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Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Trying the shorts in Cannes
cameraman
Movie-making is what it's all about
On his last day in Cannes, BBC News Online's Tim Masters packs his bags and takes them along to some last-minute screenings.

An essential Cannes ritual, after croissants and cafe au lait, is to pick up a copy of one of the daily trade magazines to find out the latest big-buck deals, the latest reviews and what's hot for the day ahead.

It is a good barometer of the festival mood. One publication prints a league table of critical opinion on all the competition films.

Variety's Todd McCarthy writes that he has seen all but one of the competition titles and is beginning to realise "if a great film hasn't turned up by this point it simply isn't going to happen".

Tim Masters
Tim Masters: Overdosing on shorts
I am slightly surprised to read what can only be called a glowing account of Troma's Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV.

"Who says bodily fluids look best inside bodies?" asks the Variety reviewer.

The downmarket shocker, which continues the saga of its toxically-scarred superhero, isn't in the running for the prestigious Palme d'Or, in case you were wondering.

It is too soon after breakfast to contemplate this any further so, with my time in Cannes fast running out, it's a good moment to cram in some last minute films.

Ironically, one of the common complaints in Cannes is that people are so busy running around to meetings and interviews that they don't have the time to see any movies.

Brit flicks

I catch a programme of mainly British shorts which include Sweet, a fast-moving comedy about an imaginary girlfriend and the havoc she causes between two friends.

 Street artist: More gold than the Palme d'Or
Street artist: More gold than the Palme d'Or
By their nature short films are restricted in how many ideas and characters they can include.

A simple formula is often best, and a good example is Tumbled, which stars Peter Bowles as a suspicious husband who makes a phone call home to check on his wife - with disastrous consequences.

It has a whiff of urban myth about it - and haunts the memory.

Director Jan Dunn's equally simple but effective Joan has the Maid of Orleans in the present day, meeting her boyfriend's parents in their suburban home.

She arrives on her horse and, in one lovely touch, puts her sword in the umbrella stand in the hall.

Perhaps the most atmospheric film of this screening is Ravi Kumar's My Other Wheelchair is a Porsche.

Telling the story of a paralysed youth in hospital, it ends with an emotionally intense moment of intimacy with a nurse.

Cannes beach
The beach: But I'm going home....
By way of contrast, I also catch Australian horror comedy Bondi Hophead Zombie Freakout, another not-in-it-for-the-Palme-d'Or-production.

Thumbs up

I get chatting to a London-based screenwriter who has spent two weeks looking for work.

She printed up a load of business cards before the festival and set off for Cannes clutching her air ticket and a full-length comedy script.

She says things have really quietened down and a lot of people have already left, but I pass on the number of a producer whom I had interviewed the previous evening.

As I leave, the screenwriter is on her mobile. She beams and gives me a huge thumbs-up.

I think that sums up part of what Cannes is about: making new contacts and pursuing that elusive deal.

But having a great deal of fun in the process.


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