Cannes 2014: Catharine's blog

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Catharine Des Forges

Categories: Festival Reports


Get to the boarding gate with one minute to spare and after realising I’ve forgotten my headphones, reflect that my air travel skills are a bit rusty. As I’m not able to block out all my fellow passengers’conversations, I have to endure very loud film industry inanities for the next two hours…anyway! On to Cannes after we are fortunate to hitch a lift with a sales agent friend which feels very luxurious when you are used to taking the bus.

Preparations are afoot for the ICO party – our lovely contact here has played a blinder on location – its a beach! In Cannes! It’s our 10th birthday and having a party on the beach is not something I envisaged 10 years ago when we first set up the ICO. Its lovely to see so many old and new friends, both from the UK and internationally: lots of exhibitors and distributors, funders, film festival friends and alumni from Developing Your Film Festival. Geoff Gilmore from Tribeca and formerly Sundance drops in hes our keynote speaker for Developing Your Film Festival 2014 and excited about coming to Croatia as he has a range of family connections across the region.

Our lovely friends from Vilnius Film Festival are here and invite us to their reception the next night. In all my excitement and paddling in the sea I forget to go to the Spandau Ballet party and thereby miss the opportunity for a live performance, although I learn later they don’t do Chant no 1…shame.

Geoff Gilmore
Geoff Gilmore of Tribeca Film Festival with Catharine and Simon at our 10th anniversary party in Cannes


Next morning is time for National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman – this is classic Wiseman, a series of nuanced, skilfully edited vignettes of an institution and its inhabitants which includes some great cameos from fantastic curators as they introduce paintings in the collection to the general public. I am surprised by seeing a former colleague from the London Children’s Film Festival in the film which makes it seem even more familiar, but ultimately it makes me want to visit the gallery again which has got to be a good thing. I manage to get into Run in Un Certain Regard, at the Debussy, a slightly strange French/Ivory Coast film which focuses on civil conflict in the African country. It’s well done; it has some random narrative mis-steps but looks very handsome. Lunch is followed by meeting Becky as we go to have meetings with the European Audiovisual Observatory and Tallinn Black Nights Festival to talk through various potential collaborations connected to Developing your Film Festival.

After dinner I go with Simon to see Welcome to New York, the new Abel Ferrara based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Stars Gerard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset as well as Ferrara are present – there is something still about Depardieu from his pre-Putin, Jean de Florette days that exudes charm and charisma, every inch a film star. He looks thinner in real life than in the film which is a less than flattering portrayal of Strauss-Kahn. I find it profoundly depressing in terms of its depiction of women and sexual violence, although that’s not so surprising given the directors pedigree; more depressing is the audience reaction which greets most of the film with laughter regardless of whats happening onscreen.

Welcome to New York
Gerard Depardieu channels disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Khan in Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York

We go to the Vilnius Film Festival party which is much more pleasant and meet a former colleague from the CICAE course in Venice which is nice. The Lithuanians know how to make a cocktail but unfortunately I don’t know how to drink one anymore…

I end up at the Petit Majestic at 4am reflecting that there’s life in the old dog yet!


Now this is Cannes, bright sunshine and horrendous queues!  Today is much more like a regular Cannes trip – I queue for two films for an hour and don’t get in – its all part of the experience! I go to the British Pavilion and have a chat with a friend – they are getting ready for a production event and it’s busy with hungry filmmakers and producers. Time for lunch with Simon who has also had a few queuing nightmares despite his far superior pass. I’ve passed on a ticket for the red carpet screening of The Rover so time to depart, very short and sweet this year but as always thoroughly exciting and vibrant.

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