Last week, I had a very unique opportunity. My father and brother had films at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first time in the history of the festival that father and son directors both had films in the Official Selection and I knew I had to go and support my family and capture the experience in photographs. After all, when one is making history, one must document it.
My father and brother readily agreed to have me follow them around taking pictures; this is not something new for them. I have photographed them literally hundreds of times and I worked as the on-set photographer for each of their films in the Festival, Brandon’s Antiviral and my dad’s Cosmopolis.
My primary goal was to capture the different and unique experiences my father and brother would have at Cannes. Antiviral is my brother’s first feature, while my father is a veteran, having shown films at Cannes several times before. The films were also in separate categories [ Cosmopolis in competition; Antiviral in the Un Certain Regard sidebar] shown at opposite ends of the week, and featured different sized casts. I knew I was presenting myself with a challenge, but it was one I would have regretted not pursuing.
As a veteran of the Toronto International Film Festival, I thought I could readily learn my way around the Festival scene and ensure that I was at my brother’s and father’s sides during their individual moments of glory.
I quickly learned that Cannes is not TIFF.
A festival that has been operating for 65 years develops very strict rules and restrictions that cannot be breached by anyone, let alone a tired-looking brunette who hardly speaks enough French to order lunch. I knew I needed allies and I sought them out in the publicity teams for both films.
Antiviral was shown first, premiering on May 19, in front of a huge crowd. As I stepped out onto the red carpet for the first time, my hands shook and my knees nearly buckled. Never have I seen so many lenses so desperately seeking the same goal: to capture the perfect shot. I felt lucky not to be among them. I was certain I didn’t have the chops. But I had another challenge to face: shooting the carpet from the carpet itself, while simultaneously holding in my uncontrollable tears of pride.
When I saw the response my brother was getting, all that mattered was that we were all in Cannes together. I cannot describe the feeling, but even looking back on that night, I feel the tears beginning.
A full week later, on May 25, it was my father’s turn. Although my father has had films in the festival, this was the first time I was able to share the experience with him. It was glorious. His calm manner put everyone at ease as we travelled by police-escorted caravan down the Croisette, Cannes’s seaside boulevard. We arrived to thousands of voices screaming “ROBERT!” as Robert Pattinson, the lead in Cosmopolis, exited his car and prepared to walk the red carpet. The anticipation was palpable and it is impossible not to let it affect you. My heart began to race, but this was familiar territory now. I held back the tears as best I could, and made sure I paused for a moment to take it all in.
I was with my family in the south of France, and they were making history.
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