Timothy M. Gray
5:30 PM EDT, May 14, 2013
If youâre a Cannes newcomer, there are only three things you absolutely need to know: How to converse with the natives, how to converse with festgoers and how to maneuver the parties.
The first two are easy. Itâs that third item thatâll getcha every time.
With the natives, donât forget youâre in a foreign country so âbonjourâ and âmerciâ goes a long way. Itâs as simple as that. They all speak English fluently, but they like the fact that you made an effort.
When speaking to other festgoers, you need only two questions: âWhen did you get in?â and âHow long you here for?â
Which brings us to parties. In Cannes, itâs the films that get all the attention, but the parties are the engine that keep the whole thing moving.
Some Cannes parties are memorable. Most are like Groundhog Day, where youâre eating the same food at the same venue with the same people as last year.
Hereâs the typical scenario. Youâre tired, but you need to make an appearance at the party. So you fight through a crowd of non-industry lookie-loos jamming the entrance, and struggle to get in line with other guests. You finally get inside and itâs too dark, too crowded and too loud, and decide immediately to leave. So you spend 20 minutes trying to find the hosts to thank them, then another 90 minutes looking for your friends to tell them youâre leaving (because itâs too noisy for them to hear their cell phones). But then you run into someone and end up staying another 20 minutes. And if you like that person, you leave thinking youâve had fun the whole time.
Many of the Cannes soirees center around a specific film. But there are also memorable events that donât tie into any one pic.
In terms of philanthropy, you canât beat the annual AmfAR benefit, which is always glitzy and raises money for a good cause.
But the event in 2000 deserves special mention. That was the year that the AmfAR gala was held at the Palm Beach Casino and featured a fashion show with Victoriaâs Secret models showing off skimpy swimsuits, angels wings and, surprisingly, cellulite. In the midst of this, Mylar glitter fell on the crowd that included Elizabeth Taylor and Prince Albert of Monaco. It was a cross between a fund-raiser and Felliniâs "Satyricon." A memorable, surreal evening.
MTV used to throw memorable bacchanals every year on the beach but in 2001, Cannes city fathers declared party noise along the beach cannot be excessive after midnight. So starting in 2002, many party-givers fled to the hills, literally. MTV hosted a few fetes at the jaw-dropping Pierre Cardin Le Palais Bulles.
The pioneer for this was the late "Moving Pictures" magazine (1989-2012), which threw a wingding at Chateau de Napoule, a fascinating castle outside Cannes.
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