My week in midst of stars at Cannes

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The festival opened with stars from  The Great Gatsby  film. It was proud to see Amitabh Bachchan walk in with rest of the cast.

By Manju Mittal

If you are an Indian, Bollywood films are part of growing up. It is great to see the Indian Film Industry being celebrated and honoured on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary at an internationally respected platform like the Cannes Film Festival. This truly signifies the impact India has made on world cinema. Each year Cannes attracts more than 35.000 film professionals and over 4.500 journalists. It is an unparalleled cinema carnival.

On 15th May first day of festival, my initial goal was to get in to Cannes before midday but being first day in Nice I needed to figure out the train timings, the place and I realised that I sort of failed at that goal when I finally got down at the Cannes Festival. I picked up my badge and collected media bag and press screening guide. I was late as I ran into Press Conference room, I saw ”˜The Great Gatsby’ team were leaving the press room, watching Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and  Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio walking together took my breath away. The Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby blockbuster movie was chosen to open the festival this year. The Cannes International Film Festival is a master class in precision. Everything is micro managed, right down to which direction the stars look in as they pose on the red carpet so that the photographers can capture the incredible fashions. Unfortunately the French couldn’t control the weather, which is why on opening night in Cannes, beautifully dressed celebrities struggled to keep billowing gowns and hair in place as rain put a dampener on the famed red carpet.  Despite the rainy wet weather I loved to watch thousands of fans gathered under the umbrellas to grab a glimpse of their favourite stars. Leonardo DiCaprio, director Luhrmann, Tabey Maguire, Isla Fisher and Amitabh Bachchan got a rousing cheer from the crowd, some of whom had stood for hours in heavy rain just for a glimpse.

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The Jury which included Vidya Balan

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Aishverya Rai Bachchan

I also saw the jury of our own Bollywood as Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor, Malika Sherawat, Amisha Patel walked by in their dazzling ethnic dresses. Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor wore saris adding nose ring for good measure while Aishwarya was in elegant black lace print gown with shimmering sequined. Aishwarya, being the brand Ambassador of L’Oreal is a regular at Cannes.

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Manju with Mallika Sherawat

French actress Audrey Tautou hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival 2013. She opened the gala star studded evening with a montage video clip of Spielberg’s greatest movies before the filmmaker took to the stage for a standing ovation and a prolonged. Vidya Balan was honoured as member of the jury along with Nicole Kidman, Anglee Christophwaltz and jury president Steven Spielberg.

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With Karan Johar

The ceremony was declared open by Legend Amitabh Bachchan and Leonardo Di’Caprio. Amitabh Bachchan said in his speech, “Bhartiya cinema 100 varsh poore kar chuki hai aur is avsar par main Cannes Film Festival ko apna aabhar prakat karta hun aur dhanayad deta hun ki unhone   mujhe aaj amantrit kiya aur itne bhavya samaroh mein hume sammanit kiya hai. Dhanyawad”, with those words he expressed gratitude for the invitation to the festival. It was the first time in 66 years that somebody had addressed the audience at Cannes in India’s national language. Without a doubt the 66th Festival is all about the Gatsby as director Baz Luhrmann said that he felt a great honour for all those who have worked on The Great Gatsby to open the Cannes Film Festival.

It was amazing to see Marche du Films in action. In the huge festival venue, I got hopelessly lost for a good amount of time. No matter how hard I tried I never knew exactly where I was. I was incredibly impressed with the organisation as well as quality of the festival. Every day was an opportunity to meet great film makers, celebrities and journalists from around the world. I was sitting down at Cannes Majestic hotel lobby when Australian actress Nicole Kidman walked in, her presence electrified the hotel at Cannes. A few of us pulled out our cameras, Nicole smiled and continued walking before a crowd could gather she slipped into the restaurant area and to a secluded dining space upstairs. Cannes in old times they say is how the festival used to be in the 1970’s and the 80s. Famous actors and filmmakers would walk down the streets mingling with less famous, you could bump into them at lovely restaurants that line the street. Today, Cannes is entirely publicist controlled.

At Cannes Film Festival, it was truly a joy to experience films from all over the world for their big premiere with thousands of people. The gala screening of Bombay Talkies took place in Cannes on May 19. Bombay Talkies is one film comprising of 4 short stories by the 4 directors Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Joya Akhtar. It is a movie made in celebration of 100 years of Indian Cinema and the beginning of a new century of cinema for India.  Before its screening, Karan Johar said, “I am extremely honoured that Bombay Talkies has been officially selected at Cannes and has received such an overwhelming response internationally.”

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Our Aussie queen Nicole Kidman

I personally enjoyed watching Bombay Talkies, it is vibrant and colourful.   Amit Kumar’s film ”˜Monsoon Shootout’ was screening was at The Grand Lumiere theatre. The hall was full and the audience responded to the film with strong applause. ”˜The Lunchbox’, ”˜Ugly’, ”˜Monsoon Shootout’ and  ”˜Bombay Talkies’ are films that have tried to make the global audience realise that contemporary Indian Films have much more to offer than the regular song and dance.

The amfAR’s 20th Annual Cinema against AIDS gala at the Cannes Film Festival paid tribute to late Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor with a gold themed fashion show on Day 9, hosted by actress Sharon Stone. The show also featured designs by Indian designer Tarun Tahillani.   Aishwarya Rai Bachchan stuck to the theme and wore a gold sari by Tahillani, Malika Sharawat opted for a Dolce & Gabbana lace gown. Actors Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Stacy Keibler and models Irina Shayk, Rosie Huntington – Whiteley, Heidi Klum, Liberty Ross, along with singer Kylie Minogue, designer Roberto Cavalli and socialite Paris Hilton were some of the celebrities who attended the event.

Actors Nandita Das, Puja Gupta and Ameesha Patel held the Indian fort at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival. Puja, in a Gauri and Nainka gown, and Ameesha in a Manish Malhotra lehenga attended the premiere of ”˜All Is Lost’. Day 11 of the 66th Cannes film festival saw the screening of director Jim Jarmusch’s retro cool vampire film, ”˜Only Lovers Left Alive’, which was attended by the movie’s cast Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt, among others.

The last couple of days in Cannes were crazy. The rest of my time at Cannes was spent moving to various places. I had fantastic meeting with so many journalists who seemed very interested in my newspaper – The Indian Down Under in Australia. I visited Indian Pavilion few times and met juror Vidya Balan there. She looked happy and relaxed. She said she was having a great time. She also said she had no idea what people were saying about her sartorial choices for the red carpet and she didn’t care. She wanted her choice of clothes to reflect her identity “If I am happy when I look into the mirror, its all good,” she said.

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival finished on Sunday 26th May. Awards were announced at the closing ceremony. Best director & best screenplay: Lavied’Adele, a French film; Best film: Palme D’or Jury prize went to Kore Edo Hirokazu ( Japan);  Debut film winner was ”˜Anthony Chon’ ( Singapore);  Best actress was Berenice Bejo ( France);  Best actor – Bruce Dern in ”˜Nebraska’ ( U.S.A) and short film winner was ”˜Safe by moon’ by Byoung- Gon ( South Korea).

Cannes is an absolutely gorgeous place. Besides festival I loved the night life, the town is lively and awake all night. In Cannes I have seen Sunshine, rain, windy wild, freezing weather in 10 days. Last day only did I remember to tour the town and did some shopping. Plenty of places to eat and drink yet nothing was cheap as it would be during a Festival such as Cannes, even Macdonald’s had raised their prices. Up until then I had been looked after well by Cannes which was like a dream. I had lived every moment, every minute to be near the glamour not just of Hollywood, but Bollywood as well as film personalities from all over the world congregated in one place. It was beyond my expectations. It was the best decision in my life I ever made and thanks to TIDU which got me the media entry though I personally pursued Cannes totally obsessed. It was the best experience ever and I plan to be there again next year.

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