Cannes Film Festival and Motherhood

The Cannes Film Festival ends today.  Earlier in the week, my dad sent me a note with a link to the latest news article about Cannes and a note asking where I was, if I wasn’t at the festival. 15 year ago, in 2003, I worked at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a festival, easily recognizable as one of the, if not the biggest film festivals in the world. I had the privilege of landing an internship with Kodak, through my Master’s in Film program, and I worked inside the Film Market (or Marché du Film in French), which is where films are screened, bought and sold throughout the festival.  I was assigned to work at a booth of an American based company that was a support system for small production companies. It was one the most surreal events of my life. Walking down the main road each day on my way to work, listening to the movie scores being played in hidden speakers in the bushes and showing my badge to the man at the “staff only” door, of a building people would kill to walk inside. My friends and I were able to obtain tickets to the World Premier screening of the Gus Van Sant film called Elephant, a film based on school shootings. Sadly, though probably influenced by Columbine, the theme continues to make headlines today. Any ticket holding audience member walks the red carpet, a feeling unparalleled as you stand in front of the main doors and turn to look back down at the red carpet. It was before Facebook or Instagram so nothing was ever posted of my red carpet walk. Inside we discovered that we had been seated three rows in front of the entire cast of the film. We watched in amazement, inside one of the best theaters in the world, a film, that would that year, win the Palm D’Or (Best Picture) Award. We stood outside the theater days later to watch live as Gus Van Sant accepted the award on behalf of the film.

We had arrived in Cannes a week before the festival started and watched as the tents began to go up along the waterfront and the magic unfolded. I spent time inside those fancy tents set up for the American filmmakers.   We went to the fancy, famous hotels on the strip that movie stars have been going to since the 1946.  And then we watched as the tents came down, and the city returned to its regular life.  It was an unparalleled experience that I often think of in terms of a hazy memory of something I must have dreamed up, and I usually only remember it, when I see a yearly post somewhere about who walked that same red carpet I did.

I’m a Mom now! Instead of walking the red carpet this May, I walked into my living room on Mother’s Day and opened hand made gifts from my children, including homemade plates with their handprints and projects they had done in a science class. I never would have imagined I’d walk the red carpet in Cannes and I never imagined I’d have kids who made their own Mother’s Day gifts.  So no, I’m not in Cannes this year, and I may or may not ever return.  One thing I have learned though, is that no red carpet can ever trump to a little person saying, “Mommy, I love you, you’re the best.” But it was pretty cool! 

 Grande Theater Lumière Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

Grande Theater Lumière Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

 Grande Theater LumièreCopyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

Grande Theater LumièreCopyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

 Marche du film. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

Marche du film. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

 Back lot areas. Pass only area. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

Back lot areas. Pass only area. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

 american Pavilion tent. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

american Pavilion tent. Copyright 2003 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.