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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
The language of Cannes
BBC News Online's Tim Masters rides into town to continue our Cannes diary - but first he has to find time to acclimatise.

Lights! Camera! Action! Arriving here in the second week with the festival in full swing is a sudden assault on the senses.

The sunlight dazzles off luxury yachts in the harbour, music thumps constantly in the background and movie execs spout jargon into their mobile phones.

Cannes pavement
Even the pavements have celebrity status
"It's gonna do massive BO," says one loud voice along the Croisette - the pulsing artery of the Cannes festival. That's box office, to you and me.

In fact everybody seems to have a mobile, to the extent that I feel naked without mine constantly in hand. I cut through the throngs and dial up some potential interviewees, trying to dredge up my school French.

Suddenly there's a buzz over at the Palais, the festival's nerve centre.

Walking up its hallowed red carpet to the pop of paparazzi bulbs is director Jean Luc-Godard - who has returned to the competition after an 11-year absence with Eloge de L'Amour (Eulogy of Love), an examination of the four stages in the breakup of a relationship.

Cannes beach
Cameras, cameras everywhere
Aha. I've seen my first celeb.

Dress codes

As the sun drops over the Palais, the dress codes in the neighbourhood undergoes a drastic transformation.

Casual day clothes are replaced by a sea of tuxedos and décolletage as the lucky few congregate for tonight's big screenings of David Lynch's Mullholland Drive and Sean Penn's The Pledge.

The festival buzz is that the Lynch film is stunning.

Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard: Back after a long absence
Around the harbour the massive boats (one has its own helicopter) host exclusive parties with bouncers on the gang plank and live jazz on deck.

Even the photographers are in bow ties, snapping anyone vaguely glamorous and then handing them a business card quicker than the click of the shutter.

But business is what Cannes is all about.

Vistors to Cannes
Top tux and posh frocks for the evening premiere
My taxi driver told me as we approached town: "Look at the boats in the harbour, there's an incredible amount of wealth here and my business is booming."

Expensive

This doesn't come as too much of a surprise. I had been warned Cannes was expensive. I just didn't realise quite how much.

Just like the films which are at the heart of this marketing frenzy, it is advisable for the visitor to have a multi-million dollar budget.

Once the taxi fare had ripped a Titanic-sized hole in my expenses I realised that a new approach was needed.

Cannes
The sun sets over the Palais, now the partying really begins
I'd like to say that a hired a bicycle as a mark of respect for the special screening of Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thieves), by Italy's Vittorio de Sica, but my reasons were purely financial.

That's not to say I won't enjoy my cycle ride along the Cote d'Azur every day to and from my apartment.

And I don't feel too bad about depriving the taxi driver of her livelihood.

As we conversed a little in French on our journey I could have sworn she said: "I had that Jean-Luc Godard in the back of my cab once."

Maybe it's time to buy a phrase book.


Festival diary

Films in focus

The lowdown

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TALKING POINT
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