The buzz about a must-watch film travels fast in Cannes. On day 3, Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s new film Neruda premiered as part of Directors’ Fortnight. Word got out that it’s a fantastic film with some festival programmers even saying that it’s the best film in the festival so far.
For the second screening at 5 pm on the same day, the line snaked around the block. I stood, hopeful, for 40 long minutes before being turned away because not a single seat was left in the theatre. It was incredibly frustrating but also heartening – clearly a director in form finds audiences instantly.
I did manage to see French director Bruno Dumont’s Slack Bay and British director Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. Both films presented distinctive visions of the world.
One was a stylised, surreal black comedy while the other was a heart-breaking portrait of the struggle to survive on welfare in the UK. The general consensus is that this year the festival selection is solid. So far I haven’t heard about any instances of booing.
Cannes is the only place where I develop a genuine sense of FOMO – ie the fear of missing out. Because only here is this fear, an actual reality – because no matter how much you can squeeze in, there will always be something important that you are missing out on. Between films, meetings and parties, there isn’t a moment to breathe. Lunches and dinners are consumed by networking events and the night is reserved for parties. The hottest ticket in town on day 3 was China Night.
A crowd gathered at the entry point where burly security guards hastily checked e-invites on phones. Inside a lavish spread of food and drink awaited guests. Over the years, the Chinese parties have become bigger and splashier. And more crowded since everyone desperately wants to be in business with China. It was too noisy to talk but we all feverishly exchanged cards in the hope of some future transaction.
The highlight of day 3 was Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, resplendent in a gold gown, on the red carpet. She’s been coming to Cannes for 15 years now but the French show no signs of Ash-fatigue. She is, still, every inch, a world-class star.
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