of this writing, the festival hasn’t even started yet, and already I can tell the scale of this thing is massive and far more extensive than anything else I’ve ever seen before. The language barrier was also intimidating, but it hasn’t been an issue so far, and everyone is super friendly. Another reason was to give other writers on the team a chance to enjoy a festival of this magnitude. Last year NBP writer Amy Smith covered the festival for us and we’ve had other freelance writers contribute in past, while this year, in addition to myself, I have NBP’s Ema Sasic along with me on this memorable journey. But all the self-doubt and excuses are behind me now, and all that’s left is to enjoy the movies, soak up some sun and hopefully, have the time of my life.

So, which movies am I looking forward to, and how am I doing so far with securing tickets before the festival officially kicks off tomorrow night with the world premiere of Maïwenn’s “Jeanne Du Barry?” Well, the answer is I’m a bit nervous. I had always heard horror stories about members of the press queuing up in lines at Cannes based on their press badge level, which is identified by their colors, with yellow being the lowest of the low, blue the next step up, then pink, and then the all mighty white. Now, instead of lining up for hours in the sun before a high-profile screening, the same class badge approach has carried over to a ticketing system, and the results are frustrating, to say the least. Thousands of us would be logging in at 7 am in France (1 am for me in New York before my arrival) to try and book tickets for four days from then, and the best way to describe the experience was a total and utter shitshow. The site would crash, produce error messages, and if you were not moving at the speed of lightning, you were likely going to get shut out, especially if you had a lower press badge because those colors only have so many allotments compared to the higher badges. You may get some tickets within a few precious seconds, but if you’re not quick enough, you’re at the mercy of hoping that someone cancels their ticket and you happen to be logged in to see that a ticket is now suddenly available for a showing that was previously thought to be sold out. So, you can either try your luck constantly draining the life from your phone battery by refreshing on the go or hop in a rush line hours before a film and hope for the best. Just know, though, that the color of your badge will also determine your chances of getting in through that method.

Compared to Sundance, TIFF, or NYFF, I cannot say I’ve appreciated the uncertainty this has produced. Some days, I only have two screenings booked when I was hoping for five. Though, I’m doing better than some others who I’m told only have one some days or even none. Of course, this all made sense when I picked up my badge to discover I had been granted a yellow press badge. I’m not going to sit here and complain about the press office’s decision on this matter, for I can see where they’re coming from with bestowing this upon me. I have myself and Ema attending instead of one of us, and this is only NBP’s second year officially covering the festival as an outlet. However, I can tell you all already that the positive energy of the environment and constant reassurance from those who have been through that same anxiety-ridden doubt I’ve been going through this many times before has put me at ease, knowing full well this will all work out in the end.

I may not get in to see Martin Scorsese’s “Killers Of The Flower Moon” (by far my most anticipated film of the festival and a significant reason why I’m finally here enjoying my first Cannes). Still, I’ve already secured tickets for Hirokazu Kor-eda’s “Monster,” James Mangold’s “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom,” Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s “Black Flies,” Sean Price Williams’ directorial debut “The Sweet East,” Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone Of Interest,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses” and more! And that’s only the first four days, with seven days (in my case – I leave on the 27th) remaining. Unless I extend my stay an extra day, I will miss the Closing Night film, the latest Pixar film, Peter Sohn’s “Elemental.” But before then, I’m also looking forward to Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City,” Jessica Hausner’s “Club Zero,” Karim Aïnouz’s “Firebrand,” Kim Jee-woon’s “Cobweb,” and Toddy Haynes’ “May December.” And this is not to mention the many films in Un Certain Regard, Cannes Critics’ Week and Director’s Fortnight which may produce some hidden gems of the festival.

Here is the full lineup for this year’s festival:

​OFFICIAL COMPETITION
ABOUT DRY GRASSES by Nuri Bilge CEYLAN
ANATOMIE D’UNE CHUTE by Justine TRIET
ASTEROID CITY by Wes ANDERSON
BANEL & ADAMA by Ramata-Toulaye SY (First film)
BLACK FLIES by Jean-Stéphane SAUVAIRE
CLUB ZERO by Jessica HAUSNER
FALLEN LEAVES by Aki KAURISMAKI
FIREBRAND by Karim AÏNOUZ
FOUR DAUGHTERS by Kaouther BEN HANIA
IL SOL DELL’AVVENIRE by Nanni MORETTI
JEUNESSE by WANG Bing
KIDNAPPED by Marco BELLOCCHIO
LA CHIMERA by Alice ROHRWACHER
LA PASSION DE DODIN BOUFFANT by TRAN Anh Hung
LAST SUMMER by Catherine BREILLAT
LE RETOUR by Catherine CORSINI
MAY DECEMBER by Todd HAYNES
MONSTER by KORE-EDA Hirokazu
THE OLD OAK by Ken LOACH
PERFECT DAYS by Wim WENDERS
THE ZONE OF INTEREST by Jonathan GLAZER

UN CERTAIN REGARD
THE BREAKING ICE by Anthony CHEN
THE BURITI FLOWER by João SALAVIZA & Renée NADER MESSORA
THE DELINQUENTS by Rodrigo MORENO
HOPELESS by KIM Chang-hoon (First film)
HOW TO HAVE SEX by Molly MANNING WALKER (First film)
GOODBYE JULIA by Mohamed KORDOFANI (First film)
IF ONLY I COULD HIBERNATE by Zoljargal PUREVDASH (First film)
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM by Thomas CAILLEY
THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES by Asmae EL MOUDIR
THE NEW BOY by Warwick THORNTON
NOTHING TO LOSE by Delphine DELOGET (First film)
OMEN by Baloji TSHIANI (First film)
ONLY THE RIVER FLOWS by WEI Shujun
UNE NUIT by Alex LUTZ (The film will be screened Out of Competition – Closing Un Certain Regard)
THE PACKS by Kamal LAZRAQ (First film)
ROSALIE by Stéphanie DI GIUSTO
THE SETTLERS by Felipe GÁLVEZ (First film)
SIMPLE COMME SYLVAIN by Monia CHOKRI
TERRESTRIAL VERSES by Ali ASGARI & Alireza KHATAMI

OUT OF COMPETITION
COBWEB by KIM Jee-woon
THE IDOL by Sam LEVINSON
INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY by James MANGOLD
JEANNE DU BARRY by MAÏWENN (Opening Night Film)
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by Martin SCORSESE
L’ABBÉ PIERRE – UNE VIE DE COMBATS by Frédéric TELLIER

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS
ACIDE by Just PHILIPPOT
HYPNOTIC by Robert RODRIGUEZ
KENNEDY by Anurag KASHYAP
OMAR LA FRAISE by Elias BELKEDDAR
PROJECT SILENCE by KIM Tae-gon

SPECIAL SCREENINGS
ANSELM (DAS RAUSCHEN DER ZEIT) / (LE BRUIT DU TEMPS, ANSELM KIEFER) by Wim WENDERS
BREAD AND ROSES by Sahra MANI
LE THÉORÈME DE MARGUERITE by Anna NOVION
LITTLE GIRL BLUE by Mona ACHACHE
MAN IN BLACK by WANG Bing
OCCUPIED CITY by Steve MCQUEEN
RETRATOS FANTASMAS (PORTRAITS FANTÔMES / PICTURES OF GHOSTS) by Kleber MENDONÇA FILHO
STRANGE WAY OF LIFE by Pedro ALMODOVAR

CANNES PREMIERE
BONNARD, PIERRE ET MARTHE by Martin PROVOST
CERRAR LOS OJOS (CLOSE YOUR EYES) by Victor ERICE
EUREKA by Dir. Lisandro ALONSO
KUBI by Takeshi KITANO
L’AMOUR ET LES FORÊTS by Valérie DONZELLI
PERDIDOS EN LA NOCHE by Amat ESCALANTE
THE TIME TO LOVE by Katell QUILLÉVÉRÉ

SHORT FILMS
FILLES DU FEU by Pedro COSTA

CANNES CRITICS’ WEEK
Power Alley (Levante) by Lillah Halla
Il Pleut Dans La Maison by Paloma Sermon-Daï
Inshallah A Boy by Amjad Al Rasheed
Sleep (Jam) by Jason Yu
Lost Country by Vladimir Perisič
Le Ravissement by Iris Kaltenbäck
Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu
Ama Gloria by Maria Amachoukeli
The (Exp)erience Of Love/Le Syndrome Des Amour Passés by Ann Sirot & Raphaël Balboni
Vincent Must Die by Stéphan Castang
No Love Lost (La Fille de Son Père) by Erwan Le Duc

DIRECTOR’S FORTNIGHT
The Goldman’s Case by Cedric Kahn (Opening Film)
In Our Day by Hong Sang-soo (Closing Film)
In Flames by Zarrar Kahn
Legua by Filipa Reis & Joao Miller Guerra
The Book of Solutions by Michel Gondry
Mambar Pierrette by Rosine Mbakam
Riddle of Fire by Weston Razooli
The Feeling That The Time For Doing Something Has Passed by Joanna Arnow
The Sweet East by Sean Price Williams
A Prince by Pierre Creton
A Song Sung Blue by Zihan Geng
Abraham’s Valley by Manoel de Oliveira
Agra by Kanu Behl
The Other Laurens by Claude Schmitz
Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell by Thien An Pham
Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry by Elene Naveriani
Grace by IIya Povolotosky
She is Conann by Bertrand Mandico
Creatura by Elena Martin Gimeno
Deserts by Faouzi Bensaidi

I already feel so lucky to be here and to make this dream, which only a few short years ago seemed so far away, come true. There are so many discoveries to be found, friends to meet, and experiences to be shared. Come what may, I’m going to do my best to cast aside my typically stressed film festival mindset (those who know me from other festivals understand that the term relaxation does not apply to me) of attempting to cover as much as possible while running on fumes and instead, take a deep breath, count my blessings and cherish every moment. Please follow along with Ema and me on Twitter as our Cannes adventure officially starts tomorrow!

Are you excited for the 2023 Cannes Film Festival? Which films are you most looking forward to hearing about and seeing? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

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Matt Neglia
Matt Negliahttps://nextbestpicture.com/
Obsessed about the Oscars, Criterion Collection and all things film 24/7. Critics Choice Member.

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