x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

A behind-the-scenes glimpse at Cannes

Peter Scarlet, the executive director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, files another exclusive update from the Cannes Film Festival.

You’ve probably read about the rain at Cannes this year – which gave way to sunshine for two days but has just now restarted its relentless drumbeat. And you’ve seen pictures of the star-studded red carpet events. But what’s it really like to be here?

That’s a tough question, because there are actually several different overlapping Cannes film ­festivals. One comprises endless networking sessions and meetings. Another is for those who live to get dolled up for the two gala screenings each evening, after which they party until dawn.

And then there’s the festival for journalists, festival programmers and industry professionals, for whom the day begins no later than 7am.

That’s because it’s essential to show up at least 90 minutes in advance to be assured of a seat for the 8.30am press screenings in the 3,000-seat Lumière cinema. Shortly afterward, screenings begin in 30 other cinemas around town and they continue nonstop until nearly midnight.

Meanwhile, by mid-evening, a dizzying series of parties gets under way – most featuring deafening music, open bars and hundreds of guests. Even for the early rising group, attendance is mandatory at at least one of these events each evening. The next thing you know it’s 2am and you’re only going to get five hours sleep – again! Are we having fun yet?