The Cannes Film Festival

A short one-shot about the Cannes Film Festival.
"Glitz, glamour, and dazzle: is the Festival de Cannes all it's cracked up to be, or is it just a myth?" --Press 2013.
"I can't stand it in here. There isn't a moment to breathe." --Tim Burton.

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1. The Cannes Film Festival

 

It feels like drowning, to be honest. Tipping over into this endless abyss, falling backwards into this consuming black hole, where looks are emphasized and intelligence is non-existent – well, almost. So that suddenly, when someone waltzes in wearing jeans and kicks, and speaks a bit of her mind for two seconds, everything becomes so impressive and exciting and intriguing, just because it never happens – well, almost.

And there’s all this lazy time spent doing nothing, hours on end of chat about absolutely nothing hey john how are you? oh you know, market’s rough. ah yes, we met at the phoenix convention! here, let me give you my number, and if anything comes up that you think might be of value, give me a call… And it all doesn’t mean anything; it’s all the same. A track on repeat, spinning over and over, because it’s broken, really.

“I can’t think of anything worse,” you interrupt, with a serious smile on your face. It’s this little oxymoronic look – a cross between playful, and meaningful.

I nod at you. (where have you come from?)

Jenette steps in and shakes your hand. “Jenette Bradley, Lionsgate Films.”

You take her hand, shaking it lightly, “Ben. Just Ben.”

And you don’t ask for my name, or question my presence, you just carry on this conversation with Jenette, nodding here and there, looking off into the distance, at the bar behind us, when she drags on, suggesting a deal, or praising your work. But the whole time there’s this little understanding between us, like we’re bored of this mind-numbing life, where there’s no time to live.

And I like that, that you don’t ask for my name or what I do or who I work with, or whatever the hell, because you don’t care – and I think you like it too.

You excuse yourself mid-sentence, “I have to go to the bathroom, sorry.”

Jenette fumbles with her bag, “Take my card before you go” but you’ve already disappeared into the crowd.

She holds out the card in despair, sighing at me. “Well, that was a bust.”

And I feel like shoving her off, telling her to give it a rest for a minute, already but instead I just nod at her lifelessly and head for the bar to get another drink. It’s like drowning, really.

“Gin and tonic, double, please.” The waiter nods at me, carrying five other glasses.

“Hey,” a familiar voice calls. I look to my side. It’s Ben, Just Ben, holding up a whisky on the rocks.

“Hey,” I answer. There’s an awkward silence for a few seconds, before I say, “So, the bathroom, huh?”

You smile, shaking your head. “I just had to get away, really. It’s like she was…” you make a flailing arm gesture, “buzzing in my ear, you know?”

I know. You pause for a minute, trying to gather your thoughts. And then you gesture at the lights, and the music, and the mingling, and the clinking of glasses, and the cards. “The whole thing, it’s like. It’s like…”

“Drowning,” I finish, looking up at you.

You eye me curiously, your lips slowly curling up into another serious smile. “Yeah, it is.”

And we share this moment, just kind of looking at each other, taking everything in, before the waiter hands me my glass.

“Oh, thank you.” I take a sip, enjoying the little jolt it gives me, that little edge I need to power through, to stay awake.

You observe me, your eyes narrowing. I can tell, you’re interesting, you’re thinking.

You watch me take another sip and chuckle.“You’re different.”

I smile. “You too.”

And we don’t toast, or exchange contacts, or shake hands, or do what is done at these kinds of parties: business, faking interest, all that bullshit… Instead we just drink and smile at each other and talk about university, and books, and anything but movies, and marketing and PR and investments.

“Can’t wait to leave,” you finish, staring out at the mob of people gathered around Kate Moss. Your eyes look weary, and tired, and brain-dead. The drinks are wearing off on me too, and I can feel myself sinking again. It’s hit that low of alcohol consumption, where the buzz isn’t there anymore, and all that’s left is a hazy feeling of emptiness. It sits in your stomach and pulls at your gut.

“Yeah,” my voice trails off, noticing Jenette in the distance, whispering in some fat guy’s ear. Probably just cut a deal, I think. But I don’t care, really. It’s all the same.

And now the conversation’s died down, and we’re just standing looking out at everyone, feeling emptier than ever.

Someone pops up at your side. “Ben! I’ve been looking for you, you’ve got tons of people to meet,” the scrawny little man interrupts, placing himself between us.

You ignore him for a few seconds, staring off at the crowd. “Yeah, ok,” you sigh, your eyes growing darker, and more tired. They’re losing focus, I can tell.

“Pull yourself together, pal, this is a party,” your friend ushers, patting your back.

And before I know it, you’re gone. Your friend’s whisked you off into the night, shoving you into a crowd of want. Give, and take; all the time. Drilled into our bloodstream the minute we enter the race: give give give. take take take.

It takes me a bit of time to realize I’m upset you’re gone, because people like you are rare. I feel like running after you, dragging my dress on the floor, dirtying the edges, not giving a shit.

But then Jennette shows up, and I’m forgetting again. “I just got Trident’s number. Trident. Do you know what this means?!” Her eyes are blazing, they’re so alive.

I stare blankly at her. Her smile fades instantly. But instead she perks up, and decides to change the subject, shoving me playfully, an eyebrow raised: “I saw you talking to Ben earlier. Well done, eh? You know he’s—”

“I don’t care,” I blurt out, the words spilling out of me. She furrows her brows at me, vaguely surprised, and insulted. I immediately gather myself, adjust my posture, and look carefully at her. “I don’t want to know.”

And it’s true, I think, looking out at the sea of bobbing heads in front of me. I don’t need to know. Because I already do – you’re different, and that’s all that matters.

Jennette shrugs, rolling her eyes. “Whatever,” she whispers in a breath, “Your loss.”

And then she carries on the conversation – bragging about her meeting with Trident, and all the PR she’s going to get from it, and how excited she is about it hitting the papers….

And the noise dies out — I can’t hear her anymore, I’m too far under. Drowning again.

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