Cannes Washout: Rain-Drenched Glamour on the Cote d'Azur
Industry players are frantically moving events indoors and off the beach, but cold and rain on the Croisette hasn't dampened the Cannes party spirit.
The weather in Cannes went from bad to absolutely miserable Saturday, as temperatures dropped, dark clouds gathered and a bracing wind kicked up off the Cote d’Azure, sending event planners scrambling to prevent their long-anticipated weekend parties from being washed out and laid to waste.
"It’s great movie-watching weather!," exclaimed Palme d'Or winner and former Cannes jury president Wim Wenders, optimistically, when asked about the deluge. Moments later, however, the director of Pina -- in town to drum up pre-sales for his new 3D drama Everything Will Be Fine starring James Franco -- had to seek new shelter when the garden tent he was standing under started to leak ominously.
While cranes and crews of workers constructed protective berms in front of the beachside party tents, attendees throughout Cannes struggled -- mostly in vain -- to stay dry, as umbrellas provided little protection from the gusting rain and ankle deep puddles that spanned sidewalks. "If only I'd brought my rubber boots to go with the tux," said a European producer as he shook water from a drenched pair of loafers.
One Cannes festival staffer suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that party-going ladies should simply indulge in a “chevalier servant,” the traditional French custom of employing a man helper to carry a woman’s gown and umbrella. “Every woman should have one!,” he enthused.
Further down the Crosette, an ambulance was being called for one unfortunate market attendee who slipped and hit her head outside the Olympia theater.
And at Baoli Beach, where the hot-ticket Hunger Games party was scheduled to take place, workmen were broodingly giving their tents a thorough structural once-over to make sure they’d be able to withstand the elements.
A few notable afternoon events managed to turn the inclement scene to their advantage.
Organizers at the Quebec Pavilion said they had been anticipating about 100 people for their annual patio cocktail lunch; instead they ended up with over 300 industry guests crowded into their tented space. "People want to escape from the rain and this is like a big umbrella," said Francois Macerola, CEO of the Society of Cultural Development Quebec.
The American Pavilion was similarly packed out. “Last year the weather was bad too, so we planned ahead and made sure to have enough indoor space this time,” said Sylvia Desrochers, president of Big Time PR, on behalf of the pavilion. The American team even sent out a widely circulated email to their industry contacts Saturday, inviting buyers and sellers to come enjoy a hot cup of coffee and use their dry space for meetings.
Deals indeed were being hashed out the old fashioned way – huddled over meeting tables or on the market sales floor -- rather than on the back of yachts or over flutes of champagne.
"Now we don't have any excuse not get some work done," quipped German media mogul Herbert Kloiber of Tele Munchen Group.
"I would like to curl up in bed, but unfortunately it's business as usual,” said buyer Mirjam Wertheim, president of Orange Entertainment. “I am Dutch so I grew up biking in the rain and being drenched in school. This all brings me back to my youth!"
Dudley Nevill-Spencer, founder of Brand Revolution -- which planned the yacht party on Thursday for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and a dinner on Friday for Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Harvey Weinstein – said they were re-jigging their original plans for a yacht dinner tonight honoring Carey Mulligan. “It's rained for a solid 12 hours so we're shifting the cocktail party to a more intimate and casual hot buffet.”
“Whatever the weather it will still be an amazing night,” he added.
"We're brave and not afraid of the rain,” said Emma Griffiths, PR for the American Pavillion. “This is the greatest film festival in the world and we should all be happy to be here. Even if it's raining, there's a lot of magic that goes on."