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Festival de Cannes 2013

Last month, I attended the Cannes Film Festival and the award winners this year were very deserving of their accolades and recognition – French sapphic coming-of-age drama BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR won the coveted Palme D’Or and the Coen brother’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, a moody snapshot of the Greenwich village folk singer-songwriter scene of the 1960s, won the Grand Prize.

The Jury, headed by Steven Spielberg with fellow members like Ang Lee and Nicole Kidman among others, also recognized several Asian films. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s magnificent LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, which explores the nature and nurture relationship of fathers and sons, won the Jury Prize; Chinese abutter Jia Zhang-ke’s A TOUCH OF SIN, a scathing commentary on the chasm between the rich and poor in today’s China which is also an homage to King Hu’s A TOUCH OF ZEN won Best Screenplay; and ILO ILO, a Singaporean film by Anthony Chen about a young boy and his relationship with his Filipino nanny during the Asian economic crisis of 1997 was given the Camera d’or.

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The mood of this year’s Cannes was a little muted though. Blame it on the awful and wet weather (as you can see from the photo above of Day #1), with torrential rains that were non-stop for the first 3 days and it was miserable. Wet socks and shoes are never cool and so damn icky.

I employed some quick strategies in-between screenings by heading back to my hotel room and blow drying my shoes.

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Aside from the Festival, the Marche du Film (Cannes Film Market) runs at the same time, with thousands of buyers, sellers and purveyors of film congregate and marinate over one week.

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Aside from the rain, another recurring occurrence was thievery. There were two big jewel heists resulting in the loss of jewelry costing up to $2 million that was stolen out of two hotel rooms; a China Film Group exec’s luggage was stolen out of his rental apartment, the day he arrives resulting in him not attending his big conference for Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut THE MAN OF TAI CHI.

I even had friends who were either pick-pocketed or their rented apartments were burgled with passports, iPads, cash, et al stolen. Even the poor Korean Pavilion’s espresso machine was stolen! Read all about the big heists that happened over at the BBC.

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The gloom and doom was also set by the early bad buzz coming from the films playing. Some of them were real stinkers (THE CONGRESS and Takashi Miike’s SHIELD OF STRAW come to mind), but then the heavens parted and the sun came out. And soon enough, great films were playing again, including my absolute favorite film, THE LUNCH BOX directed by Ritesh Batra. Starring Irrfan Khan (LIFE OF PI), this touching, sweet and funny portrayal of two lost souls in Mumbai, charmed the pants out me. This film is definitely worth checking out and will probably garner some major nominations come awards time this winter. Here’s the synopsis:

A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an old man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. Gradually, this fantasy threatens to overwhelm their reality.

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My final days in Cannes were great. I had a great steak meal, was able to attend a party or two, and even got some karaoke in. And the weather was fantastic:

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