We have a friend who works in distribution and promotion of French films around the world. Every year he comes to the Cannes Film Festival and every year he tries to get us tickets for a black tie, red carpet première. Here’s the story of our first time.
The said friend, J-C, rang at 5pm (on a school night) to say he had two tickets for a film at 11pm and could we go? We’d have to be there by 9pm to have the whole experience so I had about 3 hours to find a babysitter, feed the kids, supervise homework and transform myself from gîte-running, winter-fuzzy mum to something approaching bare-legged red-carpet glamour. Not easy!
The gîte had only been functional for a month and as luck would have it I’d lent my hairdryer to the guests as I hadn’t got around to buying one for the apartment yet. No hairdryer meant seriously bad hair on an evening when it really mattered. But I rose to the challenge, this was an opportunity not to be missed particularly not for the sake of a hairdryer. J-F’s dinner jacket, tailor made in Hanoi for our wedding 13 years before smelt a little musty and pinched a little at the waist but this wasn’t going to stop us either. We made it, arriving in time for a drink with J-C and for J-F to borrow his bow tie, and we walked up the red carpet with the papparazzi’s flash bulbs popping away. We milked the occasion; we posed, we smiled (make that beamed), we took our own photos, we took as long as we could and I didn’t trip in my heels! On a monté les marches!
The seats in the auditorium were super comfy and J-F slept throughout the film. But it wasn’t about the film for us, it was about the red carpet – les marches – it was a truly glamorous occasion.
Less glamorous was my experience of hosting a film producer at Lou Messugo who was participating at the Festival. V came from the Ukraine. He didn’t speak a word of French and barely any English. The Russian I learnt for a year 25 years ago wasn’t exactly flowing either! He had a handful of nouns and with his direct style of speech there were a few cultural misunderstandings particularly in his interpretation of “self-catering”. “Food” he said, demanding meals. “You clean” he said pointing to the muddy footprints he had trodden throughout the gîte. Every night he sat out on the terrace drinking what we thought was vodka but it turned out to be Calvados. This classic French spirit was made for export to Germany (the label was in German) bought in Kiev airport (deduced from the price sticker) and being drunk back in France. What a convoluted route this particular bottle had taken and how it would have been about half the price in the local supermarket made us laugh!
V used every single utensil in the kitchen, every glass, every plate, all the cutlery and didn’t wash up a thing. When he left I found 5 days’ worth of dishes covering every surface, not even the leftovers were scraped into the bin. There was a very ripe camembert oozing out of its box onto the table and bowls of pasta, omelettes and salads heaving in the heat. But possibly the most impressive thing was that he’d used up a whole salt cellar that was new and full for his arrival!
We could barely communicate and let’s face it his house-keeping skills left a lot to be desired but he makes a good story and we’ve dined out on him for over a year now, he’s made us laugh and I love that I’ve hosted a Ukrainian film producer. He clearly enjoyed his stay and took loads of photos of us with the infamous last words “Facebook” (said with a thick Ukrainian accent!)
I wonder if J-C will get us tickets again one day? I’m on standby each May! And from what I’ve seen on Facebook the film V was trying to get financing for is screening at a prestigious festival this year. I’m delighted for him!
Have you ever been on a red carpet or to a similarly glamorous event? I’d love to hear your stories.
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