It’s all about who you know…..

A couple of weeks ago I was at Cannes Film festival, mostly accompanying my partner, Fred, who was promoting a film he was producer and editor of, and attending the premier of another film, My Feral Heart, which he also worked on (more about that wonderful film in another post).

It was a fantastic experience just being in the city of Cannes for the buzz of the festival alone – the glamour, the excitement, the sunshine, the people I got to meet…. But it was told it would be even better if I could get into the festival itself, so I decided to apply for an accreditation pass. This involves being vetted so that the organisers are absolutely certain you aren’t blagging it and really are involved with the movie business (because when the likes of George Clooney are the other side of that fence and there are networking meetings galore, complete with complimentary drinks, there would probably be a stampede to get in otherwise).

So, with slightly sweaty palms I queued up in order to be interrogated. I had my business card ready and was accompanied by Fred, who could verify that I had worked as a stills photographer on his film. Finally we were invited to step up to one of the windows, where I couldn’t help but notice that the woman next to me was being given a severe grilling, for trying to convince the guy that the person next to her really had worked on her film when she had nothing to show for it. I hoped that they would be suitably impressed by my credentials to save me the discomfort of such an interrogation. I was asked immediately for my business card, which fortunately included a direct link to the film section of my website. I then let Fred, who is French, do the speaking for me in his native tongue.

From my limited French I heard Fred offer to show the gatekeeper my website, but he replied with a smile that it was fine, he already had my website up and was issuing me with a pass – no questions necessary.

“That was easy!” we agreed as we made our way into the hallowed ground. Then I realised what may have helped. The first picture in the film section of my website was a photograph of none other than Gilles Jacob (who was interviewed for a documentary for which I was stills photographer). He just happened to be the honorary president of the Cannes Film Festival!

So I guess you could say that the president himself gave me my accreditation! Little did I know when I was photographing him that within six months I would not only be entering his festival, but also dating one of his fellow countrymen. So, maybe taking this picture proved lucky for me in more ways than one….

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Nice to Know You

It’s virtually impossible to do a blog post on Nice in France without some kind of pun in the title! And in truth I have been getting to know Nice, in spite of the somewhat inclement weather.

My first day was one of those hazy, muggy, dreary, drizzly days. Not with the dramatic kind of rain that suddenly gives way to bright sunshine offset against black skies and maybe even a rainbow for good measure, like a ‘forgive me’ card for having been a bit mean. No, the only pleasure I enjoyed was that lovely essence of damp honeysuckle and roses. Which is great, but unfortunately not something you can photograph! So my late morning traverse up the hillside to look down on the bay – which sounds more interesting than it actually was as it mostly involved just crossing from one side of the windy road to the other, dodging cars careering around the corners – resulted in something so ‘blah’ that I didn’t even bother getting the camera out.

After lunch I decided to give it another shot – at sea level – by walking to the old town and port. My guidebook warned me this would take around an hour, but I had a cunning plan. I would hire one of the ‘Velo Bleu’ bikes from their starting blocks by the sea. This was a bold move by me as I’m a bit nervous about the (so-called) ‘Boris bikes’  back home, but I told myself this would be so easy in comparison – the terrain was flat and I couldn’t possibly get lost when all I had to do was keep the sea to my right. So, I registered my bank card, got my bike and was good to go.

Except now it was raining! But that didn’t matter – a little rain wouldn’t hurt me. Well, actually it could, because I saw not one but two people come a cropper by skidding on the wet surface. I hadn’t realised I was partaking in a dangerous sport….But somehow I made it to the port in one piece and was now ready to lose the bike so that I could explore the old town. I was even feeling very smug because this had all been achieved in less than half an hour, which meant my journey was gratis. Well it would have been, except I couldn’t get the docking screen to switch on to register the bike being returned and lock the bike. I tried every free docking slot but to no avail. So, I had no choice but to get back in the saddle and try another dock – except that didn’t work either. Or the next one. By this point I was practically back to where I started from and wondering just what it was I was getting so terribly wrong. Eventually I swallowed my pride and phoned the help number, and was informed that the docks don’t generally work when it’s raining, only on sunny days! As if I wasn’t being punished enough by the weather, it wouldn’t even let me ride a bleeding bike!

I could see that the woman on the end of the phone was trying to get rid of me because firstly I was a problem she couldn’t resolve and secondly she was tired of trying to give me instructions in her broken English. So, when I saw another person crazy enough to hire one of the bikes I chased him down and asked him how I was supposed to return mine. “Come with me” I’ll take you to a dock that works” he beckoned. And so we peddled together through the old town of Nice and I began thinking how this would be a great start to a romantic novel, until I was rudely interrupted by him swearing upon our arrival at the chosen docking station: “Merde! These aren’t working either!” He then went on to instruct me to just lock it up, note the number and write to them, before disappearing into the drizzle.

So, my bleeding bleu bike was unceremoniously abandoned and my bank card is depleting with every hour because there seems to be no means of writing to them (the form doesn’t work, nor do the texts and there is no email address).

Apart from that hanging over me, things got better the next day when the blue bike was replaced with blue skies. So I promenaded along the sea front, climbed a hill to a park for some great views and revisited the port and the old town on foot. I also had a rendezvous with my French partner who just happened to be passing through Nice on route to the Cannes film festival, where I join him tomorrow. Well you can’t be in France without enjoying a bit of French romance!