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Three Days at Cannes

It’s been just over a week since leaving the south of France and reflecting on the biggest international film festival of the year, leaving me consumed by post-Cannes blues. The festival left everyone tired, sleep-deprived and full of blisters but oh was it worth it!

I was overjoyed to have been chosen from the thousands of applications

This year, for the first time, Cannes decided to open its doors to non-industry and non-professionals from 18-28 by granting 1000 of them a three-day accreditation, as well as programming a special re-run program to give us as many films as possible. Whether this was a methodical approach to boost the festival’s reception or to demonstrate that young people are still interested in film and that the festival still has a chance of surviving the era of Netflix, I was overjoyed to have been chosen from the thousands of applications.

we all had the love for film in common

Like every year, I had been following the festival on social media, but seeing the venue in person felt like a dream. Immediately I was surrounded by the most glamorous people dressed in stylish and elegant gowns and suits, some of them queuing for the prestigious red-carpet screening at the grand Lumiere theatre, while others waited on the side with handwritten posters, begging for a spare ticket (a phenomenon I would be seeing for the next three days). Waiting in line for my accreditation and Festival guide (the first of many queues) it was incredible to see that people were here from all corners of the world. Participants in the program ranged from all over Europe, the US and Asia, and considering we all had the love for film in common, it was very easy to make friends.

My festival experience and my first celebrity sighting began that night with a 40-year anniversary screening of Grease by the beach, with the honorary presence of John Travolta. The next three days were wonderfully chaotic. With a late ending and a very early 6am start, seeing as you had to queue well in advance if you wanted to get into a film, there was barely any time to eat, sleep or take a stroll through the Promenade de la Croisette (the glamorous shopping strip across from the white-sand beach next to the festival venue). But we weren’t there for any of those things – our priorities were set very straight, our goal being to see as many films as possible.

The range of genres and styles was incredible

In 3 days I managed a satisfactory amount of 10 films, some of which like Godard’s The Image Book being more spontaneous and others like Spike Lee’s The Blackkklansman being very much anticipated. The range of genres and styles was incredible – Leto (Kyrill Serebrennikov) and Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowsi) with their nostalgic black and white, Knife + Heart (Yann Gonzalez) with its strange but oddly satisfying experimental meets B-movie genre and, of course, the ultimate embodiment of postmodernism in David Robert Mitchell’s latest feature Under the Silver Lake starring Andrew Garfield. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise however, was Panos Cosmatos’s thriller Mandy that superbly starred the much-hated Nicholas Cage in the best role of his career. I was an intensively coloured film fuelled by heavy-metal, drugs and revenge with a chainsaw – and from the cheering reactions of the audience at Cage’s every successful kill, it’s bound to be a new Cult hit.

I left the festival fuelled with emotions and overwhelmed by the power of cinema. Despite Cannes’ concern over online streaming platforms and its feud with Netflix, as well as the fall in numbers of festival goers and concerns over its importance, it is an incredible space that needs to be cherished and valued for what it is, and the ‘3 Days in Cannes’ program demonstrated that there are at least 1000 people who do.

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