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Cannes Diary: Selling films at the Cannes Market

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen poses with a camel during a photo call for his film ‘The Dictator’ at Cannes on Wednesday. (AP/Francois Mori)

Image-making is everywhere in Cannes: banks of photographers line the red-carpeted steps to the Grand Theatre Lumiere, locals set up ladders in a thin median between the streets, which they occupy from early morning.

Every day, there are five festival trade dailies that cover films and deals about films, which may or may not ever get made. Filmmakers and producers descend on Cannes in part with the hope of getting a meeting that may lead to money for a project. In reality, the thousands of films talked about and shown in the Cannes Market (producers, sales agents and distributors rent theatres here for screenings) are films no one’s ever heard of and probably never will hear of again. At any one moment, you could check out 20 to 30 films playing. Right now one could see Drift (about Australian surfing moguls), She (a Thai film about a woman dying of cancer who finds love at the end) or Excision, described as “life sucks at 17.” No kidding.

Taking advantage of all the press here, Sacha Baron Cohen staged a stunt to – what else – promote his new film, The Dictator. Dressed in full character and riding a camel, Baron Cohen headed out on the main street, the Croisette, stopped before the nearest café and ordered drinks – one for himself and one for the camel. Immediate effect: He caused a traffic jam. 

A local Frenchman walking down the street remarked, “Il y a un chameau sur la Croisette,” There is a camel on the Croisette.

Obviously, he’d seen stranger things at Cannes than this.

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