Thursday 30 June 2016

Irish quartet make their pitch at glitzy film festival

Barbara McCarthy meets the hopefuls as they navigate the paps, parties and deal-cutting at sunny Cannes

Barbara McCarthy

Published 18/05/2014 | 02:30

RED CARPET: Fergus Kavanagh, Sam Najjair, Ross Hamilton, Philip A McCarthy at the Cannes Film Festival
RED CARPET: Fergus Kavanagh, Sam Najjair, Ross Hamilton, Philip A McCarthy at the Cannes Film Festival
Blake Lively at the Cannes premiere of 'Mr Turner'
Cate Blanchett at the Cannes premiere of 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

Leonardo Di Caprio says Cannes is simply an "insane place", while Jane Campion, president of the Palme D'Or jury this year says it's "mythical and exciting, where amazing things can happen".

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"Actors are discovered, films are financed and careers are made. I know this because it happened to me," she said before the world's most glamorous movie event kicked off for the 67th time.

The probability of something amazing happening may have something to do with the population of the sleepy seaside town swelling from 30,000 people to 200,000.

Besides the tourists, who pitch their deckchairs outside the Palais three days in advance of the festival launch to catch a glimpse of Hollywood's creme de la creme, everyone else has something to sell, regardless of whether they are A-list celebrities staying on a 50ft yacht or film students staying in a tent for a week looking to peddle an unfinished screenplay.

Don't let the competition and premieres fool you, the Cannes Film Festival is a sales event where people sell films – and themselves – for 12 days.

When I arrived at the airport I was met by about 50 rude paparazzi pushing each other over and then stepping on each other to get at Pamela Anderson who was making her way through the terminal. I asked her: "What are you doing in Cannes, Pam?" She grinned and pressed on. It was clear that just like anyone else, she's here to network, do business, meet and greet etc.

Quentin Tarantino (L) and Uma Thurman attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Quentin Tarantino (L) and Uma Thurman attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kristen Stewart leaves the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Uma Thurman attends the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
(L-R) Uma Thurman attends the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actors Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz attend the "Clouds Of Sils Maria" photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Heidi Klum (L) and Justin Bieber attend amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala after party
Model Irina Shayk attends "The Search" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley attends "The Search" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Aishwarya Rai attends the 'Two Days, One Night' (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Alessandra Ambrosio attends the "Two Days, One Night" (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Marion Cotillard attends the "Two Days, One Night" (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Petra Nemcova attends the "Two Days, One Night" premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Model Eva Herzigova arriving for the screening of Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit). (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Jessica Chastain. Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Actress Julianne Moore, left, and actress Mia Wasikowska. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Actress Amber Heard attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
(L-R) Ryan Gosling and Christina Hendricks attend the "Lost River" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Models Rosie Huntington Whiteley (L) and Cara Delevingne attend the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Actress Sharon Stone attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Victoria Silvstedt attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Christina Hendricks and Geoffrey Arend attend the "Lost River" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Riley Keough attends the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Cara Delevingne and Amber Heard attend the De Grisogono dinner party, in collaboration with Gyunel during Cannes film festival at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Actress Julianne Moore, left, and actor Rob Pattinson in Cannes. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Director Bennett Miller (second right), cast members Mark Ruffalo (left), Channing Tatum (second left) and Steve Carell (right). Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Cast member Channing Tatum at the screening of the film "Foxcatcher" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Robert Pattinson (L) and Sarah Gadon arriving for the screening of the film "Maps to the Stars" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Director Jean-Pierre Dardenne (L) and cast member Marion Cotillard attend a news conference for the film "Deux jours, une nuit" (Two Days, One Night). Reuters/Benoit Tessier
John Cusack, Evan Bird, producer Michel Merkt, actress Julianne Moore, director David Cronenberg, cast members Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson and Sarah Gadon, producers Martin Katz and Said Ben Said pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film "Maps to the Stars". Reuters/Regis Duvignau
From left, actor Mark Ruffalo, actor Steve Carell and actor Channing Tatum. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Suki Waterhouse attends "The Homesman" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Hilary Swank poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the screening of the film "The Homesman" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Socialite Paris Hilton poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Hilary Swank attends "The Homesman" press conference during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Socialite Paris Hilton poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Actor Sylvester Stallone (C) and cast members of the film "The Expendables 3" pose on the red carpet during the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Cast members Robert Pattinson (2ndL) and Guy Pearce (R), Director David Michod (2ndR) and producer David Linde (L) pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the film "The Rover" out of competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival
Jessica Chastain attends "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" Premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain attend "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" Premiere at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Jennifer Lawrence attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Jennifer Lawrence attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Julianne Moore attends Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" party at a private villa
Actress and producer Salma Hayek holds a placard which reads "Bring back our girls" as she poses on the red carpet 67th Cannes Film Festival
Eva Longoria attends the "Saint Laurent" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Salma Hayek attends the "Saint Laurent" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
(L-R) Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Rob Friedman, actor Donald Sutherland, director Francis Lawrence, actors Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Claflin, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, producer Nina Jacobson attend "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" photocall at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Blake Lively
Cast member Ryan Reynolds (R) and his wife actress Blake Lively. Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Rosario Dawson. (AP Photo/Thibault Camu
Cast member Ryan Reynolds (R) and his wife actress Blake Lively arriving for the screening of the film "Captives" (The Captive). Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Blake Lively (R) and cast member Rosario Dawson. Reuters/Yves Herman
Cate Blanchett. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Actress Naomi Watts on the red carpet. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Cate Blanchett. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Actress Cate Blanchett at the 67th international film festival, Cannes. Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
Actress Blake Lively
Actress Cate Blanchett and Trophy honoree actress Adele Exarchopoulos at the Chopard Trophee 2014 ceremony. Reuters/Yves Herman
Lydia Kebede attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Zoe Saldana attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Hofit Golan attends the "Mr Turner" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the Calvin Klein in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Naomi Watts at the Calvin Klein. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Rooney Mara at the Calvin Klein party in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Julianne Moore at the Calvin Klein party. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Julianne Moore in Cannes. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Actress Cate Blanchett (L) and Adele Exarchopoulos. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Cate Blanchett (L) applauds Trophy honoree actress Adele Exarchopoulos at the Chopard Trophee 2014 ceremony in. Chopard honours male and female acting revelations during the annual Cannes Film Festival. Reuters/Yves Herman
Actress Blake Lively arrives for the screening of Mr. Turner. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Julianne Moore. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Actress Blake Lively. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
(L-R) Paz Vega and Nicole Kidman attend the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Karlie Kloss attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Zoe Saldana attends the Opening Ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Audrey Tautou attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Elena Lenina attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Nicole Kidman attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Jury member Carole Bouquet attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Model Karlie Kloss. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Jane Fonda attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kendal Jenner attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival oin Cannes, France. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Kendall Jenner attends the Opening ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" Premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Zhang Ziyi attends the Opening Ceremony and the "Grace of Monaco" premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Nicole Kidman attends at the photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festiva at Palais des Festivals
Myleene Klass is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Actress Zoe Saldana and husband Marco Perego arrive at Nice International Airport during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Kendall Jenner is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Julianne Moore is seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Sofia Coppola and her children are seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Pamela Anderson and her boyfriend Rick Salomon are seen arriving in Nice for the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Though she does it with a different set. The super famous, generally keep to themselves in the Hotel de Cap, down the road in Antibes or stay in private villas. Being in Cannes is generally too stressful due to the 4,000-odd media and everyone else trying to get to them. Everyone else happily mingles along the famous Croissette, which is like a comfortable bazaar, where trading is done on white leather couches over a free hor d'oeuvres and a rose.

"Cannes is important for people in film at any level and despite the red carpets, velvet rope and overpriced cocktails, it is accessible to anyone," says filmmaker Fergus Kavanagh, who is looking for distribution for his film Running to Stand Still. It's a coming-of- age story about a young Irishman's journey of misadventure and self-discovery filmed in Thailand and Ireland.

"I came here two years ago with nothing but an idea and went to the Thai film board, who then brought me to Thailand along with location scouts from the US, India and Korea. It was through connections I made here that I could make this film happen. I have since received massive support from the Thai film board and we will be premiering the movie at the Bangkok film festival in November."

The trick, he says, when you come here is to not force yourself on people. "It's organic don't panic, that's what I say. The rule to make it work is there are no rules. You can spend your days dishing out business cards and going to parties, but that may not necessarily lead to much when you get home."

Actor Ross Hamilton, who plays the lead role in the film, travelled to Cannes with Kavanagh. "I'm here to promote my first feature film, which was shot on a micro budget last year and it's incredible that we made it here. It's such a unique place, filled with endless potential. Everyone is here – distributors, screenwriters, directors and potential collaborators. As a massive lover of film, I particularly enjoy the fact that I can watch movies here too and chat to people about the art of filmmaking."

Author of autobiographical Soldier for a Summer, Sam Najjair is in Cannes to find collaborators for a screenplay he wrote about his experiences as a revolutionary freedom fighter in Libya. Born to an Irish mother and a Libyan father, Sam, who worked in Dublin in the restaurant trade, travelled to Tripoli in 2011, where he led a 'Lions of Tripoli' brigade, which scouted enemy positions and cleared the way for the main forces. Najjair also visited Syria in 2012 where he aided the rebel fighters against the Assad regime as well as a multifaceted mission to support humanitarian aid and trained local Syrian troops. Having already been featured in an award-winning, documentary for France 24, called The Tripoli Brigade, Najjair has been a commentator on Sky News, BBC and CNN.

"It's a very unique story, and I want to be part of the production as a screenwriter and producer. It's my first screenplay but on my Irish side I grew up in a theatrical family with both my grandparents acting in the Abbey.

"Not wanting to be left out, I myself wrote a screenplay, which I am looking to sell in Cannes. An Irish comedy, I wrote about personal experiences. I learnt from US-based script-consultant Pilar Alessandra, who is giving a workshop in Filmbase in Dublin in June, that I need to 'hook them right away, don't dwell'. Get a logline – start with what if... then embellish. Sometimes you only have two minutes, so don't waste them."

"It's many people's dream to come here and we're here," filmmaker Philip A McCarthy told me. "I got changed into my tuxedo in a tiny little shipping boat last time I was here, after which I was told my feature film The Vein Within, about progressive addiction based on a true story would never be made. Yet I made it on €3,000 and I'm screening it to distributors here," he says. "It's a story that has been 13 years in the making and we made it against all the odds."

So despite the usual critique of the Cannes festival not being what it once was, it's still the stuff of dreams and when you're not talking movies, a brisk walk along the seafront at night to watch the fireworks or downing a cocktail at some production party make it well worth the trip.

Sunday Independent

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