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When your film is accepted at Cannes, you have to go

by Brian Clarey

It’s 52 degrees in the south of France today, well in line with the Mediterranean seasons, and I imagine there’s a stiff wind coming off the bay, gnashing the low waves against the coastal crags and riffling the hairdos of those braving la Croisette this evening, anointing them with mist.

As I write it’s about 9:30 p.m. in Cannes, one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and six hours ahead of our own. People are likely out on the town already, though a few may still be dawdling over seven courses at Auberge Provencale – they eat later over there, don’t they?

Gonna have to find out about that. Because it looks like I’m gonna be shooting over there for this little thing they hold called Festival de Cannes. To screen my film. No big deal.

Actually, it’s a pretty huge deal for me and my teammates at the Keene Collaborative: Our little entry for the 48-Hour Film Project, “JoBeth,” after a successful late-February showing at Filmapalooza in San Jose, Calif., was chosen to be screened at this year’s Festival de Cannes, in the infamous Short Film Corner.

I’ve never been to France before. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never been to an event the size of the Cannes festival (unless Mardi Gras counts) and I never, ever thought something like this would happen because I’ve never written a screenplay before.

It would be accurate to say that I fell ass-backwards into this – Dusty Keene of Schoolkid Chronicles just up and asked me one day to be a part of his 48-hour team. I shrugged my shoulders. Sounded like fun.

And now we’re going to Cannes.

It’s in the extreme southeast of France, I’ve learned, limned by rocky islands where fishermen flourished in the ancient world. It’s survived plague, war and a fight for independence from monks to become one of the most luxurious cities on the Mediterranean coast.

In pictures on the internet it’s all yachts, Belle Epoque architecture, palm trees and terraced balconies set against an impossible aqua sea that froths as it heaves against the shore – and, if you’ve turned off your Google safe search as I have, an astonishing amount of beautiful topless women. Simply astonishing.

I realize we live in the land of Freedom Fries and that not too long ago some of our countrymen were pouring their French wine down their toilets, but France doesn’t look too damn bad from where I’m sitting.

And I’ll tell you this: I am going to this festival. So is Dusty, and so is Matt McNeil, our director who grew up in High Point and who will be flying in from Los Angeles. So are some of the other dozen or so people involved in the production of “JoBeth” during that fateful 48-hour stretch.

It would be ridiculous not to.

The problem, of course, is that we don’t have any money. None of us. Any.

So we have all decided to swallow our personal pride and hold out our hats, hoping that we can raise enough to see this little film to its grand conclusion.

After all, this is a chance not just for this movie to be seen, but for the entire region to be represented on the worldwide stage. There may be dividends. Perhaps one of the hundreds of filmmakers there will see that ours is a fine place to work, and that there’s talent around every turn. Or maybe our story will inspire other members of our creative class to make more great projects – or, at least, stick around town for a few years.

But there’s more going on here: We have a chance to show our film at Festival de Cannes, and we’re asking all of our friends and neighbors, patrons of the arts, civic-minded boosters and lovers of the underdog to help us make it happen.

I myself am risking my journalistic integrity by telling you that we have set up a website, SendUsToCannes.com, where anyone can donate to help us reach our goal, and that we’ll be holding at least one fundraising concert to see of we can scrape up enough dough to make the trip.

Plane tickets will run between $1,000 and $4,800. Each. But the sooner we book the cheaper they’ll be. Hotel rooms in the little beach town will be pretty hard to come by, but we might be able to get one just down the line for a few hundred a night, though again, time is of the essence.

We figure we’re looking at about 10 grand, maybe a little less, perhaps a bit more. That’s a hefty sum to be bandying about, I know, but when it’s the only thing standing between us and the chance to show our film at Cannes, well, we have to suck it up and go for it.

Watch our film on YouTube – search for “JoBeth 48” and it will pop right up – or visit our site at SendUsToCannes.com and click through it. Think about those rocky beaches, that Mediterranean clime, that bustling esplanade crammed with filmdom’s elite. And imagine… just imagine… a team from right here in the North Carolina Triad in the middle of it all.

To comment on this story email Brian Clarey at editor@yesweekly.com.

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