DAY THREE: THE AMERICAN PAVILION
If you’re looking for wi-fi, organic coffee and congenial conversation, chances are you’ll find it at the American Pavilion. Home to film students and execs alike, the tent and the piece of turf it occupies behind the Palais are a business hub, meeting place and “chill area” bordered by a lovely stretch of beach that, for some reason, no one dares venture onto. So although there is undeniably a real aesthetic contribution lent to the venue’s atmosphere by this charming piece of scenography, it unfortunately also necessitates payment up front for anything one orders – since it would be all too easy to polish off a Traditional American Burger and beverage before tiptoeing off, through the sand.
During my first visit there, in the space of five minutes, I met Jay – who was attempting to capture a reflective welcome address on a Canon 7D, delivered by his colleague a few feet away. But from the bracing Cote d’ Azur breeze hammering at the surf behind him, and only the camera’s internal microphone to work with, I figured the guy would have been better off using sign language. Tempted to intervene, I decided against it, for fear of being classified, in my first Pavilion visit, as a wisenheimer. And a few minutes later, I met Ken, Craig, Janice, Kirsten and Nilsa – two of whom I managed to have meaningful conversations with. So for half an hour of simply hanging out, the networking opportunities of this stretch of carpet were clearly turning out to be voluminous.
It was at their official Opening Cocktail Party the next evening, however, that it became apparent just how many business cards one can collect. Besides the numerous writer/ directors, producers, agents and journalists who were there, from countries as far afield as Nigeria and Jordan, we had the rare opportunity to meet a Superstar Italian DJ, who refused to remove his shades, as well as a number of sincerely loopy individuals who shall remain descriptively incognito (you never know who may be reading your blog, especially when you hand out cards featuring a web address). And once the noise, Euro lounge music and crowds had dissipated, we headed off – down the bustling insanity of the Croisette – towards a superb Lebanese restaurant, where Danny Glover was being gently accosted by dining fans as he attempted to leave.
Although the evening was packed with stellar photo-op moments, a fireworks display viewed from the terrace of the Marriot, an inordinate amount of nonsensical conversation and miles of navigation through Dior-daubed crowds (where you are almost guaranteed to emerge wearing someone else’s makeup) perhaps the single most striking event was the conversation I had with Jay, the videographer I had met the previous morning.
After crossing his path at the party, out of genuine curiosity I enquired about the footage of his colleague’s welcome address. And as it turns out, the audio had been a little problematic. But just as I was prevaricating between guilt, for not intervening, and smugness – in a shameful mental “told you so” – he related, to my astonishment, that he had managed to salvage it on iMovie. Yet again, indomitable American spirit had won through. And I couldn’t help reflecting on how different the endings of our movies – and indeed so many of our private endeavors – would be without this remarkable characteristic. It was evident in the meticulously-maintained Pavilion, the staff, the air of the place. The mettle that had driven mild-mannered Jay to battle the elements on a tinny set of laptop speakers was the stuff of superheroes. Is there even a grade of kryptonite strong enough to snuff it out?