Cannes Diary #5: A Step Towards Change

And on the fifth day of the Cannes Film Festival, women fought back.

This festival has always had a tricky relationship with women. In its 71 years history there have only been 82 female directed movies accepted into competition, and 1,688 men. Only two women have ever won the prestigious Palme D’Or - Agnès Varda was given an honorary award in 2015, and Jane Campion won for ‘The Piano’ in 1993. But Campion actually shared the award with a male director, Kaige Chen, who won in a tie for ‘Farewell My Concubine’. This year, there are three women in competition - Eva Husson, Nadine Labaki and Alice Rohrwacher.

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Cannes Diary #4: Survival of the Film-iest

As soon as I opened my eyes, I knew my theme for the day would be: survival. I was in one of those deep sleeps, the kind where you lie so hard on your arm it hurts when you wake up. I don’t know anything about REM cycles, but I must have been in the part of it where your alarm shouldn’t go off. Because even though I’d had enough hours of sleep, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

I grabbed two coffees on my rush down the Croisette, peering at the beautiful sparkling sea underneath my sunglasses. It really is gorgeous here. The blue water, the white sand, the glamorous people who look like they could either be on their way out or coming back after a night of partying. In my years at Cannes, I’ve only been to a handful of parties. Who has time, I always wonder, when there are so many movies to watch?

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Cannes Diary #3: Vive La Résistance!

My first mini rebellion came in the form of the snooze button. I had planned to wake up at 6:30am, to get myself decent and walk to the Palais des Festivals in time for the 8:30am screening of ‘Leto’. But feeling like breaking my own rules, I did the devil horn thingy with one hand and reset my alarm with the other. I would go to the 11am screening instead.

Ok, so I may not be totally punk rock, but ‘Leto’ sure was. Based on a true story, the film (the English title being ‘Summer’) is set in Leningrad in the 1980’s. It follows two bands, one upcoming and one more established, who are trying to make their mark and find their voice in the Russian underground scene of rock n’ roll…

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Cannes Diary #2: F for Film (and French)

Every time I come to Cannes, I am determined to speak French. I studied the language back in 2010, before spending a month in Paris. A month where I bumbled around town, but remained upbeat about it. I got myself into all sorts of faux pas… such as the time I told a strange man in a park that I loved him. But even though I’m not good at speaking French, I do enjoy the challenge. I also like the way I’m much more decisive and “in the moment” in this language, being that I can only speak in short sentences and present tense. “I would like a coffee!” I exclaim loudly to a startled waiter in a café. “It is raining,” I remark to a lady on the street, in what I hoped was a thoughtful tone, as if I was contemplating the deeper meaning of water coming from the sky.

It did rain a little as I rushed off to see ‘Everybody Knows’, the opening film by Asghar Farhadi. I commenced my usual morning routine of walking as fast down the Croisette as my legs could carry me, whilst shoving a croissant in my mouth and scalding my tongue with coffee…

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Cannes Diary #1: Yes We Cannes?

After a relaxing two days sipping rosé in Provence with a good friend, it was a shock to my system to arrive in Cannes. The film festival brings a hustle and a bustle to this normally sleepy tourist town, with mopeds whizzing past the limo drivers who are battling traffic on their way to the red carpet. Critics try to squeeze around dawdling tourists on the sidewalks to get to their screenings on time. And street sellers are peddling selfie sticks right outside the red carpet, despite this year’s rule of no selfies sur le tapis rouge, merci!

Over the six years I’ve attended the Cannes Film Festival, it’s been fascinating to watch how it moves (or doesn’t) with the times…

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Behind The Scenes of the FilmStruck Podcast: Lynne Ramsay

I was at a party over the weekend, when talk turned to my job. More specifically, who I have interviewed. This is a subject I am more than happy to talk about, and I never mind answering the usual questions: My favorite person to interview? Robert Redford, who I grew up watching, and never thought I’d meet. He liked my tattoos. Someone I’ve wanted to interview but haven’t? Martin Scorsese. I was in an elevator with him once. He was wearing a hat and had his coat collar popped, as if undercover, so I didn’t disturb him.

But then, there was one question I hadn’t been asked before. “Who has surprised you the most?” That made me think, sending the invisible librarian in my brain to climb the sliding ladder and search wildly through my memory books. Perhaps it was Darren Aronofsky, my first guest on The FilmStruck Podcast...

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Behind The Scenes of the FilmStruck Podcast: Rian Johnson

The first time I met director Rian Johnson, he took a photo of me. This is not unusual for Rian, who documents his work life in a series of single snaps, including the press waiting to talk to him at Comic-Con in 2012. Actually I think, because I have no shame, I said to him, “Are you going to take a photo of me?” And then posed, ready for my moment.

To look at the photo now, I see a girl who was trying to find her place, wanting to fit in…

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The Sundance Difference

The word I’ll use to describe the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is: different. Now I don’t mean “different” in a politely negative way, such as when I ask a friend about my outfit and they reply with, “It’s… different.” No, I’m using it as in: change, growth, new. The mood at the festival was different. I felt different. And the perspectives on screen were mercifully, different.

I’ve read articles about this Sundance being weak or lackluster, but I didn’t feel that. Maybe for buyers, but not in terms of the films themselves. The festival remains a refreshing start to my year thanks to the wide variety of perspectives shown on screens. Overall, 13,468 films, indie episodics and VR projects were submitted to the festival, with 122 feature films making the cut. Out of those movies, 53 were by first-time filmmakers, and 37% were directed by women. It’s a contrast to the rest of the yearly fare delivered by studios, where 96% of the 100 highest grossing films are directed by men.

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Sundance 2013: Diary of a Broke Film Lover

This is a story I wrote in 2013. At this time, I was sill fairly new to Los Angeles. It was my second Sundance Film Festival and I was determined to go, even though I had no money. As Sundance 2018 starts today, I though it could be fun to share this and show how far I've come. Don't give up on your dreams.

Before: The Cold Hard Truth
I held my breath as I logged in to my banking website and prayed that somehow this time would be different. That something may have magically changed in the past thirty minutes since I last checked. The page seemed to take an eternity to load, taunting me with its financial verdict. And then, there it was. The inescapable truth. I had 24c in my savings account. Savings. That word mocks me. I have none. 

This is the glamorous life of a freelancer. A freelancer who is leaving tomorrow to the Sundance Film Festival for a week with only a quarter of a dollar to her name.

At this point most people would cancel their trip. But of course, I am not most people. I am a special breed of crazy. A film geek who revels in sitting in the dark and watching movies and isn’t about to let financial ruin get in her way. And after two years hustling to make it in the big bad city of Los Angeles, I’ve become extremely resourceful. So, trying not to think about the worst case scenario, I got to work asking if anyone had a patch of floor I could sleep on.

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Little Black Dress

On the first morning of 2018 the most influential women in Hollywood took out a full page ad in the New York Times. This formed the announcement of the Times Up initiative, where 300 actresses, producers and directors signed a joined statement to try and put an end to sexual harassment. The long list of names included powerful voices such as Rose McGowan, Shonda Rhimes, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Ava DuVernay and Eva Longoria. And importantly, the ad stated their intention to try and help women in blue collar jobs where it’s even harder to speak up against sexual assault.

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Do Less, But Better

For the last few months, I have been suffering from a series of illnesses. It all started with a migraine. A migraine that saw me throwing up into a bin on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard during peak hour in front of a very concerned valet man. All I could think at the time was, “Oh no! I’ve done it in the recycling!” But I suppose technically… I was recycling. 

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