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Begging, Bamboozling, and B.S.ing: How to Cheat the Badge System at Cannes

UPenn and Cannes

Yesterday, our Penn in Cannes 2010 DT correspondent Chloe Castellon (C’11) reviewed some of the winner and horribly awful films of this year’s film festival.

In today’s post, Chloe talks about the badge system and how to con your way into some of the better theatres.

More insight (and photos of some of the theaters to avoid) from Chloe after the jump!

>”As explained by previous DT correspondents (here and here), the Cannes Film Festival is an exclusive affair, one which grants access based on a hierarchal points system which takes into account status in the industry and status within the festival.

The ‘Cinephile Badge’, the only badge available to pure film fans and students, allows the very least access. Technically ‘Cinephiles’ should only be allowed to use a few main theatres and certain ‘Cinephile’ theatres that are at least fifteen minutes out of the main town and many times are falling apart with graffiti, duck-taped seats, and little to no air conditioning. The worst part about these ‘Cinephile’ theatres is that they only play films with French subtitles, so if you don’t speak the film’s language or French, the films played there are impossible to watch. I would suggest avoiding these theatres by trying to beg, bamboozle, or B.S. your way into better theatres, all with English subtitles.

UPenn and Cannes
Grafitti at a ‘Cinephile’ theatre
UPenn and Cannes
Taped up chairs at a ‘Cinephile’ theatre

The Debussy and the Theatre Croisette are the only theatres that allow Cinephiles with only a badge: the Debussy showcasing Un Certain Regard films, or the category of films which seeks out fresh talent, and the Theatre Croisette showing Director’s Fortnight films which present more innovative films than the main competition. These theatres are generally easy to get into, though the Debussy is tougher than the Theatre Croisette because the Debussy lets in Cinephiles only after letting in press and higher badges, whereas the Theatre Croisette only prioritizes press. I’d suggest making use of these theatres as the films tend to be more interesting than the main competition films anyway.

UPenn and Cannes
One fantastic ticket into the festival

To get into any other main festival theatre a ticket is required. The Cinephile tent provides tickets for special screenings and sometimes main competition films if you can get there early enough to get them before the swarms descend.

  • You can also beg for a ticket by standing outside of the Palais to the right of the Lumiere and holding a sign requesting a ticket from industry professionals. Other good begging spots are outside of the international pavilion entrance, or behind the Palais. Since the professionals are at the festival to make deals, not see films, but are penalized if they don’t use their tickets, they have an incentive to give us beggars tickets. Last year they changed the system slightly, however, so that now there are two kinds of tickets, one beige and one blue, and Cinephiles can only get in with blue tickets. Luckily, there is a loophole: if you have a beige ticket, you just need a person with a blue badge or higher to say that you are their guest, and the security guards have to let you in, even if you have no badge at all. The other option is market screenings. A little over half of these screenings are in the Palais or the international pavilion theatres, both of which you will need a higher pass to get into, or a little B.S.ing skill. 
  • It is easy to sneak into the international pavilion from the back area, and if you can con the security guard at the entrance, it is fairly easy to get into screenings. Once again, having a person with a higher badge say that you are their guest or assistant is almost a surefire way to get into these screenings. 
  • The other half of the market screenings are held in local Cannes movie theatres, and are a mixed bag in terms of security. Sometimes you will get in after all potential buyers, distributers or press get in, sometimes you will get in saying you are with someone with a higher badge, sometimes you will con your way in by saying you are working for a company or are a friend of the director/producer/production company, and sometimes you will be flat-out denied. 

To summarize, don’t be shy about begging, asking industry professionals to say that you are with them, or telling fabulous lies about what distribution company you work for or who you are friends with. Worst case scenario, the Debussy and the Theatre Croisette are excellent fallback options, and in the very worst case scenario, there are the Cinephile theatres.”

UPenn and CannesAll 2010 Penn in Cannes film festival coverage HERE

2009 Penn in Cannes film festival coverage HERE

2008 Penn in Cannes film festival coverage HERE

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