1 EXT. A BEACH IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE – BRILLIANT DAYLIGHT 1
Beach bathers lounge on towels and frolic in the sea from the CROISETTE, the boulevard in CANNES that arcs along the bay and fronts the PALAIS where the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL is held. Clear blue sky. SOUNDS OF SURF AND PLAYFUL BATHERS.
The year was 2010. The time: the month of May. The location: Cannes, the capital of the film world – the height of glitz and glamour, on the shores of the Mediterranean. It was also the great stomping grounds into which all the movie stars, film peddlers and critics gathered to feast at the fest.
The SURF WOOSHES audibly, as the focus shifts to the CROISETTE and the swarms of people gathered along some barriers just outside the RED CARPET on the steps of the PALAIS, POLICE are keeping people behind the barriers.
I had come to Cannes the past two years, this was my third trip, to find films that could not be found anywhere else. I had hoped to discover riches and settle into my normal routine – a nice, steady diet of films. The life I found was anything but nice and steady.
We zero in on the MAN as he makes his way through the barriers and into the PALAIS. Throngs of people are trying to get through SECURITY GUARDS with METAL DETECTOR WANDS producing dozens of CHIRPS as they are being passed over the stampede.
And that had everything to do with one thing. My partner, my burden...
The MAN exhales and, with arms outstretched for the METAL DETECTOR WAND, gives the impression that he knows something that we don't.
... MY YELLOW BADGE.
WHAM! The MAN with the YELLOW BADGE is KNOCKED ASIDE by A RUNNING MAN with a WHITE BADGE (which provides greater access), sending him and his BAG reeling and struggling to maintain balance.
The RUNNING MAN looks back in derision, but keeps moving forward without hesitation to the giant THEATER screening films in the PALAIS. The MAN with the YELLOW BADGE just looks forward with resigned dejection.
Hope you find a seat!
The MAN just SCOFFS and makes his way to the THEATER. Inside are ROWS OF SEATS that climb up and back into the distance. There is a GIANT MOVIE SCREEN on a stage. As the MAN makes his way, he is forever being directed up many flights of STEPS as the USHERS spy his YELLOW BADGE and direct him to the back of the THEATER.
(to an USHER) Excuse me, but do I really have to keep going this far back?
The USHERS keep saying “oui” along the way. The MAN finally finds a SEAT that looks down on the SCREEN, which is far below. But since the SCREEN is so large, it still provides an impressive visual experience. As the MAN stands and peers down at the SCREEN —
— he nearly tumbles forward as other CRITICS push by him to get to the other SEATS in his ROW.
2 INT. THEATER — CLOSEUP OF THE MAN AND THOSE IN HIS ROW 2
Inside. Big, 3,000-seat THEATER – a film is showing on the GIANT SCREEN. People are watching the FILM in the ROW with the MAN. One WOMAN fidgets in her seat just half way down the ROW from the MAN. She gets visibly irritated and impatient as MUSIC AND DIALOGUE from the FILM echoes throughout the THEATER.
The WOMAN finally gets up and struggles to make her way along the ROW to exit, forcing all in the ROW to stand up and let her pass, including the MAN, to audible RUSTLING, WHISPERING and MURMURING.
The FILM ends and the MAN is jostled by the others in the ROW hastening their exit. The MAN struggles to maintain balance and composure.
The first film of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival has just ended and everyone is scrambling to get to the next screening, or a press conference, or a café for a coffee, or to find some food somewhere. There are 19 films in competition for the grand prize, 19 films in a side competition, and dozens more in other programs. All of this in the span of 11 days. No wonder everyone is stressed and frenzied.
3 EXT. THE CROISETTE OUTSIDE THE PALAIS - NIGHT 3
Throngs of onlookers are gathered along the CROISETTE behind barriers and blocked by POLICE as THUNDEROUS, PULSATING MUSIC booms from LOUDSPEAKERS and an ANNOUNCER introduces the STARS making their way up the RED CARPET to the PALAIS and into the THEATER. Large SPOTLIGHTS are arranged on SCAFOLDING that shine down on the RED CARPET, STEPS and STARS. FILM CAMERAS on CRANES swoop down, around and over the STARS.
On the RED CARPET among the STARS, thousands of CAMERAS create a strobe effect from their flashes while the light sparkles off the DRESSES and JEWELERY of the CELEBRITIES as they slowly make their way up the RED CARPET turning to pose and smile to the PAPARAZZI.
WE PULL BACK to see the MAN struggling on tiptoes to glimpse the action on the RED CARPET behind the barriers and the throngs of ONLOOKERS. The MAN pushes his way to a SECURITY GUARD.
(shouting over the din) Excuse me, but can I get a closer look?
The SECURITY GUARD seems at first not to notice the MAN, but eventually turns his attention to him and glances down at his YELLOW BADGE and simply shakes his head “no” and resumes looking at the activity on the RED CARPET and surveying the CROWD.
4 EXT. ALONG THE CROISETTE DOWN FROM THE PALAIS - NIGHT 4
The MAN, dejected, now walks through the crowd and makes his way down the CROISETTE. All along the BEACH are WHITE TENTS set up for swanky parties. MUSIC and CROWD NOISE can be heard emanating from the TENTS bathed in COLORED LIGHTS.
The first night of the festival comes to a close. It is nearly midnight and there are still films showing and the revelry shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a non-stop cavalcade of decadence and delights.
PRE-VISUALIZATION IN VARI-SPEED
FOCUS ON the spot over the MAN’s right shoulder. The MAN walks down from the PALAIS along the BEACH with the MOON casting a glow, and we ramp from 24 fps to 400 fps (ULTRA SLOW MOTION) as he continues to walk in the MOON-LIT night with the activity buzzing all around him.
Even with the access limitations of a yellow badge, the Cannes Film Festival is a magical experience for cineastes. Sleep is not an option.
Award-winning film critic Doug Young has covered the Cannes Film Festival for The Colorado Statesman for the last three years.