Cannes Film Festival May 15-26, 2013
How to do the Cannes Film Festival …without a Badge!
The mythic Cannes Film Festival is an industry-only festival with badges and strict access limits. …There are, however, many ways that the unaccredited can experience the festival, and if you know how, even get in to see films. Here’s the lowdown on star gazing strategies, then scroll down for How to See Films Without a Badge.
STAR GAZING STRATEGIES
Red Carpet: Anyone can hang out by the tapis rouge and watch the star arrive for their competition screening… Get there a little early and walk the Croisette and soak in the crazed ambiance. Dress up a bit and the mercenary tuxedoed paparazzi will rush to shoot your photo. The red carpet roll call of Hollywood royalty starts around 7pm and again at 10pm. If you can’t get up close and personal, no worries, it’s all conveniently simulcast on several nearby jumbo-trons.
After the competition films: Hang out at the barrier near the alley behind the Palais (east side) to see the the stars hobnob after the film as they exit through the back way before leaving in their limos.Late night Cannes: Try the Petite Majestic Bar behind the Grand Hotel, where the drinks are cheap and the crowds take over the streets!
The Grand Hotels: During the festival, entry to the major hotels is restricted to badge only, but you can sometimes breeze in if you look the part, have an attitude, and rudely insist that you are meeting someone in the bar. Warning: if you’re on a budget, a drink at these grand hotels will set you back the price of dinner, but it is THE place to hobnob with the bigwigs.
The Croisette: During the festival, you never know who or what you will see just walking along the Croisette… starlets with paparazzi, the Leopard Ladies, street musicians hoping to be discovered, protesters, banzai film promotions… One year a mustachioed man opened his trench coat at me, and it wasn’t until later when the film came out that I realized that I’d been flashed by… Borat in his man-kini!
The Grand Journal and Les Guingols: This iconic Canal+ French talk show and satirical puppet newscast broadcasts live from the Croisette each afternoon (near the Martinez), and you just crowd around to watch.
Late-night Cannes: Try the Petite Majestic Bar behind the Grand Hotel, where the drinks are cheap and the crowds take over the streets!
HOW TO SEE FILMS WITHOUT A BADGE
Free Movies on the Beach: Every night Cinema de la Plage screens an ‘Out of Competition’ or ‘Cannes Classic’ film on the beach across from the Majestic, and they even provide comfy beach chairs and blankets. No tickets required, just line up early, and if you’re too late for a chair, you can always throw down a towel or perch on the beach wall. Bring a picnic and wine and it’s a lovely way to experience the Festival, but be forewarned, not all beach films are subtitled, so pick your night carefully.
Free Films in the Critic’s Week Section: Critic’s Week is a rather avant garde subsection of the Festival, and dedicated to discovering the next crop of hot new directors. All films are subtitled in English with director Q&A’s after most screenings. Anyone can get a free ticket to the Critic’s Week films if you can just find their unassuming ticket tent tucked away on the sidestreet next to the Miramar Hotel at 35 rue Pasteur. Free tickets are limited, and entry is not guaranteed (badged festival-goers have priority) but the trick here is just to get in line at least an hour in advance. To pass the time, first pop into the Miramar lobby first to stock up on the daily trade papers, or just watch the sidewalk parade which is very amusing in itself. Click here for the 2012 Critic’s Week film list and schedule.
Buy Tickets to Director’s Fortnight Section: Anyone can buy tickets to the Director’s Fortnight screenings for a very reasonable 7€. The ticket booth is to the left of the Mariott (formerly the Palais Stephanie, and before that known as the Noga), and then line up on the sidestreet to the right of the hotel. All the films are subtitled in English, and the first screening of each film features an intro and Q&A by the director and cast. But even with a ticket, you need to line up early (and be sure you are in the right line: Billets). Click here for the list of films and schedule.
Go to the Free ‘Off’ Festival: Cannes Cinephiles offers free screenings of all the Festival films (but not necessarily subtitled) at 3 venues around Cannes: La Licorne in La Bocca, Studio 13 at MJC Picaud, and the Cinema Raimu in Ranguin. These free screenings are open to anyone, not just to people with Cannes Cinephiles accreditation.
Hang out by the Red Carpet and Hope for the Best: If you dress nice and stand around the red carpet zone, you might get lucky and be given an extra ticket. Just know that without a badge you can only get in with a blue ticket, but the more plentiful brown ones will work too, if you are accompanied by a badge holder (interpret ‘accompanied by a badge holder’ to mean that you are standing next to a guy that agrees to say, “Yeah, she’s with me,” at the moment that they scan your ticket.) Evening red carpet screenings include inspection by the fashion police, which means a tux for men, although you can get away with a black suit if you have a black bowtie.
Cannes Residents get Free Palme d’Or Screenings: The city offers 3 screenings the Monday after the Festival to Cannes residents; to get your free tickets, go to the Hotel de Ville the last Sunday morning with some ID and your lease, France Telecom or EDF bill to prove residency.
Plan Ahead: Cannes Cinephile Accreditation: Plan ahead and join a local film appreciation group well in advance (like the Cine Cafe in Nice), then you can apply for a free local film-lover’s accreditation next January and get a coveted badge!
So don’t forget: “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”
EVEN IF YOU DO HAVE A BADGE…
Even if you do have a badge, the Cannes Film Festival can be incredibly complicated for first-timers; it has convoluted rules, non-intuitive organization and can be quite overwhelming. If you would like an on-site orientation/consultation with a 14-year Cannes Film Festival veteran please contact me. I will explain the Festival in’s and out’s, share insider tips and tricks, explain the different rules for the different film sections, secrets for getting red carpet tickets, etc. My references include Impact Films, IFP/NY, and Chapman Film School.
Photo credits: Jean Dujardin on the Red Carpet by Simon Saunders @totallygone.com. Andie McDowell and Red Carpet by Rita Molnar, Hotel Majestic by Patrick Rouzet, Croisette by Bledard92, Masses on Red Carpet by Tangi Bertin, all licensed under Creative Commons. Cinema de la Plage courtesy Nice-Matin. The Treasure of Sierra Madre available through Amazon.com.