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We made it! It’s the first day of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, and Sofi and I have been in France for a dizzying and wonderful two days so far.
We spent yesterday in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, a lovely town about 20 minutes from Cannes where my friend Salomé is super generously letting us stay at her Mom’s apartment. I knew things were off to a great start when I found myself standing next to MJ Rodriguez (Blanca in “Pose”) at baggage claim immediately after landing at the Nice airport. She was incredibly kind and elegant — and wearing stilettos — at five in the morning, and I’m truly in awe. I breathlessly attempted to tell her how much I love her and how much her groundbreaking portrayal of a trans Latinx woman of color meant to some of my close friends.
After that edifying experience, the jet lag caught up to me, and I channelled my sleep-deprived furor into some chaotic commentary on the arguably-even-more-chaotic film “Holy Motors.” (Our co-film exec Lanz had encouraged me to watch it in preparation for Cannes’ opener “Annette” by the same director.) It grew on me though, and I’m even more excited now for whatever Leos Carax has in store with “Annette.”
For the end of our first day in France, we took a lovely boat ride with Salomé’s family. The weather was picture-perfect, and Salomé’s grandma made us the best quiche I have ever had in my life. We also got to watch them show off some pretty impressive water skiing skills.
Day two started bright and early at 7:30 a.m. We had to be out of the apartment by eight, so we pushed through the jet lag, chugged the first of many coffees, and ran to the bus stop just in time to barely miss the early bus. Once we finally got to Cannes, we waited in the same (wrong) line twice in a row as we struggled to collect our press badges, get our Covid-19 tests, and ensure that we weren’t accidentally breaking any safety protocols. I dragged Sofi shopping and tried on at least six different pairs of black sandals before I finally found the right ones, then proceeded to drink at least three more black iced coffees as we scoured the area for wifi.
Finally, we got our test results and met up with local-Crimson-celebrity and former Arts Chair Caroline Tsai, who’s now covering the festival as a freelancer for not one but two (three?) professional outlets. Caroline got us up to speed on exactly how to meet Leonardo DiCaprio and avoid the dreaded review backlog, then shared us on her incredible Cannes-masterlist-spreadsheet (it’s truly beautiful). As we waited for the first film of the festival “Annette,” we caught a glimpse of Jessica Chastain (lovely as ever) just a few feet away from us as she entered the red carpet.
I got chills as I finally shuffled into my seat in the Debussy theater and waited for the first film of the festival. I’ve dreamed of being here since I was a freshman, and no matter what the rest of the week holds, today has exceeded my highest expectations. Sitting in a theater surrounded by some of the world’s best (and sweatiest) arts journalists and having the opportunity to add my voice to the hundreds of people who will watch “Annette” tonight, I couldn’t be more grateful.
— Arts Chair Joy C. Ashford can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @joy_ashford.
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