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Dispatches from Cannes: Rhythm, Meetings and Infinite Lines

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There's a rhythm to the Cannes Film Festival. It's the rhythm caused by the restless bodies in endless line-ups, the stomach churn of too much wine and not enough food; laughter true and fixed; the dry clasp of hands when it means everything and when it means absolutely nothing. It's a rhythm soothed by a sun-warmed breeze that blows the melody of human chatter over the deep blue waters of the Riviera.

Now, two days into the festival, it's a rhythm I've grown to discern, if not quite cultivate a taste for.
The day opens on a sour note: the sound of rain in the streets as I wake up from my apartment overlooking the water. Normally I open the bay windows to sun and sea and volleyball but today there's no one on the beach. Pretty sombre by the standards of Cannes.

Once outside, I run into throngs of people walking with purpose and determination and I realize that a little rain isn't going to dampen anyone's love of the movies. Or for striking a deal.
Rodrigo Gudino is keeping a diary of his time at the Cannes Film Festival. You can read his previous entry here.

I have the morning off, so a few of us decide to check out Quebec wunderkind Xavier Dolan's Lawrence Anyways, his much talked about entry into the festival. Thirty minutes of waiting in line is not nearly enough by Cannes standards, however, and before long it becomes obvious that we will not get in. Not us or the fifty people in front of us.

It doesn't matter; when you have a film in Cannes, there's always a meeting you could and probably should be attending. Ours takes place on the second level of the Palais, where representatives for the Brazilian horror god Coffin Joe approach me about helping them get their next film off the ground.

Wrong meeting.

We follow with a sit-down with an interested distributor. They saw my film; they like it. They are serious about an offer. All is good.

Just as word of the evening's first party makes the rounds, the sun peeks out from behind the clouds to justify the use of sunglasses. This is how Cannes likes to party.

It's the party of the Toronto International Film Festival. The place is packed with media, producers, directors and festival programmers. Andrea and Kara ferry me around from handshake to handshake, and I try my best to sound interested. This early in the game, I usually am. In between, my girlfriend Nat tops up my drink with which I wash down hasty mouthfuls of breaded shrimp, chicken kebabs and sushi.

The crowds move around in a slow, noisy circle and I run into fellow Canadian filmmakers Brandon Cronenberg and Matt Sadowski both of whom, like me, have films at the fest. Both look a little overwhelmed by it all, and I get that they haven't yet picked up on that strange rhythm that is the essence of Cannes. Once you know how it plays you just have to follow along like you know it.

That's really all there is to it.