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Once upon a time in Cannes... | Bags for Breakfast

Once upon a time in Cannes... | Bags for Breakfast

It is the two weeks of the Cannes Film Festival, and this time last year I was already whisked away to the South of France a week before the festival to frolic around the riviera, lay by the beach, and shop in all the darling little boutiques by the Mediterranean.

Being there in May is truly the best, you escape the busy tourist season, it's not as scorching hot as June or July, and you can sit back on a terrasse and enjoy le mistral, which is the special name the French call the iconic breeze of the summer by the sea.

You all voted to know everything about the Film Festival, so let me tell you as much as I can about all the behind the scenes! But before we even get to France, of course, there is lots to do and because the festival is 12 days long, so there's a lot of planning.

The first thing is to figure out is how long will you be going for. The festival is 12 days, but the majority of attendees do not stay the entire 12 days. Obviously you plan around the film premiere you know you are invited to, but with the access I had, I was also able to attend any premiere or showings I wanted. I knew I was attending the premiere of Stars at Noon by Claire Denis, so from there you look at the rest of the schedule and plan as you wish. I decided to stay for 5 days.

If you do not already know, the Cannes Film Festival is a film competition, with awards. The most coveted prize at the Cannes Film Festival is the Palme d'Or. This award is given to the best film in competition, selected by the festival's jury. Over the years, the Palme d'Or has become a symbol of artistic excellence and international recognition. But there is actually several other categories to the festival other than the films in competition. There's short films, "Un certain regard" for films that almost made it to the competition, documentaries, and out of competition.

Cannes includes a special section called "Midnight Screenings" that showcases genre films, often with a darker or more experimental edge. These screenings, held late at night, are known for attracting a more diverse and adventurous audience.

Another special section that is the "Cinema de la Plage" screenings, where every night they showcased an old film that was premiered at Cannes on the beach and they pass out the traditional Cannes movie snack, candied peanuts. Every evening they cleared a section of the beach to set up, and I actually loved this so much and went to every beach film night, and there are usually fireworks and a party afterwards at one of the beach clubs. On the night of the Elvis premiere, it was also Priscilla Presley's birthday and there was a huge party and performances on the beach.

In addition to the films competing for the prestigious awards, Cannes also screens a selection of films out of competition. These out of competition premieres are actually the most highly anticipated premieres, that attract the biggest celebrities, special presentations, and films by renowned directors. For example, last year Elvis, and Top Gun were out of competition films, and not eligible for any award, but were the biggest premieres of the festival. This year those films are Killers of the Flower Moon with Leonardo DiCaprio, Indiana Jones, and The Idol by Sam Levinson.

On rare occasions, the Cannes Film Festival has screened unfinished or work-in-progress films. This provides filmmakers with an opportunity to showcase their work and seek feedback from the audience and industry professionals before the final version is released.

The Cannes Film Festival is not just about premieres and awards. It also hosts a film market called the Marché du Film, which is one of the largest international film markets where industry professionals, including producers, distributors, and buyers, gather to buy, sell, and promote films.

Also, the premieres for the films in competition are held at the Grand Theatre, which is the main theatre, with the red carpet and paparazzi and all, but there are actually several other theatres, equally as iconic, featuring screenings of other categories, and also screening the competition films a second time.

Now that you know a little more about the festival, let's get into logistics. In terms of accommodations, the festival makes everything really easy for you. Leading up to the festival you receive a lot of communications on updates on when things will be released to you along with instructions, dress code, etc. For example, you have to submit a photo of yourself for your personalized pass and portal. This was honestly a pretty cool part to me, each guest has their own access to the Cannes Film Festival app for guests only, and it's in the app where all the magic of planning comes together.

If you aren't a celebrity or movie star with a team to do all of this booking and coordinating for you, this was really helpful. Through the app you have special access to the hotels along la croisette which ensure festival attendees are able to get bookings even last minute, and coordinate transportation for you. You can schedule everything from the car picking you up from the Nice airport, to the cars that you see dropping people off in front of the red carpet at the Grand Theatre can be arranged through the app, and only those cars have access to the path that is blocked off running along each hotel.

In my opinion, being right on the Croisette is essential for your stay mainly to be able to book the festival approved cars for your red carpet entrance, Uber's do not have access. It is also not everyone who chooses to book a car, there are actually a lot of people simply choose to walk, which you can do as well since the hotels are so close, if not right across the street! I loved seeing others walk up to the red carpet in their gowns, it was really special. I walked over for the second carpet I attended. Now that you have your accommodations booked, let's get into arriving at the festival!

Upon arriving, you have to go pick up your personal pass, and there are certain times in which you have to go pick up your pass once you arrive, and if you are having someone else pick up the pass on your behalf, you have to let the festival know who that person is in advance, otherwise they will not release your access. Once you picked up your pass you're all set for the magic of Cannes!

Arriving before the festival and staying in surrounding areas beforehand is the best choice because in the days leading up to your Day 1 of the festival, the streets are blocked off and controlled where to walk, so you really don't get to benefit from being in Cannes freely as you would sans festival. I purposely wanted go to St Tropez the week before to unwind and de-stress before the festival, because I knew the next 5 days were going to be hectic!

As for instructions and rules to follow, they are all very straight forward except if you do not follow them you will be escorted out and have your access removed and pass deactivated. There is a dress code, even for men, they are are asked to wear only a black tuxedo, navy is an exception if you must. There are no phones allowed, which, have you ever seen anyone on a carpet with a phone? And also, you're going to watch a movie, so there's no phones allowed in any theatre anyway. I actually went phone free the majority of the time because I wanted to just soak in everything and not worry about taking a photo of everything, I just wanted to be in the moment.

It is also important to arrive at the red carpet for the time the specifically tell you to because there is an order in which you walk the red carpet. The cast of the film is the last to walk on the carpet and take a group photo at the top of the steps, and so when they walk into the theatre, everyone else who just walked is already at their seats (it is assigned seating in the theatre) and everyone gives a standing ovation to the cast as they make their way to their seats.

Also prior to the cast who is last to walk, once you are in the theatre they broadcast the red carpet on the silver screen so you get to watch everyone walk the red after you coming in!

For my premiere I was so so lucky, I was seated just a couple rows away from the cast, and it was so unforgettable! The other best part is that after the movie ends, when you exit the theatre, you are able to watch the next red carpet from up close if there is one happening after the film you just watched! So although I was not able to watch the Elvis film premiere, because you are actually not allowed to do two red carpets back to back, they just don't allow that, I was able to watch the entire red carpet for it!

And speaking of the red carpet, walking up the steps is coined as the "Monter des Marches" at Cannes, and it is so stressful. You need to seriously take your time and go one step at a time to not face plant on the steps because you don't really want to look down and actually look where you're stepping because you need to blindly rely on the paparazzi capturing the moment for you and you don't want to have possibly the one photo taken of you be of you with your head looking down at the steps! Also you are so incredibly overstimulated with all the are cameras and lights and paparazzi shouting. My legs were actually shaking in my heels going up those steps, but I just kept smiling and trying to take in as much as possible and look down once I made it to the top.

By the way, the gown you wear is the gown you need to sit in the entire movie! If you are wondering, yes, some people did have to squish into their seats like a cupcake! I'm sure some people do have a little quick change moment or have a part of their dress that is detachable. The festival is super accommodating, personally, I called in advance to have arranged a festival worker have a pair of my sandals before the premiere and be able to hand them to me upon exiting the film to switch out of my heels. I have no idea if other people do this, or if celebrities have their assistants do this for them, but this was honestly the best hack I could have possibly come up with, and was so thrilled that I inquired about setting this up for me because it was so worth it! And I was able to comfortably watch the Elvis red carpet thanks to my thinking ahead!

As for fashion, gowns, and handbags, everything is over the top! You see celebrities dashing in and out of cars at every hotel with people and paprazzi screaming their names, pressed up against the blocked off barriers, models and influencers in the street wearing gowns with personal photographers capturing everything! The photos you see of the red carpet, really do not do the gowns full justice. They really took my breath away in real life, and you are able to see the incredible details and colour and full scale of the gowns.

Additionally, I spotted a lot of incredibly bags, and also a lot of fakes. This was something really shocking at the time before I fully immersed myself in the world of handbags and learnt the magnitude of fakes. It was also shocking because this is a prestigious event, so this really caught me off guard to see quite a number of very obvious fakes at a glance.

As the sun set on my last day of movie magic, diamonds and glam, dancing on the beach, and Elvis shaped fireworks in the sky, I left my fairytale Cannes with such a full heart and made my way to Aix en Provence to decompress, relax and reminisce on the whirlwind of the past 5 days.

All in all, the Cannes film festival was the most amazing experience, and I relive the memories in my head all the time that I know will last a lifetime.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on the Cannes Film Festival, and any questions about the star studded week! 


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