I’ve become the worst blogger on the planet, obviously. Not only do I rarely post anymore, but it took me over a month to finally get this post together in order to regale anyone who will listen with my recent experience at the
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL.
It’s kind of a long one, but I gotta get it all out at once.
So to begin: due to the fact that I live a charmed life (and because I just happened to be going to the right place at the right time, continentally, and because I also happen to have very nice friends), I managed to get myself invited to the Tree of Life when it officially premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a film-nerd/celebrity-whore/name-dropper like me.
Making the trip itself was a lot more difficult than I imagined, but my travel companion and I managed to find our way to Cannes, tuxedos in hand. And after stumbling blindly through the French Riviera, we finally procured what we were told were “the hottest tickets in town, even more so than ‘Pirates‘,” whatever that means.
Until the moment those tickets were in my grubby little hands, I never believed it was actually going to happen. But being in Cannes during the festival is an exciting experience whether or not you are attending any fancy screenings, so I didn’t sweat it too hard.
Unfortunately, my mind is a prisoner of logistics, so rather than anticipating the event with excitement, I mostly worried about how we were going to get to the theater, where we were going to park, how I was going to look in my battered tuxedo, what door we were supposed to enter through, and how I was going to document the whole experience when cameras where expressly forbidden. My stomach was in knots. Subsequently, I took more than my average share of bathroom breaks that day.
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, don’t worry about parking or your scuffed up shoes. Ain’t nobody gonna be looking at your scuffed up shoes and parking is a breeze. You’ll relax more and poo less.
We did a dry run of the whole affair the day before, just to make sure our ducks were in a row, but that did little to soothe my nerves. Then I saw Rob Lowe. Not exactly the high-caliber celebrity-sighting I was anticipating, especially since I find him to be the least-interesting of all brat-packers, but considering the extent to which I’ve been enjoying Parks and Rec lately, it was an exciting enough experience to whet my appetite for the upcoming festivities.
Then on the actual day of the event, we safely arrived at the theater two hours early, which afforded us the opportunity to grab a nerve-soothing martini at the bar across the street. At this point, a drinkipoo was in my belly, my cares were behind me, and I was ready to party.
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, leave time for TWO pre-premiere martinis.
Then it became time to make our way to the theater. The tickets were very clear about two things: get into the theater by 6:40 and be wearing a tuxedo or you won’t be getting in at all, and don’t even think about bringing a camera or you would be duly executed on the spot. So I crotched a camera with very little intention of actually using it, and we headed toward the theater entrance around 6:15.
I had assumed we would be entering the event through the side-door, or some appropriately modest entrance for nobodies, but the signs guided us toward a security check-point which led us down a long walkway which was lined on either side by excited gawkers who were hoping to catch a glimpse of anyone more exciting than me. But I took it in stride and relished in the undeserved attention.
But when we got closer to the theater, we realized we were being funneled onto the red carpet, and I panicked. First of all, I was positive we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and that we were definitely not supposed to be anywhere near the red carpet (and that we were sure to be banished from the event the moment my discount tuxedo breached its border). Second, there was absolutely no one else on the red carpet at the time except for hundreds of professional photographers and paparazzi who lined it on both sides.
My brain immediately went into survival mode, and I thought to myself, “Just look straight ahead, walk fast, and act like you’re supposed to be here. You’ll be inside the theater in no time, and all trespasses will be forgiven.” The empty red carpet looked like it was the length of ten football fields, so I held my breath and took off on a speed-walk — heels up and elbows out — like a middle-aged mom on a treadmill. A few camera-flashes flared from photographers who were probably mistaking me for an ugly version of that Grey’s Anatomy actor, but I was unfazed and resisted the distraction, keeping my speed at just short of a sprint. It was probably the fastest and most determined-looking red-carpet-walk any of them had ever seen.
Finally within the refuge of the theater, we found our seats and sat down to watch the big screen, which depicted a live view of the very same red-carpet I had just left in the dust. It was then that I realized that everyone already in the theater had watched my nervous sprint down the red carpet. I also realized that ALL of the other average joes attending this event were walking down the red carpet. We hadn’t taken a wrong turn after all. And not only that, practically everyone had ignored the no-camera warning, and they were all strolling down the red carpet taking pictures of each other and enjoying the experience like they had no cares in the world.
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, don’t rush the experience and don’t worry about getting kicked out. You can probably hide your camera in a less-awkward orifice. Also: don’t show up so early. That’s what loner losers do.
Once you’re inside, they don’t let you exit the theater, so I couldn’t even try to recreate the experience for my crotched camera. And by that time the really big celebrities were showing up, so the red carpet was off limits. We saw Gwen Stefani (and her has-been rocker husband), Jude Law, Faye Dunaway, Sean Penn, and Brad Pitt. And then Angeline Jolie showed up. The collective gasp from inside the theater was deafening, and she wasn’t even in the movie. It’s like she was hovering two feet above the red carpet. We could only watch it on the screen with stars in our eyes.
When the celebrities finally entered the actual theater, the rest of the attendees went a little ape-sh!t. Everyone mobbed their seats, snapping photos and shrieking with delight. Follow-the-rules-danny was still scared to take out his hidden camera, but after hundreds of people had shoved their cameras into Sean Penn’s face with no reprimand whatsoever, I finally mustered the courage to snap a few quick ones that turned out to be monumentally disappointing, to say the least:
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, forget about bringing a camera after all. You’re too short to get any good pictures anyway.
Pictures or not, I sat in the same row as Angeline Jolie: only 13 seats and one aisle away. Unfortunately, closer to me — in the very next seat, actually — was a tarted-up trollop in a wildly inappropriate dress who was text-messaging for the entire movie, except for when she would pause to roll her eyes and sigh audibly, as if she couldn’t stand having to sit in the theater watching Brad Pitt not take his shirt off.
And then the movie was over and the celebrities exited in a blur of sequins and satin and we were left with an empty red carpet. So we attempted to recreate the amazing experience for the camera, but somehow we ended up with a photo that looks even more fake than if I had actually faked it:
But luckily, we were also invited to an exclusive after party: an opportunity to redeem ourselves and to fully take advantage of the amazing opportunity we had been given! Unluckily, I am a stupid low-class schmuck, and I didn’t realize that anybody who’s anybody doesn’t show up to a Cannes afterparty until 3:00am at the earliest.
We got there at 9:30.
Not that it was a bad party by any means, but we didn’t know anybody there. We had been given eight free drink tickets but we blew through those in 20 minutes and the bar didn’t seem to be taking cash. Every once in a while a celebrity like Jane Fonda would walk in and the crowd would go wild… until he/she was escorted to a prohibited roped-off area never to be seen again.
Worst of all, we had a flight early the next morning, so my logistics-addled mind was starting to seize again. How would we ever get up early enough to catch our flight, what with staying out this late? How long would it take us to get to the airport in this foreign city? What if I couldn’t find a gas station on the way to the rental-car return? They would charge me an arm and a leg!
So at 1:00am, we left the party, pushing our way out through a throbbing crowd who were begging to get in. At that point a sane danny would have thought, “Hey wait, if all these people are desperate to gain entrance to this party, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to leave?” but the real danny was more concerned with conceptualizing a morning schedule that would get them to the airport two hours prior to departure.
The next morning we discovered that all the movie stars arrived at the party around 3:00am, and that the lines between the roped-off area and the general hoi-polloi were probably significantly blurred by then, meaning my one and only chance to rub elbows with Brangelina had come and gone while I was sleeping. Or not sleeping as it were, since I laid awake all night worrying about whether or not the weight of my luggage would cause any issues upon check-in.
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, just plan on not sleeping. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ferchrissakes. Also: you need to learn how to pack lighter. Do you really need all those neckties and that neti-pot?
All in all, we really screwed the pooch with how we handled the whole event. But it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t know what to expect or how to act or what to do or where to go, and frankly, we were a bit out of our element. But still, it was probably the awesomest thing that I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. I got to walk (run) the red carpet at Cannes, after all. But just imagine if I had not been a panicked little worrywort? I could be besties with Brad by now.
Oh well. No regrets are to be had, and if I were to be entirely honest, I would have to admit that it probably couldn’t have gone any smoother.
Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, accept the fact that you are not worthy, and then forget about it and go with the flow. Also: maybe schedule your outbound flight for a couple days later, because you obviously don’t travel well.