How to do the Cannes Film Festival

The Bluffer's Guide

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Words by Anna Smith

Photo: Getty

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What is it?

Only the most famous film festival in the world. The 68th edition runs from 13th to 24th May in the southern France resort.

How do you get in?

For the 19 competition films, like Macbeth  (this year's jury includes the Coen brothers, Sienna Miller and Jake Gyllenhaal), you must be an accredited film industry professional. But there are many gems in the Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight strands and the public can buy tickets to these – arrive an hour before the screening to be in with a chance. Head to the Cannes Tourist Office for free tickets to the Cinéma de la Plage.

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As for premieres, hundreds of hopefuls dress in evening wear and stand outside the premiere venue - the Palais des Festivals with begging boards (eg, Mad Max s’il vous plait). These people are often slightly creepy-looking men in tuxes, so if you’re a glamorous woman then you might have more luck, but it is a potentially humiliating process. You’re better off befriending a badge at a bar – although bear in mind only select accredited industry can score premiere tickets.

Photo: Getty

Business or pleasure?

Both, darling. Many industry professionals will be working hard to sell their films to distributors, and you’ll see a lot of press running around in between screenings, or jostling to get shots of the A -listers. But by night, almost everyone slips into their finery and hits a party or two. Basically, sleep is a thing of the past as soon as your plane touches down.

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Who goes?

Everyone who’s anyone in the film industry – especially if they have a film to promote. This year we’re likely to see Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron attend for Mad Max, and  Marion Cotillard, above,  and Michael Fassbender for Macbeth, and Natalie Portman for her directorial debut in A Tale of Love of Darkness, below.

Where to spot them

Your best chance of seeing a particular actor is to join the crowds outside the Palais before their premiere – be prepared to wait and allow lots of walking time as the human traffic gets ridiculous. But surprise sightings can be had anywhere, from the Croisette (main street) to hotel bars like the Martinez, Intercontinental Carlton , MajesticGrand or JW Marriott, where many A -listers stay. Most hotels require you to have accreditation to enter, however, or at least be with a guest. So your best bet of chatting up Leo is to be invited to a party…

Party time starts at lunchtime, with exclusive lunches for the glitterati in beachside bars such as Martinez’ Zplage, Long Beach and La Plage 45 at the Grand. The next big run start around 6.30pm, when each beach venue hosts a different bash with free booze and great views. Even better, there are the parties on yachts.

The most anticipated events, such premiere after-parties and awards ceremony bashes, start around 10pm and take place in villas up in the hills or clubs on the edges of town.

Access to parties isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s still doable with determination and a bit of luck. Your best bet is to befriend anyone in the industry and go as their plus one, or – if you have a sufficiently impressive job title or imdb profile – ask for the emails of the party organisers and try your luck. If you know anyone who works for a corporate party sponsor, give them a try too.

Blagging it on the door is very unlikely - although one random man managed to waltz into a beach party as our “plus one” last year without us noticing until he was well inside. Obviously we wouldn’t recommend that, but if you happen to have a friend who resembles a famous actor, this can help – a little-known French actress did just that a couple of years ago and made a short film called “Merci Beaucoup Bradley Cooper”.

Best people-watching

Have a drink at the Grand Hotel and watch the world go by – endlessly fascinating.The Carlton Hotel is also crammed with networkers if you can get in (and afford it) while the VIP Rooms club is the place to spot wealthy champagne-sipping jet setters who like a dance. But if the weather holds, the Croisette remains one of the most fun – and free - places to sit in the sun and marvel at the circus before you.

Best parties

Chopard is the official festival sponsor so hosts several glittering events (main one May 19, on a super yacht, of course), while Moët & Chandon  will be the official champagne of the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS 22 Gala,  happening May 21st at the swanky Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.

The Calvin Klein Women In Film party  (May 18th) is always a star-studded affair – this year celebrating the achievements of Rachel Weisz, Isabelle Huppert, Mélanie Laurent, Emily Blunt, and Sienna Miller,  and, finally, The Palm Dog awards – awarded to the best canine performance – are always an amusing antidote to more formal parties if you can get in. 

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