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The first official day of the Cannes Film Festival – and already there’s a nice buzz around this year’s fest. There’s a lot of talk about the impact the global financial crisis will have on the festival, and everyone you talk to has a different opinion. Most dreadful of all, is that the annual Vanity Fair party has been cancelled! That in itself is a huge sign that all is not well in Hollywoodland. But my sources tell me there is another party being planned in its place – a little more intimate and a whole lot more exclusive…

To try keep some of the festival shine and excitement, the organizers opted for something a little different in their choice of opening film – the 3D animated Pixar/Disney flick, Up, about an old man who flies away from his home with the aid of some balloons. So all throughout Cannes there were these multi-coloured bunches of balloons to promote the film.

The only major celeb sighting was the soon-to-be-former Mrs Sean Penn, aka Robin Wright Penn, who is on this year’s jury. We are introduced to this is the esteemed group of actors and directors that will decide which film will win the prestigious main prize at the end of the festival – the Palme D’Or. I wonder what Robin is feeling, knowing that this time last year she was accompanying her husband in Cannes while he was the president of the jury and reportedly cozying up to fellow jury member Natalie Portman.

So there may have been only one celeb sighting today but I now have a better idea about more potential celeb spottings. Word is, Mariah Carey is in town, promoting the film she is currently in. So clearly, Glitter wasn’t enough. Oh, and Lenny Kravitz apparently stars alongside her. And get this; the film is produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah. Just have to find out more about that one! Jim Carey’s also going to be in town for his new movie – a Disney 3D special called A Christmas Carol. And much more to come!

Forget Borat, be afraid of Bruno, Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest creation.

Calm before the storm – Cannes the day before festival…

Cannes when the filmgoers have arrived. Spot Charlize!

This year’s Cannes Film Festival poster – what is she looking at?

Back in the South of France again and it feels great!
It’s now down to the wire – the 62nd Cannes Film Festival kicks off tomorrow.
So, just what am I looking forward to most…?

* The possibility of meeting Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aka Denny from Grey’s, also known as cute Irish man in PS I Love You and most recently seen in Watchmen. Jeffrey is teaming up with his PS I Love You co-star, two-time Oscar-winning Hilary Swank for a new movie, which as far as I can understand is about a woman who moves into an apartment without knowing who lived there before – a thriller of sorts. They’re selling the film at Cannes, before it goes into production. I would buy it straight away – of course for the stellar acting abilities of Ms Swank, but more importantly, so I can see Denny again. Alive.

* The Cannes sighting of the Jolie-Pitts – always a star attraction. Last year, on my last day, the It Couple caused quite the stir when a then-pregnant Angelina decided to take her beau and youngest one shopping for baby clothes. Within ten minutes a huge crowd had gathered outside the tiny little baby boutique called Bonpoint, blocking the exit. It was quite funny to see, until I realized I was one of the masses who had my face squashed up against the glass window – just to see which kind of baby bootie Angie picked out.

* Meeting Robert Pattinson – not only is he gorgeous, but he is a singer too. Rob contributed to the soundtrack of the hugely successful first Twilight movie. He’s giving Cannes audiences a sneak peak at the newest installment of the hit series – this one’s called New Moon. Wonder if he’s crooning any songs for this film too?

* Spotting some of the world’s best directors: Jane Campion, Pedro Almodovar, Quentin Tarantino, Lars Von Trier, et al. The festival has concentrated on premiering some new material from top auteur directors to help keep some of the event’s prestige.

The calm before the storm – the Red Carpet sans celebs…

* Hanging out with my “co-stars” from the Bang Bang Club. I’m told Ryan Phillipe, Taylor Kitsch and Malin Ackerman are going to be in Cannes, hyping up the movie as it goes into post-production, before its release around September. I played a journalist (a stretch, I know) in a scene where Taylor, who plays Kevin Carter, has just won his Pulitzer Prize. Memorable, I tell you! Co-incidentally, Ryan’s girlfriend, Abbie Cornish (who spent much time with him while he was filming in SA) also has a film at Cannes. It’s called Bright Star and is directed by Jane Campion, about the love affair poet Keats had.
* Interviewing Quentin Tarantino – the man is a legend, and he holds a special memory in my first Cannes. Mostly because comedian Kagiso Lediga, who had been in Cannes promoting the local film Bunny Chow, had provoked him with some contentious remarks. It ended well, though, as the producer of Bunny Chow managed to calm Tarantino down with an expensive bottle of champers and a copy of the film on DVD.
* Being there as the National Film and Video Foundation celebrates its tenth
anniversary in Cannes. What better time than now to ask: just how much has the foundation done to help South African filmmakers? There has been talk that some of the most recently successful films to be made in SA have had very little, if any, funding from the NFVF – why?
* The anything-can-happen vibe – truly anything can and does. One minute you’re drinking French Champagne, the next Jean Claude van Damme is playing with your hair. Or you find yourself sitting down, catching your breath from dancing, right next to Ivana Trump. Or, if you’re my actor friend Dave Kibuuka, you join a pack of photographers chasing Pamela Anderson down the promenade.
* Getting to know this year’s jury, who’ll be judging the best film for the Palme D’Or, the festival’s most prestigious prize. Last year, this year’s Best Actor winner Sean Penn, was the judge. This year, it’s French actress Isabelle Huppert. Sean’s wife Robin Wright Penn is on the panel this year…wonder if he may be along for the ride too? Wonder too, if those rumours about him and his co-juror from last year Natalie Portman are really true…?

Cannes, you beauty

I’m waiting to board my flight to France. I can’t believe a year has flown by and already it’s time for the next edition of the Cannes Film Festival. I also can’t believe this will be my third time attending the fest – am getting the hang of this! I remember my first year in 2007 and how I was blown away by the sheer number of people involved in the event and the star power it attracted too. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Jake Gyllenhaal, Leonardo DiCaprio were just some of the big names I got to either talk to, or in Brad’s case, wink at. The events happening around the festival are in themselves exciting too. You never know what’s going to happen – or who you could bump into. During my second year, I literally bumped into the (very big) arms of Jean Claude van Damme!

So this year means another festival filled with the glitz and glam that’s come to be associated with the world’s most popular festival. Or does it? Will this year be totally different? Given the current economic global climate, one has to wonder what kind of effect this will have on the grande dame of festivals. Can she still keep her shine when others are losing theirs?

That question will have to be answered when I get there and experience the 62nd Cannes Film Festival for myself. Thanks to Amarula and the French Embassy!

22 April 2009 – Election Day

Singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka gets her ID checked at St Stithians.

Linda Sambo from Grammy-winning group Soweto Gospel Choir at the Berea Rec Centre.
Multiple SAMA-nominee Lira with her inked thumb.

Loyiso queues at Weltevreden Park: “Musicians like uMama Miriam Makeba helped liberate the country so we still have a role to play today”.

Isidingo’s Jack Devnerain and Hlubi Mboya bump into each other at City Power’s Randburg offices.

Hlubi: “I didn’t even know we were neighbours!”
Jack: “I had no idea she lived down the road from me!”

Comedian David Kau comes well-prepared for his queuing experience: “I’ve got a tent in the car in case I need to set up my own voting station…”

Think that’s right. It’s been a crazy couple of days – as mentioned before. Cape Town crazy.

Have lost a bit of my voice, which is not good for radio, but that’s what happens when you try to keep up with Snow Patrol at the Coke Zero Fest. Missioned to Lourensford Wine Estate for the event yesterday. The hour-long drive there was so worth it, though. The backdrop against which some fine bands took to the stage was just breathtaking. When the camera panned across the crowds so that we saw a view of what the artists on stage saw, with the mountains in the background, I thought to myself, this must truly be one of the most scenic places they had ever performed before.

Unfortunately, I missed many of the local acts as I had an interview with Snow Patrol at their hotel. I did get to see the Dirty Skirts and Aking rock out. Heard Cassette and Zebra and Giraffe were on top form. Panic at The Disco played many of their hits off their first album, which has those fabulous little ditties with choruses like “I chimed in with, haven’t you people ever heard of / closing the goddamn door – no!” The diminutive sized band packed a punch.

Oasis were cool enough. And I do mean, cool. Liam Gallagher sauntered on stage and pulled an expression that said, you want some of this, huh? Well, you can’t have any of it. Most of the crowd around me chatted amongst themselves through most of the set – with one guy even relieving himself right there in the crowd, through his cargo pants. When the Brit rockers got onto Wonderwall, the crowd sang in unison. Momentum grew, and the band moved onto Don’t Look Back in Anger and Champagne Supernova. Beautiful.

The darlings of the night had to be Snow Patrol though. They gave everything they had in their performance – just as I heard they did in Joburg. Wow! Lighting, video projections, and most importantly, the heart-fuelled passionate singing of Gary Lightbody. This man wooed Cape Town and had them in the palm of his hands. From the moment the group’s Take Back The City shone up on the screen and the names of all the places they had performed flashed upon the screen – “…and now Cape Town” the band could do no wrong. They played for over an hour – slow-burning ballads, fast-pumping war-cries. With the charismatic Lightbody at the helm of it all. Absolutely LOVED when they did Run and the whole crowd sang the chorus, Lightbody’s face lighting up at the sight. Crack the Shutters, Chasing Cars, and You’re All I Have were other highlights.

Met two band members at the interview – drummer Jonny and the gorgeous Nathan, who seemed to be suffering a little from a cold. Great interview in which they told me their plans to climb Table Mountain and go shark cage diving. Panic at the Disco were also a friendly lot. Spencer showed me photos of the game drive they’d been on – and saw four of the big five.