A few days ago, someone commented to a post I wrote on the parties at Sundance, questioning whether anybody saw or cared about Sundance movies. It was the middle of the festival, and I didn’t have a chance to answer. Another responder did, however, point out this year’s best Oscar nominee “Little Miss Sunshine” was a Sundance 2005 film.
The sun shone brightly on “Little Miss Sunshine” in Hollywood’s Oscar race on Monday after the film’s cast won the Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble. If last year’s SAG win by the cast of “Crash” is any indication, then “Sunshine,” takes the front runner position in the Oscar sweepstakes.
I began this blog on Tuesday by saying that it had started snowing. The big issue for many of the less well-heeled among us — those without heavy duty limos and helicopters — is whether the snow that has built up all day will let us get home now that the World Economic Forum’s meeting is essentially over.
What business wants business (often) gets. Many of the executives popping in and out of panel discussions in Davos this week have been pushing harder than usual for a resumption of the stalled Doha round of world trade talks. Abracadabra! A meeting of government ministers on the sidelines, to use the jargon, agreed to get the ball rolling again.
On Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild presents its annual awards. Usually, the winners of the SAG awards go on to win Academy Awards. With this year’s Oscar nominations thrown into chaos after presumed front-runner “Dreamgirls” was left out of a Best Picture nomination, the SAGs gain special importance.
Royal-watchers could have had a pretty good time in Davos. The king and queen of Jordan, who host a Middle East Davos most years on the banks of the Dead Sea, have been speaking. Britain’s Duke of York has been wandering about. So has Belgium’s Prince Philippe.
But one Royal that has not been here is Segolene, presidential candidate for France’s Socialists. Nor for that matter have many French officials, candidates or otherwise, been around. Germany, Britain, the United States, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa have been most evident. La France, non.
The reason, French journalists say, is that Davos is altogether too into globalisation for gallic taste. Irony of ironies, then, that one of the top Frenchmen here is Pascal Lamy, secretary general of the World Trade Organisation.
France’s Davosophobia has triggered the ire of at least one of the country’s columnists — Nicolas Barre in Le Figaro. His gist is that France is hurting itself by snubbing Davos. That France is angry about globalisation is nothing new, he says, but that is no reason to shout it from the rooftop of the world.
The snow is falling heavily and there is a kind of end-of-term feeling in Davos as the WEF annual meeting enters its last full day. Not a bad time, then, to ask why people really bother to come here.
There is a lot of scepticism among outsiders that Davos is just a big talking shop, full of self-importance and hot air. Some of this doubtless comes from the way the WEF presents itself. “Shaping the Global Agenda” is hardly a modest goal.
People who come to Davos are a sophisticated lot but a little celebrity can cause a frisson in even the most jaded boardroom executive. No question where the excitement was in Davos on the third day — the Africa session.
There was Bono, who took off his Fidel Castro cap beforehand, and Tony Blair, who still has the power to draw a crowd despite an upcoming departure. Bill Gates was also there. That was enough to guarantee a rapt audience.
What seems to be different is that people are not just wringing their hands about Africa and wondering if it will ever get out from under its corruption and debt burden. They are
talking up good news. Immunization is improving, education is more widespread and money is moving in.
I asked Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete — Davos is that kind of place — whether things really were getting better sub-Sahara. He said yes, at least compared with a few years ago.
(Pictures: Bono wanders through the crowd (left), Blair and Bono (Reuters/right)