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The Cannes Diaries: My Week with Marcello



I dubbed this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “My Week with Marcello” because I usually cover Cannes until the end of the 12 days, when the Palme d’Or is handed out and the last film is shown at the Grande Theatre Lumiere, but this year, due to to a cosmic forces beyond my control, I had to leave halfway through. So I only had a week spent in the south of France, with Italian film star Marcello Mastroianni’s sunshaded-portrait providing the backdrop for this year’s fest.

Of the films I did see, my three favourites were: The Salvation, a co-production between Denmark and South Africa, in which Mads Mikkelsen plays a vengeful cowboy and a farm just outside Johannesburg plays the Wild West in which he exacts his revenge upon Jeffrey Dean Morgan; Turist, a Swedish film that follows a family on holiday in the alps when the father runs away during a would-be avalanche, and Foxcatcher, from the director of Capote, Bennett Miller, comes three fantastic performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in this based-on-a-true-story film.

In honour of the film Mastroianni made with Federico Fellini, 8 1/2, which is where the still shot for the poster comes from, and as tribute to my 8th Cannes Film Festival, here are my personal top 8 highlights from this year:


1. The Gloria sing-a-long in the car led by Marion Cotillard in the movie Two Days, One Night, directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne – a light moment in a moving film about the economic crisis, in which the filmmakers, through the Oscar-winning actress, show the very real human side to being laid off.

2. Seeing Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (known for Casino Royale and the TV series Hannibal) as a vengeful cowboy in The Salvation, a co-production between South Africa and Denmark, and interviewing him about shooting the film on a farm just outside Joburg.

3. At the How To Train Your Dragon 2 party, Djimon Hounsou and I going up to the DJ at the same time to request he up the tempo a little. Neither Djimon nor I were successful in our attempts, but it did give me something to talk to the actor about just before our interview the next day about the second installment of the lovable animated film.

4. Seeing South African-based animation company Triggerfish returning to Cannes, after first meeting the team during my first festival – and theirs – in 2007. Now, they’re represented by the powerhouse talent agency, WME, and have two successful films, Khumba and Zambezia, under their belt, both of which just opened in France and China respectively, and in the top ten of those countries’ box offices too.

5. Dashing into Belliard Bakery on Rue Chabaud for my morning pain au chocolate on the way into the day’s first screening. And then running along the Croisette on a rainy Monday morning with The Times’ Kate Muir, a film journalist and critic whom I discovered shares a love of pavement-pounding too. I may not have worked off the calories from a week of eating pastries but it was a beautiful stress-reliever.

6. Geeking out – just a little – over the all-star cast of The Expendables 3 riding around in tanks ahead of a press conference to promote the film. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Ford, Banderas – listening to their stories was a Sunday morning well-spent.

7. Dancing with South African filmmakers and producers at the National Film and Video Foundation’s annual SA networking party to the track Pluto by DJ Clock featuring Beatenburg. It brought a wave of homesickness over this New York-based journo.

8. Reuniting with friends from all over the world, made over the years of attending Cannes: Poly from Greece, Andrea from Italy, Stevie from China. Yes, Cannes is about the stars and the celebs, but we share a love of cinema and stories, and they make the work easier to handle – because although it is fun, writing stories, filing news pieces, putting together features and staying awake through early morning and late night screenings can be a little weary for even the most enthusiastic among us.

Triggerfish Animation's Stuart Forrest and Jean-Michel Koenig at the SA party.
Triggerfish Animation’s Stuart Forrest and Jean-Michel Koenig at the SA party.

The last half, in honour of Fellini’s movie, I’ll give to my having to leave halfway through. It felt like leaving a movie before it ended; I didn’t get to see Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River, which apparently earned both boos and applause, and I didn’t get to see Mommy, by 25-year old Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, which earned cries of “Palme d’Or!” by many. I won’t complain though, because at least I got to go.

Half a Cannes is better than none.


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