On Not Going to the Cannes Film Festival

This is the time of year when the papers are full of glamour and glitz as the serious media players head out for Cannes for the Film Festival. Beautiful actors and actresses and major moguls will attend cool parties in this enchanting Mediterranean town. Deals will be done. The sun will be hot. The clothes will be expensive. Anyone who is anyone in the film industry will be there.

Naturally, therefore, I won’t be.

I’ve been to Cannes a couple of times, and loved the place, and the people, and the vibe. But I never for a moment felt I belonged. The first occasion was when I was working in television and a friend of mine, who had written part of a film being screened there, invited me out to join him on a no budget basis. This meant sharing a hotel room and never buying food or alcohol. We lived on canapes and champagne, and things dropped in bins.

Last year I actually went with projects to sell and had several meetings. One of the meetings was on a yacht! And the highlight of the whole trip came when I had a drink with a friend who actually knows Elton John and David Furnish. I felt so proud to be in a situation where I knew the time and rough location of Elton’s glitzy villa party, even though I wasn’t of course invited.

Cannes, it seems to me, is a great place for writers to be reminded that they aren’t important, and don’t ever get invited to parties. It’s a chance to savour the delicious joy of being near the red carpet, but not actually standing on it. It’s a window which you can peer through, to see the diners eating expensively inside.

This year, although I’m not going, I have friends who are out there (Hi Carlo! Hi Lisa!) and who will be keeping me up to date on what’s happening. And I’m savouring the glorious epiphany of not being not invited to the cool parties, of not being not at the heart of the glamorous world of the film industry.

For a writer, to be at Cannes is to experience the piquant existential tang of being almost but not famous, and almost but not glamorous. Not being at Cannes, however, is an even more intense and savourable non-experience.

And I treasure it.

The view from the British Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, where I’m not:


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