Lights, Red Carpet, Photo-opportunities, Movies, Stars, Flat shoes and Controversy. There is no better way to describe the Cannes Film Festival than these seven words. We see the glamour on the big screen and watch with awe as our favorite celebrities walk down the red carpet answering the famous (and probably only question) "What are you wearing?"
When the cameras are on, it's all smiles and laughter. But when the cameras are off, the plot changes. Attending the Cannes Film Festival for a fourth time in a row, gives a perspective where you see the reality as it is instead as through the colored lenses of cinematography. Unfortunately, the excitement and anticipation wear off sooner than expected when Jake Gyllenhaal crossed my path.
Being on the jury on this year's Cannes film festival, the man was everywhere with a celebrity status multiplied by the absence of other stars. Sadly, he refused to take any pictures with fans, even if they were standing right in front of him, begging for one - You don't exactly see a movie star right in front of your eyes every day, do you?
Ironically, this came of no surprise to me after my encounter with Alec Baldwin two years ago at the same Cannes Film Festival where he ran away from his fans, only to have his fans run away from him when they realized who they were dealing with. Walking towards the Carlton Hotel at noon for a quick meet-up before lunch, I witnessed an angry- and according to his own words hungry- Alec Baldwin boldly refusing a fan’s request for a quick selfie. The man may be entertaining in 30 Rock, but without a professional camera running, his mask fell off.
Surprised? I think not. Stopping for a drink at one of the most beautiful hotels in the world – The Hotel Du Cap, my attention turned to Sylvester Stallone within the first thirty seconds I entered the hotel’s bar. Being an expendables fan – who can resist not watching Jason Statham, Jet li, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone in a movie? – Both my sister and I were ecstatic with the opportunity to meet everyone’s favorite movie hero.
Unfortunately, our feet were pulled back on the ground after my sister and I (like everyone in the hotel) were afraid to go one step closer to the star. Remember the saying “Barking dogs don’t bite?” Well, I can personally guarantee that they do bite. Stallone was running forward and back without any sense of direction.
Only later I discovered that Stallone came to present his paintings at a gallery in Nice but didn’t want to accept the reality that everyone came to see a glimpse of a movie star, not his paintings. If you didn’t guess the end of my story yet, we left the hotel without meeting the star, only his bodyguard – who was much friendlier than Stallone himself and will never be paid enough. And if you think my disappointment stopped there – I regret to inform you that you’re wrong. At last year’s film festival, there was one particular movie that grasped everyone’s attention – Foxcatcher. The amazing story featuring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell.
At the day of the screening, I couldn’t believe my luck as the three leading men of the movie (Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo) passed my way as they were entering the visible black Renault Car, the official sponsor of the festival, to head to premier. Being the only one standing near the backdoor of the hotel, I figured there was no harm quickly asking them for a quick picture.
Upon my request, both Steve Carrell and Mark Ruffalo decided to ignore my existence and walk right past me. With a surprised expression of my face, I realized these celebrities had no interest in the people who actually watched their movie. As I was ready to start walking any direction but there, I was met by no other than Channing Tatum whose answer caused a smile from Cannes to Africa on my face as he smiled patiently and said “Yes, of course. Let’s take a selfie.”
Luckily, like in every fairy tale, there is the villain and then there is the hero. And no celebrity beats bestowed actress, comedian and voice artist Nancy Cartwright. Her kindness, grace and attitude left a great impression on me after I met her during a casual breakfast at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes before this year’s closing ceremony.
The long famous voice of Bart Simpson and primetime Emmy award winner knows how to lighten the mood in an environment which is far from it, and does it spectacularly well. Her enthusiasm and pleasure in her job was so contagious, I even saw some of the French citizens smiling in her presence – and that’s a huge accomplishment on its own!
The media portrays a stunning picture of movie stars thanks to social media - the biggest channel of communication of this century. We all dream of getting a glimpse into their lives and wish to be part of their glamorous world. Regardless of the glamour, I’ve learned that no matter your celebrity status, you should always treat people like people.
Call me naive, but when you sign up for a life in the spotlight, it shouldn’t affect your treatment towards the ones around you. When the camera is off, so do the masks. But why should they even exist in the first place? The Cannes film festival may give us a glance of their world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that nothing is picture perfect.
In fact my experience shows that those who can really act behave also the best and have an inner feeling of debt towards their audience. Those who chase an easy life through their celebrity status, act only, and mostly badly, when the director says ACTION.