Cannes 2013 Blog: New Friends & Terrific Memories 24 Films Later
by Alex Billington
May 26, 2013
All good things must come to an end. It's that time again. That time when the last of us still left in Cannes pack our bags, grab a final dinner and drinks with friends, and head to the airport. We've reached the end of the 12 days of the Cannes Film Festival and my typically cheery demeanor has morphed into bittersweet sadness. Nostalgia has already kicked in thinking back over the last two weeks (and the last four years) I've spent in the South of France in cinema heaven with amazing friends. My fifth year at Cannes has come to an end, but I've begun to love this fest more and more each year I go. Now 24 films later it's time to get home.
The festival itself runs 12 days in total, nearly two weeks, and counting the days from when I left my home in New York City to when I returned, it has indeed been a full two weeks for me. As I wrote at the beginning, I'm returning a new person. These are the moments that define our lives. The people we meet, the events we attend and choices we make, the films we see, the discussions we have, the outcome of all this intensely focused passion for film. Even if I didn't write a review of every film I saw, making the decision to come to Cannes is what counts. Simply coming to this beautiful town and getting immersed in the festival and the films and this industry is the experience that really matters. As I've been saying over and over for the last 7 years I've been going to film fests, I live for this, and I'll keep going back to them as long as I possibly can.
This year in particular has provided me with many wonderful memories of the people I spent time with, the new friends I made, all of the cinephiles/filmmakers I met. What cinema has taught me is how invaluable connections are, and how important genuine relationships are to life. If I stayed in our apartment all day working, never went to any parties, or never said "hi" to anyone, my festival would be miserable. But instead it's actually an awesome experience here because I've been extremely lucky to have met and be surrounded by people who constantly encourage, inspire, invigorate, and make me feel even more passionate every day. Every day I would wake up to arguments about film with my flatmates Eric and Nick, and every day I'd hit the Croisette excited for the discussions and chats ahead. It's not just about the films, it's about the people.
If anything, this final blog post is a tribute to all of the people I spent my time with in Cannes 2013. A way of saying thank you; thank you for being my friend, for having honest/open discussions with me and my friends, for providing a unique viewpoint that I didn't see before. It's all of you, all of these individuals, who make this festival so enriching. I encourage following and supporting all of these people, each and every one is worth knowing, and each one has a distinct voice. These are the people who made this year unforgettable:
Eric Lavallee from IONCinema - @ioncinema
Flatmate Nicholas Bell from IONCinema
Raffi Asdourian from The Film Stage - @zaffi
Jordan Hoffman from Film.com - @JHoffman6
Ryland Aldrich from Twitch - @RylandAldrich
Brian Clark from Twitch - @marshalclark
Matt Patches from Hollywood.com - @misterpatches
Sasha Stone from Awards Daily - @awardsdaily
Alicia Malone from Malone's Movie Minute - @aliciamalone
Rebecca Lewis from Up and Comers - @bexlewis361
Sarah Rappaport from CNBC - @SarahRapp
Kevin Jagernauth from The Playlist - @theplaylist
Brad Brevet from Rope of Silicon - @ropeofsilicon
Aurelien & Emma from Cinema Teaser - @cinemateaser
Tim League from the Alamo Drafthouse - @timalamo
Shaun Munro from What Culture - @ShaunMunroFilm
William Goss from MSN - @williambgoss
Bob Bentivegna, Skip Bronkie, J. Sperling Reich, Kenji Fujishima, Aaron Hillis, Peter Howell, and last but not least my friends Gérald Duchaussoy and Anne Pampin from the Cannes press office
What would a world be without friends, without interactions with all the people who mean something to us, even just appreciating their company. That's why I love Cannes. No one voice alone in film criticism matters by itself, we've entered the era of community, an era where discussion amongst peers encourages success and an era where art affects many people on a global scale. Cinema is a shared experience. Almost every morning I'd wake up at 7AM and walk into a theater packed with 2000+ critics/press from all over the world, every country, to see the exact same film together. We're not all going to agree, but that's why it's so exciting - to find out who does agree and why we agree, and what we agree upon, if there's anything at all.
During the festival I was given the opportunity to meet and chat with Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale Station (an outstanding film I first saw at Sundance that also played Cannes) as well as Nicolas Winding Refn, director of Only God Forgives (and Drive). Two filmmakers whom I greatly admire and respect and was honored to spend a few minutes talking with. While I stopped by a few parties, it was sneaking into the Panama party that provided us with some of the best memories. I ended up with Eric and a group of friends at the Panama Film Commission beach party one night, dancing our asses off with Panama hats. There are parties every night, but the ones with free flowing drinks and without celebrity hunters are always the best.
At the end of it all, there are the films. My total count: 24. Same as last year, which is quite an achievement considering at least half the line-up I wasn't interested in. I missed some big ones, of course, like Borgman and Blue Ruin and Zulu, but I'm glad I hit the 24 film mark by the end of these 12 days. Our flatmate Nick, attending for his very first time, topped 40 films which baffled Eric and me. How the heck did he pull that off? We all know the answer: little sleep, an unflinching determination, and staunch curiosity for film. Half of his 40+ films were leftovers playing in the Cannes buyers' market (he loves Isabelle Huppert and would see anything with her), but it was always fun to hear reactions on his latest 4 or 5-film-days every evening.
To wrap up my final blog on this year's fest, I can't help but continue to express gratitude towards everyone that has embraced my voice in this industry. I come to Cannes to fall in love with film all over again and every single year that happens. I get a lump in my throat when we near the end, when everyone starts going home. For 12 days we huddled together under umbrellas and queued up at 8AM all in the name of cinema. All because we love what we do, all because we love telling the world about films that move us, entertain us, frustrate us, that leave us excited for the future of cinema. Nothing can compare to Cannes and the global experience it provides, the good days and even the bad. I always wake up every day at the festival in awe that this is my life. I hope in turn I can inspire others to pursue their passions and love film the way all of us do.
Here's my complete list of films I saw at 2013 Cannes Film Festival. I've been ranking films on indieWire's Criticwire as well, plus always tweeting opinions and updates via twitter @firstshowing. To finalize my festival experience, this is all 24 screenings (in order of when I saw them) and a quick reaction for each one:
Alex's Cannes 2013 Films:
1. Heli (dir. Amat Escalante) - Hated It
2. Young & Beautiful (dir. François Ozon) - Liked It
3. The Bling Ring (dir. Sofia Coppola) - Hated It
4. Mood Indigo (dir. Michel Gondry) - Hated It
6. The Past (dir. Asghar Farhadi) - Liked It
7. The Congress (dir. Ari Folman) - Loved It
8. Jimmy P. (dir. Arnaud Desplechin) - Just Okay
9. The Dance of Reality (dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky) - Liked It
10. Inside Llewyn Davis (dir. Coen Brothers) - Loved It
11. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (dir. David Lowery) - Loved It
12. Last Days on Mars (dir. Ruairi Robinson) - Just Okay
13. Seduced & Abandoned (dir. James Toback) - Just Okay
14. Jodorowsky's Dune (dir. Frank Pavich) - Loved It
15. Behind the Candelabra (dir. Steven Soderbergh) - Liked It
16. Bastards (Les salauds) (dir. Claire Denis) - Loved It
17. Only God Forgives (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn) - Loved It
18. All is Lost (dir. J.C. Chandor) - Loved It
19. Like Father, Like Son (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda) - Loved It
20. Nebraska (dir. Alexander Payne) - Liked It
21. Blue is the Warmest Color (dir. Abdellatif Kechiche) - Loved It
22. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch) - Liked It
23. Venus in Fur (dir. Roman Polanski) - Just Okay
24. The Immigrant (dir. James Gray) - Hated It
I should be back next year, hopefully, but in the meantime there's a few more recaps to post and discussions to have and interviews to run. Thanks for following the coverage of my fifth year at the Cannes Film Festival.