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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
The quirky side of glamorous Cannes
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

Simon Savoury of Troma drums up business
Publicity is everything at Cannes
While the Cannes film festival goes about the serious business of showing films and making deals, an endless, ongoing circus is lurking in the fringes.

Loud, proud and possibly unhinged film-makers descend on the festival every year, each intent on one mission - to get themselves noticed.

Their madcap schemes inject a little colour to the Croisette as they try to get people to come and see their films, which are shown in the many cinemas and screening rooms dotted around the streets.

Stunts this year have included a masked group who stole attention from the opening night showing of Lemming by scaling the side of a bank and throwing fake money down to the crowd below.

And the Troma team - whose blood-soaked antics have been ever-present in Cannes since 1980 - were also back this year, causing even more chaos on the Croisette.

Horror shocker

Troma, a New York-based company that specialises in low-budget horror shockers are in town to screen such titles as Devoured: The Legend of Alfred Packer and Parts of the Family.
Troma staff
Can you hear me now? Drumming up business in Cannes

They hit the streets to promote their "B-movies, C-movies, to Z-movies" with loud-speakers, bloodied operating theatre scrubs, and a corpse in a shopping trolley.

Their frolics result in a fair share of attention from the crowds, and it was reported last week that festival organisers had banned a photo call for their film Lady Godiva... Get Back in the Saddle, which is not part of the official festival programme.

But Simon Savoury - holding a rather unsavoury pickled doll's head - told BBC News they were generally ignored by those in the "serious" film industry.

"They swan around in their suits and don't even give us a second glance," he said.

"But we get the same amazed reaction from the public every year - people just don't know who we are.

'Smile'

"At the end of the day, we are here giving something to the public and putting a smile on their faces."

Other quirky events that happen in Cannes include the annual Palme d'Or alternative - The Palm Dog Award.

Judges, made up of a panel of journalists, award the annual spoof prize to the dog who has given the best canine performance in a film.

Previous winners have included Moses, from Lars von Trier's aptly titled Dogville.

In 2001, the award was collected on behalf of Otis by his co-star and director, Jennifer Jason Leigh for his role in The Anniversary Party.

She accepted the Palm Dog collar, saying: "This is great, this is wonderful. I was feeling very flat today, but hearing that Otis had won the Palm Dog really lifted my spirits."

 Toby Rose
The dog's the star at Cannes

Last year the award went to flatulent bulldogs Edgar and Hoover, whose explosive appearance in the documentary Mondovino caught the jury's collective eyes and ears.

Toby Rose, the British host and founder of the award, said this year would see a dogfight between the terrier in Greyfriars Bobby, the greyhound in The Mighty Cell and the dog in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

'Star quality'

The winner will be announced on Friday.

"We look for stand out star quality and which dog makes a big contribution to the scenes of the film.

"It is along the lines of what makes an Oscar-winning performance."

Rose, who has his own dog called Muttley, said it was important to recognise the contribution dogs make to some films.

"No matter how good the dog's performance is, they never have the chance to pick up a gong, and we want to right that.

"Cannes seems to love the award and sees it as a worthwhile thing.

"The Palm Dog is perky."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A British film-maker's video diary of Cannes



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