On April 1st, I got a phone call from Monika Skerbelis, director of the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes. She said “get your beret ready because you’re going to Cannes!” Considering it was April Fool’s Day, I thought this could be a very cruel joke. Amazingly, it was not a joke and that started the adventure that is still a bit of a blur: Adonis at the Cannes Film Festival.
After hearing the news, I recruited our producer, Erik Wong, to join me on the trip to the Cannes since he has a lot of world travel experience. It was a pleasant surprise when Adonis lead actress Velinda Godfrey wanted to join our trek. With the Adonis Entourage assembled, we began a great adventure that included traveling by train through Switzerland, France and Italy, where we met fantastic new friends.
Chaos at Cannes
The Cannes Film Festival is crazy! When we arrived, we were thrown into a massive swarm of thousands of people. We had no idea which way was up. Luckily, Monika is one of the coolest people on the planet and held us by the hand to show us the basics: The Palais des Festivals (where everything for the festival happens), the pavilions (basically like embassies for the different participating countries) like the American Pavilion, how to catch a bus to our hotel in Cannes la Bocca (about a 15 minute ride away) and how to sign up to see films and red carpet events. It still took us another two days to figure this out. There seemed to be about 6 different handouts to figure out schedules.
Nothing seemed to have maps. Booking a screening seemed almost impossible as they sold out the minute the bookings were opened online. This clearly was not a filmmaker-friendly festival as many festivals boast to be. However, it was beyond exciting to have Adonis part of the Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious festival in the world!
The American Pavilion was our retreat from the chaos of Cannes. There we could relax, get free internet and meet up with other filmmakers. They also had food, drinks and nightly parties. Adonis was screening as part of the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase and we got to hang out and party with our very cool fellow filmmakers with movies screening at the American Pavilion such as People Aren’t All Bad (Matthew Hashiguchi), 9-1-1 (Andrew Fairbank, Mark Mulcahy, Gerrard Wilson, Roberta Gerry), A 2nd Opinion (David Gunning, David Del Rio), Advantage Weinberg (David Singer) Raising the Titanic (Alex Mitchell) and Brother (Sari Rodrig, Jerome Leroy). We’d start out at the American Pavilion’s nightly party then venture to the bars in Cannes.
Someone described Cannes as “Hollywood on Steroids” and I’d say that was very fitting. Clearly, the festival is more of a market than a film festival. Producers are there to make deals with distributors. A little short film like Adonis doesn’t fit into this atmosphere at all. However, there was the Short Film Corner, where short films were shown in a library-type setting where distributors, producers, festival directors and others could view the films. There were 1,945 films in the Short Film Corner, making it difficult to stand out. There were specific areas to hang postcards and small posters and all of us filmmakers scrambled to do that. As soon as you left the room, another filmmaker certainly taped over your posters to highlight their movie. So, you had to regularly return to the Corner and tape over another filmmaker’s posters. This whole process seemed rather silly to me. Luckily, the films in the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase, like Adonis, were highlighted in the Short Film Corner program, so hopefully this made them get more attention than others.
Another part of the Hollywood scene were private parties and yachts. Who is cool enough to get into these? Who has the best schmoozing skills to talk themselves onto a yacht party? Clearly not Erik or I. However, Velinda, being that she is a tad more breathtaking than Erik or I, was invited to several of these parties and even got onto a yacht…twice! In fact, we called that yacht “Velinda’s Yacht.”
She confided that this was one of the first times she has definitely felt the advantage of being a female. She took advantage of these invitations and stocked her purse full of Adonis postcards. She needed more every day, so clearly she was passing them out and spreading the word. They were probably used as drink coasters on the yacht, but the Adonis logo was on people’s minds. She talked up the movie (and the director) to everyone she met at Cannes. It was really awesome to have someone on the team that was proud to be part of the film and actively supported and promoted Adonis.
Being lost in the “Hollywood on Steroids” didn’t seem to mean much until screening day. All of the years of work and people involved with Adonis finally mattered. It was a true surprise when Adonis was announced as the winner of the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase as I thought all of the films were really good and any of them could have taken the prize. I think all of us filmmakers in the showcase should be really proud. I’m proud that Adonis got to play alongside such quality work.
Winning at Cannes is a major step for Adonis. Hopefully this will garner attention so that the film can be shown at more festivals, to more audiences, and move all of us on to bigger things. I’m very proud of this moment and very proud of all of the cast and crew that worked to make Adonis possible. The Adonis adventure is just beginning…