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Miss Ntertainment

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I’ve had the good fortune of a being able to travel to London often enough to spend a few miles in the company of Run Dem Crew, a large group of fantastic people who make running through the streets of the city an adventure every time. The positive energy and heartfelt vibes of community come from the top, from the crew’s founder, Charlie Dark, aka Daddy Dark. He’s a very busy man – a poet, a teacher, a DJ, a writer – and so I was very happy to pin him down for a quick run through his hood in East London.
After the recent London Marathon, I sat in on the crew’s Tuesday night pre-run session, which they call Housekeeping. It’s when Charlie presents the medals that have been earned to the runners – most will write a note about the experience and he will congratulate them in front of their running family. A huge number of RDCers ran London so the whole night was taken over by talk of the marathon. I found myself tearing up over the stories I heard – people I didn’t know overcoming their own insecurities to take on the 26.2 miles of London town. What moved me most though, was the emotion from Charlie, a man who, after many years in the music business (some of them as part of the trip hop group Attica Blues), has “been there, done that,” and still has passion and pride to share with those around him.
I haven’t yet run London, but I did run the Hackney Half, while I was there, and got to experience the support and love of RDC first-hand. It’s not a stretch to say RDC made me appreciate London, and those who live there, in a new way. I’ve found that London can be cold – not just in weather – but they made me feel at home. Charlie, together with the likes of BridgeRunners here in NYC, has created an international network of crews that come together to support each other via various “bridge the gap” events. He’s also given us the idea of “cheer dem,” and his phrase to “do da ting” when it comes to running a race has permeated many Instagram feeds way beyond London.
I ran with him through Stratford, taking in some of the Hackney Half course to find out more about how running has left its mark on his life…
For more on Charlie, follow him here, and for more on Run Dem Crew, head over here

 

It’s always a big comedown to go back to a life not spent watching 2-3 movies a day, running from one interview to the next. And so it is with Life After Cannes. But there is the knowledge that many of the films seen will start to make their way out into the world and take their place within cinemas around the world.
Here are my favourite films from this year’s festival, which I hope to be watching again very soon…

And for more on them, I present their trailers:
Paterson

The Handmaiden
Captain Fantastic

This is what I wrote for the Sunday Times about some of my Cannes memories…
It was the 2nd day of the 60th edition of the Cannes Film Festival when I found myself inside the grand Theatre Lumiere of the hallowed Palais des Festival, heels in hand, hair dishevelled, unable to breathe. It being my first time at the world’s most prestigious film festival – my first time as one of 4000 journalists jostling for Julianne Moore’s attention – meant it was also my first time learning about the tiered-credential system that put me at the (almost) bottom of the wrung with limited access into the films and film-stars I was to report on. With 5 minutes to go until the doors closed, I, along with about a hundred other people, had only just managed to literally squeeze into the opening film after an hour’s uncertain-we’d-get-in wait. Flashes of photographs I’d seen over the years of the glamorous international film festival played in my mind, as I was pushed up the stairs by other bodies rushing past me – learning also, for the first time, the difference in manners across various countries. ‘This is so glamorous,’ I thought, as I wiped the sweat from my brow and elbowed my way through to find a seat right at the very back corner of the theatre.
 
As a journalist covering the most popular of film festivals – the place where A-list stars and auteur directors go to showcase their finest work, I quickly caught on, like those colleagues who’d been coming to the fest long before me, glamorous is not quite the word to describe the event that takes place in the south of France every May. Oh sure, it’s glamorous for the designer-dressed and stylist-primped stars, and for those reading glossy magazines and tabloid websites at home. But for a reporter trying to file two stories twice a day for twelve days, it can be a harried and quite startling experience. Until you figure out a Cannes groove (and move up the credential rung), it’s overwhelming, and altogether unglamorous, trying to be everywhere all at once.
Over the years, I’ve missed out seeing U2 perform on the steps of the Palais des Festivals, I didn’t catch a souvenir hat from Spielberg as he tossed dozens of them out into the crowd at the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I have yet to bag my way into a Vanity Fair party. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 10 years of covering the Cannes Film Festival, it’s that the stuff you miss out on doesn’t mean that much in the face of all that you do get to experience.
Here then, are ten of my stand-out moments – both weird and full of wonder – that I’ll think back on fondly, as I sip champagne on my yacht overlooking the Cote D’Azur at this year’s fest (just kidding – I’ll probably be standing in a line somewhere, inhaling a coffee and a pain au chocolat in time to make the next screening). Just as long as it sounds glamorous, that’s all that counts.
10. The Time I Became Paparazzi because of Brad and Angie…
Hollywood’s hottest couple take the dial from “0 to 100 real quick” when they’re in town. One bright and sunny afternoon in 2008, I’d been walking back to the apartment where I was staying when I turned the corner and saw a huge crowd of people had gathered in the street where I was headed. Brad and Angie, pregnant at the time with her twins, had been inside the exclusive baby clothing store, Bonpoint, two doors down from my apartment. ‘How silly of all these people, standing outside gawking,’ I thought, in the same moment as I felt my own arm lift up, camera in tow. As a journalist, I should be recording this, I reasoned, edging closer. You know, to report how very blonde little Shiloh’s locks were, and the way the fedora sat perfectly on Papa Pitt’s head. When the family exited the store, the frenzy turned delirious, with cries of “Braaaad! Angelinaaaaa!” turning the usually-quiet street into a scene from the pages of Us Weekly. They got into a car and drove away. Just like that, they were gone, and I felt my cheeks flush from the excitement. How very silly of these people, indeed.
9. The Time I Met Robert Pattinson before he was Edward Cullen…
Before Lee Daniels directed Oprah in The Butler, and brought us Cookie Lyon in Empire, he put a make-up-less Mariah Carey on the big screen and instructed Zac Efron to pee on Nicole Kidman, in his films Precious and The Paperboy, both of which debuted at Cannes. Before Ben Whishaw was Q in the Bond franchise, he was John Keats in the fest’s 2009 opener Bright Star. And before Robert Pattinson became a vampire, he was a lesser-known Half-blood, in Cannes to preview footage of the first ever Twilight movie. As we hugged for a photo opp, during which he bent down and endearingly said, “I need to come to your height,” I heard a small group of girls who’d gathered at the entrance of the beach where we were standing, scream at the top of their lungs. A small but telling indication of the level of fame he would soon go on to garner.
8. The Time I Chased Tarantino Down the Street…
The Cannes Effect can be quite crazy when it first takes over. I remember South African comedian Dave Kibuuka joining a bunch of photographers running after Pamela Anderson down the Croisette, and then telling me afterwards, he didn’t know why. “What was I going to do once I’d caught up to her?” he laughed. I laughed too, until the next day when I found myself chasing Quentin Tarantino, after spotting him at the Carlton Hotel and saying hello. I figured if I could speak to him a little more, maybe I could try arrange an interview. This was before I knew how the whole game operated – where you have to be nominated by the film company to do an interview. With hopeful naiveté, I dashed after him as his black-and-white sneakers jumped into a car. There was no way I was going to keep up, and I thought of Dave’s chase as I stopped. What was I going to do if I caught up to him – shout through his window? I could only laugh to myself, a few days later, when I sat down in front of him for an interview organized by his film’s South African distributor back home – all with the click of a mouse.
7. The Time a Danish Director Silenced Us All…
A journalist faux pas at Cannes is nothing too special; it’s far more outrageous coming from a filmmaker or actor. President of the 2008 jury, Sean Penn chain-smoking his way through a press conference in defiance of France’s strict anti-smoking laws was nothing compared to Danish director Lars Von Trier’s audacious actions. One minute he was waxing lyrical about how great an actress his leading lady Kristen Dunst was in his film Melancholia, the next he was seemingly admitting sympathy for Adolf Hitler. It was a moment even those journalists with a lot to say were stunned. Cannes banned Von Trier after the incident, lifting his persona non grata status only upon his apology, but it’s gone down in the history of the fest’s controversies, along with Heelgate last year and the year before when a Ukrainian reporter crawled under America Ferrera’s dress on the red carpet.
6. The Time Leonardo DiCaprio made My Knees Weak…
Before going to Cannes, I considered myself fairly adept at press conferences. But put Leonardo DiCaprio and a microphone in front of me and my thoughts aren’t quite as clear. I knew I wanted to ask something about climate change, when I took the mic, as he was in Cannes with the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I felt my mouth go dry and my knees knock the seat in front of me, as I stood up to ask my question. I heard myself try to break the ice a little with a joke about how we South Africans appreciated his accent in Blood Diamond, which seemed to work because his resultant smile gave me the chance to re-gain my composure. I’ve interviewed the Oscar-winning actor a few times since, and while I no longer get weak at the knees, I treasure the memory of what it was like in the days before I became a certified Professional Name-Dropper and use it as a reminder not to ever get too jaded.
5. The Time Mike Myers became Forever my Hero…
He may not have made a (non-animated) movie in forever, but whenever Mike Myers decides to release Austin Powers 4, I’ll be his biggest supporter. Covering the glitzy amFAr Fundraiser, hosted by Sharon Stone, is a hard task when you’re not one of the major TV shows like E! or Entertainment Tonight. One year, I was placed at the bottom of the red carpet, where I could barely catch any of the celebrities walking past because my arm was too short to reach over the barricade. Seeing me struggle, Myers, who was there for Inglourious Basterds took my microphone out of my hand, and began talking directly into it, answering questions. Ms Stone was walking behind him, and to continue the goodness, he passed the mic onto a French journalist who then placed it in front of her – making not just my story but my night, too.
4. The Time Schwarzenegger Almost Ran me Over…
Stars will do a lot in the name of promotion. Sacha Baron Cohen has walked down the Croisette, the boardwalk-like strip of Cannes in front of the beaches, in his barely-there Borat costume, and Jim Carey has brought snow to the south of France. But last year, some of the world’s biggest action movie stars – from Sylvester Stallone to Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford – drove in tanks down the street, for The Expendables 3. The combination of all that star power was blinding and when I stepped in to get a closer look, I almost had my toe ridden over by the tank Schwarzenegger, also part of the line-up, was driving. 
The Time Salma Hayek Blew Me Away…
I’ve yet to see a woman win the coveted Palme D’Or prize in the time I’ve been attending the fest – except for when Blue is the Warmest Color’s two lead actresses shared the prize with the film’s director. It’s been something the festival needs to work on, following New Zealand director Jane Campion’s 1993 win. Using one of the best quotes in movie history, she exclaimed: “Show them the money!” over and over, as she used facts and figures to prove the monetary value, and sense, in championing female-driven projects. 
2. The Time a Foreign Film Made me a New Foreign Friend…
Tickets to the red carpet premieres are not always easy to come by, and every day of the fest people stand at the doors of the Palais, with signs begging for tickets to the night’s big screening. I got lucky one year, and had been given an extra ticket to the closing night ceremony. There was a person at the front of the palais in need of a ticket so I motioned for her to join me. She didn’t speak English and I could only speak un petit peu of French, so we hand-signalled our way through taking pictures of each other on the red carpet and watching Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, and afterwards, shared a Nutella crepe before she hugged me goodbye, saying merci beaucoup for the fiftieth time. I’ve made many friends from all over the world since first setting foot in Cannes (indeed my best friend is one I met the night we both snuck into an Ivana Trump party), but the one I made that night, even though I don’t see her anymore (she didn’t have Facebook), was a true highlight. To riff off Humphrey Bogart, “we’ll always have Cannes.”
1. The Time Life, Above All got a Two Thumbs Up…
For a film lover going to Cannes, very little tops the feeling of seeing a truly great movie, and the experience that’s left when the lights go up and you feel like something inside has shifted. When the credits began rolling after South African-born director Oliver Schmidtz’ moving drama Life, Above All, debuted in 2010, the audience rose to its feet, clapping solidly for ten minutes. Roger Ebert had sat near me during the screening and when I asked the revered critic, who died three years later after battling thyroid cancer, what he thought of the film, he gave me his trademark two thumbs up. It was a moment that made me feel as proud a South African as if I’d made the film myself.

If you a runner in New York and you’ve ever hit the streets with Bridgerunners, you’ll have seen Power Malu – his hair and big heart make him hard to miss. Seeing him do pull-ups on traffic lights in the middle of the run also makes him a notable character. Aside from being a runner, he’s an emcee and a True Yorker, who has a deep passion for the history of the city.
I met him for a run on the Lower East Side, to find out more about how running impacts his life. Power is part of Bridgerunners and one of my absolute running highlights was hitting the streets with them to celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2014. It was a pure celebration as about 300 of us hit the streets, making those sitting in cafes and bars outside jealous as we ran on by, high on the good vibes and crew love. The influential running group has been instrumental in the Bridge the Gap movement – seeing running crews from around the world pay homage to each other and hang out together all over the world.

For more on Power Malu, follow him here, and for all the deets on Bridgerunners, head here

  
                June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016