Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's in the Cannes

And that's it folks. Another Cannes Film Festival done and dusted for another year. In spite of all the global financial woes, it was still an eventful festival, with many a deal signed and many a connection made.

A big thank you to Amarula who helped send me to cover the world's biggest and most popular film festival. It really doesn't get any better than this when it comes to movie-making and filmstars. Highlights for me this year include:

* Seeing the strides South Africans are making in terms of getting their film projects and ideas out there into the world. I am particularly looking forward to seeing our own animated feature on the big screen, as well as the 'Spud' movie.

* Sharing a laugh with Robert Pattinson: This guy is such a cutie, but he really doesn't have it all that easy. Wherever he went large crowds of girls followed and screamed their hearts out for him. Speaking to him, I found him to be a really down-to-earth guy who just likes having fun and playing music.

* Bumping (literally) into Joshua Jackson - aka Pacey from 'Dawson's Creek' - he was wondering around the Carlton hotel where his girlfriend Diane Kruger was giving interviews for 'Inglourious Basterds.'

* Being among the first to see Quentin Tarantino's newest film, 'Inglourious Basterds' and witnessing firsthand the passion he has for making films.
* Feeling the magic that descends upon Cannes this time every year - there really is a certain je ne sais quoi in the air. A floral smell envelopes the Palais de Festival which is the hub of it all, and there is an excitement that fills it too. Don't get me wrong, it can be crazy dashing from one place to another and trying to hold your own when 3 999 other journalists are trying to get the same story as you, but it's worth it in the end.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Au Revoir Cannes

Last night I made one last walk down the red carpet for the closing ceremony and last film screening. The jury, headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, came out one by one and sat on stage. They handed out a number of prizes, including best male and female performance, which went to Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Charlotte Gainsbourgh (Antichrist) respectively. I was incredibly happy that Christoph was recognized for his role in Tarantino’s film because he has been the talk of the town as the show-stealer of the film. You have to see see him when the film releases later in the year.

Neither Inglourious Basterds nor Antichrist picked up the festival’s biggest prize, the Palme d’Or. That went to Austrian director Michael Haneke’s pre-Nazi drama called The White Ribbon. I unfortunately didn’t see that one. That’s the problem – it may be a film festival, but you are so busy running around that you don’t necessarily get to see many films.

Christoph Waltz wins Best Performance by an Actor

I went to the closing party which was held by Audi and featured a DJ set by Will.i.Am of the Black Eyed Peas. Apparently Kylie Minogue played at the club, called VIP Room, on Friday. Will is one talented guy – not only does he perform musically, he can also act. His role in Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was fantastic.

Over the course of the weekend the people that I had come to know here in Cannes made their way back to their home countries – Croatia, Germany, the UK, the US and Sweden – and others just headed back to Paris. To end, I think another classic Cannes image is required…

Crowds mobbing Robert Pattinson

Only kidding – this is the true classic image: Cannes, you beauty!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cannes Cares

What a night! I went to the annual amfAR charity event where they raise money for Aids research. When I say 'they', I mean Sharon Stone and her celebrity buddies. But for one moment, just forget the celebs and take a look at this view:

And that doesn’t even do it justice. I feel incredibly lucky to call this the office for my job last night. Hotel Du Cap where the black-tie dinner and aucti
on took place is one of the most exclusive spots in this part of the world. The celebs head out there when they want to stay away from prying eyes. But last night it was the venue for the annual amfAR charity event – hosted by Sharon Stone, to raise funds to HIV/Aids research. The special guest last night was former US pres Bill Clinton but he didn’t walk the red carpet – which was actually black. I think it’s because his security must have been really tight.

However, these stars and more did walk the walk…

Hayden Pannettiere and David Furnish

Liz Hurley

Diane Kruger avec Joshua Jackson

Dita von Teese

Annie Lennox

50 Cent: smooth

Danny Glover

Local gal Charlene Wittstock - who walked away even while I was calling her saying I was from SA, not cool.

I could not believe the shouts and screams that came from the paparazzi to get the celebs to pose in certain ways. These celebs must learn pretty quickly to drown it out because it can get very scary – each one shouting at you to look in his or her direction (yes, the female photographers can be just as rough!)

Oh, and must mention what a sweetie Mike Myers is. With radio it’s usually quite a tough job to get any of the people walking by to talk to you because they mostly go to TV and then straight to the photographers. But as I was trying to lean over while Mike was doing a TV interview so I could get some sound, he grabbed my mic and put it right up to his face so I could get him loud and clear. Finally, a celeb who actually helps me do my job – haha!

I have been really impressed with the South African films that are being shopped around here. 'And There in the Dust' is a short stop-frame animated film looking to become a feature. It's based on the play 'Tshepang', which deals with the unspeakable act of child abuse. The director and producer are here in Cannes because the French Institute of the French Embassy saw the potential and selected the film to take part in Cinema Du Monde, which is the World Cinema section at the International Village. There's also two more traditional animated films in the pipeline that look splendid. One even features the voice of Freshlyground's Zolani Mahola. It seems comedian/actor Joey Rasdien has also been mingling with the right people here in Cannes; so much so that he wants to be walking the red carpet next year for a film he's in...

Joey Rasdien contemplates his next move, with some Amarula by his side.

Today, after an interview with the passionate Quentin Tarantino, I met Damien Rice, my favourite singer. He did the soundtrack to the movie ‘Closer’, among other things, and is dating French actress Melanie Laurent who is in Tarantino’s movie. Now you must understand something: we all have that person in life we are just dying to meet. He is my person. And so, my knees were shaking and my feet could hardly walk on over to him, that's how nervous I was! Damien told me he doesn’t like taking photos because the music doesn’t really come from him so he likes to remain low-key. Or something along those lines. He did give me a hug though and I told him he should come perform in SA for his fans there. At least he knows he has one crazy one there, haha!

Straight after that I bumped into Joshua Jackson - who is just ten times more gorgeous in real life. Something tells me I may suffer from withdrawals when I am back home and not bumping into stars all over the place...

Oh, and for more of my Cannes stories filed for Eyewitness News, click here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cannes' Stars are Shining

What a great press conference for Inglourious Basterds!

Cast of the movie

Eli Roth, Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger and Quentin Tarantino


More Brad - this time closer up

Quentin Tarantino is just so lively and spirited and passionate about the films he makes. And he expresses it with these big gestures and hand movements. Very different to the straight-laced Lars von Trier who won’t say very much about what he does, or why he does it. Brad Pitt provided much banter with Tarantino – when Tarantino explained how much he wanted to work with Brad and the lengths he went to to realize this, Brad simply said, “he had me at hello.” There are snippets of the press con on the http://www.ewn.co.za/ website, under my Cannes feature. The film’s stars will walk the red carpet tonight – and of course everyone is waiting to catch a glimpse of Brad and Angie there together.

Last night I went to a cocktail party for New Moon, the next film in the Twilight series. We got to see never-before-seen footage from the film and it looks good so far. Still heart-tugging. But most importantly, I fulfilled many a young girl’s dream to stand next to Robert Pattinson and share a joke with him.

I picked up my accreditation for tomorrow night’s the big amfAR Aids benefit event. It’s hosted annually by Sharon Stone to raise money for HIV/Aids work and this year’s special guest is Bill Clinton and Annie Lennox will be performing. The rest of the guest list looks great – Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, Emile Hirsch, Elizabeth Hurley, Claudia Schiffer, 50 Cent and my personal favourite, singer Damien Rice. Looking very forward to that one!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cannes I please be Penelope Cruz?

There is so much happening and on the go here, that it really is impossible to keep up! Today the buzz is all about Pedro Almodovar's latest offering, Broken Embraces. It stars the young lass he helped make famous, Penelope Cruz. She was in Cannes last year for Vicky Cristina Barcelona so I've already seen her beauty in the flesh before, but she is still one gorgeous lady. It helps that she wears gorgeous outfits too! Penelope says she's been honoured to work with both Almodovar and Woody Allen whom she worked with last year.

I took part in a radio interview with Radio France International, which brought together some interesting people. Met a young lady from Kenya who is doing some amazing things to get her film to the people. One way is to show a shorter version of it in taxis. I will be chatting to her again to get the full story for Eyewitness News.

I also managed to dash off in time to catch a press conference with legendary director Martin Scorsese about his efforts to restore old films. I asked him about his thoughts on tackling piracy in this day and age and he was busy answering when his business partner steered him away from the question into another topic altogether – but at least I got a question in there before the time was up. Someone tried to ask him about the hush-hush movie he's doing about Frank Sinatra's life, but he would not answer that question and steered himself back onto the topic.

Yesterday Jim Carrey and Colin Firth were promoting their new film 'A Christmas Carol', which is going to be in 3D. There was snow outside the Carlton and a horse drawn carriage! The interviews for that have to be bought by the distributors who are showing the film in the different countries so I couldn't ask Mr Carrey, which of the ghosts of Christmas past he enjoyed playing the most.
Last night the National Film and Video Foundation hosted a showcase of some of the great movie projects that are on the go here in Cannes (link). The offerings sound really great. Read more about them in the EWN report I filed. I am really looking forward to seeing the animated features – one of them has the voice of Freshlyground lead singer Zolani Mahola. Also, the movie based on the hit book Spud that is in the pipeline looks very promising, especially since a big name British actor just perfect for one of the parts has signed on to be in it. Wish I could tell you who but it is a secret!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cannes you say party?

Well, well, well! Just as I predicted, a busy weekend.

It’s a good thing I learnt early on to carry my slip-slops in my bag so I can run around the festival when I need to!

There’s been a lot of buzz around the film ‘Precious’, directed by Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball), that’s here in Cannes, looking for distributors. It’s a very harrowing but hopeful story of a young girl who’s grown up in Harlem and is sent to an alternative school. The film is produced by Oprah and Tyler Perry and Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz both make appearances. Well, more than just appearances actually. Mariah plays a social worker and she’s actually pretty good. I’m sure many people were skeptical after ‘Glitter’, but Mariah showed she can act. In fact, I actually didn’t even recognize her when she came on screen – no make-up, hair dyed dark black and no skin showing. Not at all the Mimi we know! The actress who plays the lead role is a young first-timer named Gabby Sidibe. She’s from America but with a surname like that I have been wondering if she is not South African somewhere along the line. Mo’nique and Paula Patton are also the film. Paula is so fabulous – beautiful, funny, warm and plus she’s married to Robin Thicke.

The Bang Bang Club cast was also in town this weekend – fresh from wrapping the film earlier in the month. Ryan Phillipe was already spotted on Friday night walking the red carpet with his girlfriend Abbie Cornish for her movie ‘Bright Star’. It was great to see him and my other “co-star” Taylor Kitsch. Malin Ackerman brought along her Italian hubby Roberto, who is just so sweet. It’s also great that they were drumming up support for the film even though it hasn’t been finished yet.

With producer Danny Iron, and above, director Steven Silver - the rest you know, right?

Another fabulous party happened last night – and who should show up? But of course, the Party Girl herself, Paris Hilton. She said she was in Cannes promoting “a documentary about me”. Hmmm. Peaches Geldof and Kristin Scott Thomas were there too – think I accidentally may have bumped the Oscar-winning actress while I was on the dance-floor. The very good-looking lead actor in Jane Campion’s Bright Star Ben Whishaw was there too - as was Jane’s 14-year-old daughter. Must be great to come with your Palme D’Or-winning mom to the fest and I imagine she gets treated to all the best parties.

Paris Hilton's boyfriend checking what label she's wearing.

The gorgeous Ben Whishaw who plays John Keats in Bright Star.

Kristin Scott Thomas

This young fella stars in Nowhere Boy and Bright Star, but I couldn't place where I knew him from...then I realised it - he, Thomas Sangster, played Sam in Love, Actually. We loved him in that!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cannes: Up and Away

I am staying on the corner of Dior and Ferragamo - almost literally! To get to the apartment where I am staying I have to see the items in these stores every day. It seems so unfair. Add to that the storefronts of Louis Vuitton and Chanel that I also have to walk past everyday...torturous for a shopaholic!

Things are easing into full swing, preparing for a big weekend ahead. Spent the day sorting out the interviews I have coming up in the next few days. I’ve also been finding out which films are set to cause a buzz here. Filmmakers and producers like to grab your attention at Cannes. Outside one of the “big 5” hotels is a giant Transformers figure. I, of course, tower above it – not!

This poster advertising Quentin Tarantino's new movie, which Brad Pitt stars in had me laughing. I can imagine tons of women walking past, shaking their heads in disagreement!

Apparently Brad and Angie were due to arrive here by now - the It couple just knows how to make the paparazzi go crazy!

Also heard the man who sold his life on ebay is here too - wonder if he is looking for a movie deal...?

Toasting with some Amarula: director John Barker has been selected by Cannes L'Atelier section of the festival to fast-track his next movie.