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King of Cannes: Madness, Mayhem, and the Movies cover
  • ISBN: 9780141001470
  • ISBN10: 014100147X

King of Cannes: Madness, Mayhem, and the Movies

by Walker, Stephen A

  • List Price: $13.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Publish date: 05/01/2001
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Description
For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to go to the Cannes Film Festival. Each May, I gobbled up newspaper reports, gossip columns, film reviews, Barry Norman. I, too, swallowed the Myth of Cannes. I wanted to go to the parties. I wanted to watch the movies. I wanted to see the stars. I wanted to climb the red-carpeted steps, all twenty-two of them, arm in arm with a gorgeous actress, caught in the glare of a hundred arc lights, a thousand cameras. This remained an unlikely ambition since (a) I wasn't a movie star, (b) I wasn't a famous director, and (c) I wasn't a hotshot producer. On the other hand, if I couldn't take a film there, I could make a film there. All I had to do was persuade some gullible soul to stump up the necessary cash -- preferably lots of it -- and I was away. Simple as that.

At this point, the BBC came to the rescue. For the last ten years, I'd been working there, first as a researcher, then as a documentary director. I'd recently made a film about a Jewish wedding. It was a success. Then I made one about toys. It was a disaster. This put me in an interesting position on the cash-raising front. I was, in effect, a walking oxymoron. A success/failure. Neither a sure bet nor a certain catastrophe. My strategy was clear: to find an unusual angle, to pitch it with panache, and -- my joker in the pack -- to appeal to the vanity of cash-rich executive producers. Conversations would go like this: Here, at last, was an opportunity to rediscover the roots of filmmaking. To dig deep into the obsessions, the dreams, the ambitions, the madness that lurks in every filmmaker, especially the sort of low-budget, low-rent, low-living filmmakers I was meeting. Thesewere the sort of people who mortgaged their homes (if they had homes), ran up credit card debts of thousands of pounds, sold everything they'd ever owned, begged money off all their friends, in some cases virtually stopped eating, in order to fund their movies. They lived, breathed, slept, dreamt movies. Nothing else mattered.

The filmmakers saw in Cannes the opportunity of a lifetime. Whether they were there to sell an idea, a script, or a movie, it didn't matter. The point was ... to do it. To create an impact. To bang a few heads. To crash every party, haunt every bar, badger every miserable, beleaguered executive who happened to step out of his or her suite at the Carlton Hotel. To pitch in lobbies, lifts, cafes, streets, taxis, screenings, yachts, everywhere and anywhere they could. What emerged was a clash of tragicomic proportions between one bunch of cocooned, powerful, egomaniacal, occasionally corrupt Goliaths ... and this other bunch of Davids: young, hungry sharp as knives -- and squatting on someone else's floor.

The Davids are the heroes of my story. The real Kings or Cannes.

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