Friday, May 28, 2010

Better Late Than Never - IFP Producer Fellow Howard Gertler Blogs Cannes


I’d meant to blog from Cannes, where I’d received a gracious Producers’ Network accreditation fellowship from the IFP. But the experience of being out there was like the movie Groundhog Day — wake up at 7:30A to make sure you get to the daily Producers’ Network breakfast roundtables by 8:30A (for a 9A start — the tables are filled by 8:45A), run up and down the Croisette going to, scheduling or re-scheduling meetings, grab a quick bite from the panini kiosks (unbelievably delicious, like ‘wichcraft on every corner), drinks meetings and cocktail parties starting around 6P, maybe see a movie, and converge on the terrace of the Grand Hotel until 2 a.m. or later. Pass out for a few hours’ sleep, realizing that you forgot to blog.
Rinse. Repeat. For 8 days straight.

I’m not complaining, but man, if you’re not there presenting a movie, you need to hustle. The last time I was there was when Shortbus premiered in the official selection, and I could concentrate on one project that occupied my entire time there (it was an equal amount of hustling, but the focus made it a bit easier). This trip was spent reconnecting with old friends and introducing myself and my slate to sales agents and financiers, especially those based overseas.
If you haven’t been to Cannes, then know that there are 2 Cannes overlapping — the Festival and the Marche du Film. The Festival is the opportunity to see what the organizers consider to be the cream of this year’s international crop of auteur-driven films; it is dressing up in black-tie to gain admission to the afternoon and evening screenings; it is Juliette Binoche. The Marche is the opportunity to see what wares are being hawked by scores of international sellers crammed into the Palais next to the Lumiere theater; it’s running around a trade show in comfortable shoes; it is Julie Strain.

The trick is to balance the two. A lot of industry folks just give up on seeing movies during the fest altogether. I felt that I would wither if I didn’t — I needed some sort of spiritual nourishment, and I found it at Mathieu Almaric’s “Tournee,” Cam Archer’s “Shit Year,” Xavier Dolan’s “Heartbeats” and David Mitchell’s “The Myth of the American Sleepover” (ok, I will cop to some sort of laziness by virtue of the fact that I didn’t see many foreign-language films, but I will gladly shell out the $12.50 to see Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s movie when it arrives here).

On the business side, the emphasis was largely on international co-productions. It’s a challenge for US producers, because we’re not a party to a large swath of these treaties. It was productive to speak with folks from places like Colombia and Australia to hear more about their resources, both soft money and location-wise, that make it worthwhile to shoot US-set features abroad.
It was an invaluable experience to get a sense of the international scene, both in the Festival and the Marche; taken together, it’s a global agenda-setter for what you’ll soon see and what’s getting made. But the propriety of a casino situated right next to the Palais wasn’t lost on me.

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