Cannes Film Festival 2011: Informal observations on the state of France

May 10, 2011

Editor's Note:  Worldview film contributor Milos Stehlik is in Cannes, France for the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.  He'll be blogging for us throughout the duration of the event. 

Here's his first post, "Informal observations on the state of France a day before the Cannes Film Festival begins"

The seams are showing

The perfection that defines France as a country (after all, they spent the most time thinking and writing about the social contract) seems to be fraying just a little: more people panhandling on the streets, more empty stores.

Underneath the sign for BNP (Societe General, one of the major French banks), a young homeless man was carefully making his bed in the doorway for the night. Ironically, this is the same bank which lost $7 billion when the “rogue” trader made bogus trades under its radar.

A filmmaker friend is worried that the economy will get worse because the European Union may unravel, with the recent news that Greece may opt out of the Euro money zone and go back to its own currency.

Sarkozy and the political future

Sarkozy does not seem to be much liked by anyone. But many people fear that the Socialist party won’t get it together to put up a good candidate, which will leave the door open for the extreme right, the National Front.

His wife, billed as Carla Bruni (sans Sarkozy) has a role in the opening night film of the Cannes Film Festival, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Sarkozy is here in Cannes, too, but as a character in a much-awaited fiction film by Xavier Durringer, The Contest. Set in 2007, during the run-up to the French presidential elections, it recalls Sarkozy’s rise to power, and is described as “the story of a man gaining power and losing his wife.”

More on the economy

Prices have gone up in the past year, and the price of food is beyond belief. Dinner at an average restaurant is a minimum of 30 Euros. Of course, the weak dollar – at around $1.50 per Euro, doesn’t help. How we age: I remember when the Euro was 70 cents.

Woody Allen is always alive, but Bin Laden is dead

Roland Dumas, lawyer and former French minister was on a TV talk show to do a post-mortem on the death of Bin Laden, and got a little mixed up and exclaimed, “Woody Allen is always alive…who has seen Woody Allen dead in this story?” to which the TV host responded, “Haven’t you mixed up Woody Allen with Bin Laden?”

Dumas defended himself by saying “You know what? That’s because this is not a question, it’s a film.”

No doubt, Dumas had the opening of the Cannes Film Festival on his mind.