“Forget the Oscars, the real stars go to Cannes!” This was how I started my pitch to my Eyewitness News editor in 2007, trying to persuade her to send me to the South of France to cover the film festivals of film festivals. She had said no, that it was too expensive, yet I wasn’t deterred. I set about finding a sponsor to help cover the cost, and out of a dozen emails sent, I only got one reply back. But it turns out that was the only one I needed.
One email, eight years later, I’m still one of the four thousand journalists that attend Cannes to cover the festival – its buzz, its stars, its highlights and drama. Eight is also a significant number for the fest this year, as it’s the basis of the poster – Fellini’s 8 1/2 with his star Marcello Mastroianni.
I won’t bother telling you that over those eight times – or huit, as one says in French – I’ve learned how truly unglamorous it can be to run around trying to get George Clooney’s attention. Because, even though Cannes has its own set of challenges, just like any job, I try not to take it for granted that I’m here – doing what is my dream job.
That I’ve been in the audience for the 10-minute standing ovation South African film Life, Above All earned in 2010. That I’ve interviewed the likes of Michael Douglas and Leonardo DiCaprio while overlooking the blue sea that is the backdrop of the grand Hotel du Cap. That I’ve witnessed the real-life TMZ-like frenzy that happens when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie take their kids shopping at a children’s boutique. That I’ve seen Robert Redford’s eyes water after the premiere of a movie he should’ve earned another Oscar nod for, All is Lost.
And that I’m back, this time, thanks in part to sponsorship from the National Film and Video Foundation – for an eighth time.