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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Reporter's log: Cannes Film Festival
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

Caroline Briggs
Caroline's late nights and early starts are part of the Cannes deal
The movers and shakers of the film world are on the French Riviera for the 58th Cannes film festival.

The BBC's Caroline Briggs reports from Cannes on the atmosphere of the world's most prestigious film event.


Friday 20 May 18:30 local time (17:30 BST)

Well, that's it. The Cannes Film Festival is almost over for another year, and, for me, it all ends here.

It's been a non-stop whirlwind of activity and I will be returning to England exhausted thanks to the amount of pounding I've been doing up and down the Croisette.

I had been warned how hectic it would be, but had little appreciation of just what that would mean. It's very difficult to find time to fit in the endless round of film screenings, press conferences, interviews and media receptions.

Most people who are out working here have been in the same position.

One photographer I chatted to had barely left his hotel room until yesterday. It was his job to wire images back to the UK and sat on the same chair from 10am until 3am every day.

Another journalist had found accommodation in Cannes hard to come by and was sleeping in a corridor,

Hardly glamorous, but the hard work has been worth it.

Friday 20 May 13:30 local time (12:30 BST)

A bit of drama has just been injected into the usually studious atmosphere of the press room.

I've never seen photographers jump so fast as they did when the doors opened to reveal Tommy Lee Jones and the stars of his film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

They walked grandly through the room and out of the back door without saying a word - much to the amusement of us sat here working.

It turns out someone has left an unattended bag in the Palais and the route they would have taken from the press conference has had to be changed while security guards check it out.

At least they managed to escape. Half of the press are now locked in the conference hall and the rest of us are sat in the press room with stern-looking security men keeping us penned in.

Friday 20 May 09:45 local time (08:45 BST)

There is a definite feeling that Cannes is starting to calm down. The crowds on the Croisette have thinned slightly and the journalists are looking less stressed and bad-tempered than they have been.

Everyone is aware that the festival ends tomorrow and are putting less pressure on themselves. Either that, or everyone is just utterly exhausted.

I'm all but recovered from the nasty cold that has plagued me since I arrived on the Cote d'Azur, but other people sound like they are now falling victim.

Nearly two weeks of hard work, little sleep and surviving on Croque Monsieurs does take its toll eventually.

But Cannes has not finished for 2005 yet and giant posters advertising up-and-coming films jostle for attention on the Croisette, with Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds winning the battle.

There are rumours that he is going to drop into town either today or tomorrow for a brief photocall to promote the film.

As for today, actor Tommy Lee Jones is around as his directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, is screened in competition.

The film is one of the final two being shown today, along with Three Times, by Hou Hsiao Hsien. And that's it.

All that's left for the jury to do is choose the winner of the Palme d'Or.

Wednesday 18 May 1100 local time (1000 BST)

It was an early start after last night's late screening of Robert Rodriguez's Sin City.

The film itself is based on Frank Miller's comic book stories and I loved the graphic style of the film itself.

While is not being touted as one of the favourites for the Palme d'Or, you just never know how the jury are going to decide.

Stars of the film, including Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro, Jessica Alba, Michael Madsen and Brittany Murphy, arrived in town yesterday, ahead of the gala screening tonight, so I'm looking forward to the press conference later.

Tuesday 17 May 1600 local time (1500 BST)

I spent a couple of hours hanging around hoping to speak to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who has been in town for a European Union-organised meeting on the future of film.

Bill Murray
Bill Murray added some star power to Cannes
After lots of rushing around and waiting patiently, she had to leave to catch her aeroplane, but I did manage to squeeze in a conversation over the telephone, while she was in the car on her way to Nice airport.

I've also been chatting to a photographer about his thoughts on what he thinks of Cannes this year. Like many journalists and photographers he has been moaning about a lack of big US stars, compared to previous festivals.

But you don't get much bigger than Bill Murray, who is here for the world premiere of his latest film Broken Flowers, which is up for the Palme d'Or prize.

The film also stars Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, British actress Tilda Swinton and French-born Julie Delpy.

In the film, Murray plays a single man who embarks on a journey to find four ex-partners in the hope of finding out clues after recieving an anonymous letter from a former lover, telling him he has a 19-year-old son.

Murray joked with journalists that, unlike his character, he was "just getting his mid-life crisis - so stick around!"

Monday 16 May 18:00 local time (19:00 BST)

I managed to catch up with Martin Freeman and we had time for a quick interview on the beach, beer in hand - him, not me - while he promotes his new film The All Together.

He was a really nice guy and a true Cannes virgin, like me.

He only arrived at the festival last night and is flying back out again tomorrow, so I hope he wasn't too disappointed by the Cannes weather today - which has been mostly rain. Not very Riviera.

But he did say was he was happy just sitting on the beach and looking at scores of yachts and boats that are moored just off the shoreline.

I also met Toby Rose - the man who will be hosting the "alternative" festival prize, the Palm Dog Award.

As Toby explained, the award is given to the dog with the best canine performance in a film. It is certainly one of the quirkier Cannes prizes!

Monday 16 May 11:00 local time (10:00 BST)

Two of the big contenders for the Palme d'Or prize are in town today so I'm about to embark on my round of daily press conferences.

Lars von Trier won in 2000 for Dancer In The Dark and his offerings usually go down at Cannes, so Manderlay is a likely contender for the top prize.

The often controversial David Cronenberg will also be at his official press conference with Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortenson, who plays as a smalltown cafe worker turned have-a-go hero in A History of Violence.

Rumour among the journalists is that Mortenson is sporting a rather fetching over-sized moustache for a new film role, so I'll see if that causes as much a stir as Natalie Portman's new skin-head did yesterday!

I also hear that Office star Martin Freeman is on the beach later to talk about his new film, hot-on-the-heels of his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy role, so that will be worth checking out.

There is so much going on in Cannes you often have to be in two places at once and it is impossible to cover everything.

All you can do is keep your ear to the ground in the press room to find out who is causing a stir and what is going to be the next big thing.

Sunday 15 May 15.45 local time (14:45 BST)

Star Wars fever has taken a grip on Cannes.

By late morning, the Croissette was even busier than its usual bustling self, and the space around the red carpet at the Palais was a sea of people getting their photos taken or setting up camp for a good view of tonight's Star Wars premiere.

A small line of people with parasols and fishing stools - who have been pitched out most of the week ready for their highlight of the festival - have been joined by more fans, and their excitement is tangible.

Others wandered past in Jedi knight and Darth Vader outfits before dozens of television cameras.

Inside the Palais it was a scrum as journalists queued, then scrabbled to claim a seat in the press conference.

When Natalie Portman arrived she surprised many inside - and drew gasps from the crowd outside - with a shaven head!

Not many people could carry off such a harsh look, but she still looked absolutely stunning.

Samuel L Jackson was also on good form in the conference, laughing and joking with both the panel and the journalists, while George Lucas shared with everyone how he celebrated his birthday yesterday.

He joked that he spent so much time crossing time zones in an aeroplane that he didn't actually age at all.

Sunday 15 May 08:00 local time (07:00 BST)

Well...this is it. The big one. The Star Wars bandwagon is in town and today is going to be a scrum with all the journalists fighting for a slice of the action.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith will premiere in Cannes tonight, and George Lucas - as well as some of the film's stars - will be doing the usual round of press conferences, interviews and photocalls, while we do battle with each other to see it.

There's little time to reflect on, and recover, from last night's MTV Kung Fu Hustle-themed party, which took place in a beautiful villa just outside Cannes.

It was a great night that added a bit of glamour to my stay here, but after a very short sleep it is time to pound the Croisette again. I'm going in...

Saturday 13:35 local time (12:35 BST)

Cannes is exhausting. The amount of running around and working that a journalist has to do here means it is can be pretty draining on my energy levels.

But last night I met a group of film distributors and despite being tired I met other journalists, film-makers, photographers, website designers, producers, and a whole host of other people who make Cannes what it is.

One man asked me what I did for a living and said he only talks to people at Cannes who can be "useful" to him. I didn't hang around for long, but I guess he was just being honest about what a lot of people use Cannes for.

Friday 13 May 18:00 local time (1700 BST)

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton caused a stir on the beach

Cannes seems to be getting busier in terms of people and things to be done as the week progresses.

This morning I flew from interviews, to press conferences, to my computer, and back again - one highlight being a 20-minute sneak preview of Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, which is out later this year.

The film, starring Matt Damon and Monica Bellucci, looks amazing.

Brothers Grimm, which interweaves their dark fairy tales, was full of special effects, including Monica Bellucci as a queen who ages 500 years before your eyes. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger play the brothers.

I also had to fight the crowds along the Croisette today to pick up my ticket for the MTV party, which is happening tomorrow night.

Unfortunately, Paris Hilton was doing a photocall on the beach, and it was difficult to steer my way through the masses and the dozens of photographers with tele-photo lenses, trying to get a snap.

Thursday 12 May 20:20 local time (19:20 BST)

I made my way along the Croisette to the Majestic hotel to speak to one PR agent, only to find the place swarming with press, photographers and by-standers queuing early for the Match Point cocktail party which is being held there tonight, with Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen.

Some girls were even dressed to the nines and standing outside the hotel holding notes, begging for spare tickets.

The party is one of the most exclusive at Cannes and the tickets are like gold to some people - usually the ones who don't have an invite!

But Cannes is all about seeing and being seen in all the right places, and many a deal has been struck over a cocktail or two, so they are important.

As for me, I think the only thing I'll be seeing tonight is my bed.

Thursday 12 May 14:15 local time (13:15 BST)

Phew! I learned two real lessons about the Cannes film festival this morning - never assume anything and run everywhere.

I hot-footed it down to the screening of Woody Allen's latest film Match Point at 8am and joined the queue outside the Palais, where our bags were duly searched before going into the cinema.

I settled down in a prime spot to enjoy the film, only for the opening credits to reveal I was actually in a screening for a different film - Dominik Moll's Lemming - and I had to make it across to the proper screening smartish. Lesson number one.

Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson
Allen and Johansson at the Match Point press conference
After the screening, the masses immediately made their way up the Palais for the press conference with Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson.

Unfortunately for me, I was the first pink pass to be refused entry as it was full to all but those with more exclusive accreditation. Lesson number two.

I hung around in the hope that one or two more seats would be made available, but as I glimpsed Scarlett and Woody sweep past and into the press conference I knew I had to admit defeat.

All I could do was join hordes of other pink, blue and yellow journalists in flocking to the television relay from the conference to record what was going on behind closed doors.

I'm small so I managed to squeeze my way to the front while bad-tempered journalists behind me screamed at each other to get out of the way of the screen and keep quiet.

Straight after the press conference I ran (see - I'd learned my lesson) to the Salle Bazin for a sneak preview of the new Wallace and Gromit film which, needless to say, looks fantastic.

Then it was back to my computer screen to type everything up. Hope I get time to have some lunch soon...

Wednesday 11 May 21:00 local time (20:00 BST)

After the hectic day I've had, it was good to have some time to relax with some fellow journalists at a gathering organised by one of the major PR companies who represent many of the films at Cannes.

Cannes is all about parties and social gatherings for many of the film industry people and journalists who converge on the Cote d'Azur every year.

A lot of the networking is done at the events after the screenings, and they are the places that journalists go to put their heads together and talk about what is going on. Many a decent story can turn up that may not come about after hours of chasing PRs down the Croisette.

Everywhere there is talk of invites to a certain party, and which one is going to be the hottest this year.

But at the end of the day, it's the best way to unwind after a frantic day running around in your flip-flops.

And with the film festival now well and truly under way, there's going to be a lot more of that.

Wednesday 11 May 19:00 local time (18:00 BST)

Salma Hayek
Cannes jury member Salma Hayek drew a great deal of attention
Cannes has really come alive tonight as the curtain goes up on the 58th Cannes Film Festival.

The red-carpet parade of celebrities has begun and the soundtrack is being supplied by an orchestra who have set up just outside the Palais.

Limos and cars are stretched back along The Croisette as far as I can see from my vantage point on the balcony of the press centre, which overlooks the heads of thousands of people who have turned out to star-spot.

And while the street below is a sea of colour, the balconies of hotel and apartments across the road are also full of people leaning across the railings with cameras and binoculars trained on the action below.

The paparazzi are tiered four-high and look unusually smart, dressed in their tuxedos as they snap every celebrity, film buff and wannabe who steps a fashionable foot on the red carpet.

The Palme d'Or jury have arrived to whoops and hollers from the crowd, while the flash-bulbs went crazy for actress Salma Hayek as she posed for the masses.

Wednesday 11 May 16:00 local time (15:00 BST)

I have the Black Death. At least I think it is, but a mild dose of the 'flu seems more likely.

I woke up this morning with a raging sore throat and have felt increasingly ill during the day, but in Cannes there is no rest for the wicked - or even for those feeling a bit under-the-weather, for that matter.

red carpet at Cannes
Last-minute adjustments are made to Cannes' red carpet
The day has been a non-stop relay of me running from the press centre, to my computer, and back again, and while wearing flip-flops, that's no mean feat.

The number of journalists in Cannes has soared since yesterday and that means the colour of your press accreditation is everything. Those at the top are given white press badges, followed by pink with a spot, pink, blue and, at the bottom, yellow.

Those with a white pass get into the press conferences and film screenings first, while those with lower accreditation are left biting their nails to see if they can get in while glaring jealously at those with better colours sweep past.

With a pink-level pass I'm relatively OK, but the press conferences today have been a bit of a squeeze.

The first was for the film Lemming with the beautiful Charlotte Rampling. She talked about how the European film industry was better for ageing actresses than Hollywood.

After a bun-fight over computers in the press room so I could email my story back to London, it was back to the press conference hall to meet the jury before I could eventually escape for some very late lunch.

Cannes is in the final stages of preparation for tonight's opening ceremony with roads along The Croisette sealed off, and the red carpet is undergoing final adjustments.

Crowds have started to appear around the entrance to the Palais in anticipation of the stars' arrival and the city is definitely bristling with anticipation.

Wednesday 11 May 01:15 local time (00:15 BST)

I spent the evening with three other British journalists and two photographers. I turned down - with gritted teeth - an invite for drinks at the exclusive Hotel Du Cap after a tip-off that a certain famous couple may be staying there.

But I know I have a laptop to wrestle with and a pile of paper to wade through before I can go to bed, and I have been warned that things get even more manic as the festival kicks in proper.... and did I mention the Hotel Du Cap invite also extends to nearly every night this week?

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to rounds of press conferences, before I take up the invitation of drinks on the beach with one of the PR machines that keep Cannes ticking over. After that, it's down to the Palais for the big opening night red carpet entrance. With the weather forecast looking hot, I think it's going to be a good day.

Tuesday 10 May: 18:10 local time (17:00 BST)

I have sore feet. Very sore feet.

Clint Eastwood poster in Cannes
Some star quality is already on show in Cannes
As a Cannes virgin, I had been warned by fellow journalists of the street pounding that would dominate my first day on the Cote d'Azur, and I could not accuse any of them of lying to me. I have walked miles.

My day started at the unearthly hour of 7am, with a short and mostly uneventful hop across The Channel. Only a hairy landing at Nice (I thought we were going to land in the sea!) provided any excitement.

As soon as I left Nice airport, my schoolgirl French was tested by a very nice, but very talkative cab driver. He asked me a lot of questions (at least I think they were questions) that could only be answered with a nod, a smile, and the odd "merci".

French journalist Florence Aubenas, translator Hussein Hanun al-Saad and French-Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt
Images of hostages in Iraq and Colombia are displayed on the festival palace
Getting my press accreditation was a snip, but the real hard work started with a trawl around the numerous PR and publicity agents that set up camp in swanky hotels along the Croisette.

The idea is to beg, borrow and steal time from the hoards of stars they represent at Cannes, but there is a definite hierarchy to who gets what. I heard horror stories from Cannes veterans about female journalists who resort to hair-pulling when things heat up - not difficult in the heat of the Riviera sunshine.

Still, I managed to meet a lot of people and I'm weighed down with numerous press releases, film schedules, festival guides, and invites. I also have a nice suntan developing - if only on my arms! I only briefly glimpsed the beach.

The festival itself does not kick-off until Wednesday, and the red carpet outside the Palais is still very much work-in-progress, with sandstone floors - rather than plush carpet - the order of the day.

Cannes preparations
Preparations are still under way for the festival
But there is lots of banging and building going on as workmen continue to put up posters and scaffolding ahead of the opening film, Lemming.

By then, the city will have swelled to accommodate even more journalists, film-makers and wannabes that make up the world's most prestigious film festival.

I'll be there with them tomorrow - preferably wearing a pair of comfy slippers.




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