Can you help me become famous?
A young man in a black suit pokes his head around the corner of our little office at the Cannes film festival and asks whether I can help. Im an actor, he says. Im not well known at all. No-ones ever heard of me. Can you help me become famous?
He explains he is sleeping on the beach and bluffing his way into receptions by dressing like a security guard. Ill do anything, he says.
I never discover his name but he embodies a phenomenon that is almost as integral to the Cannes film festival as the red carpet and the stars, namely the desperate struggle of the unknowns.
If you don’t have a pass for screenings or press and promotional events it needs cunning and determination even to get in the door and enter a different realm from the tourists who crowd around the entrance to the main festival hall with signs asking for spare invitations.
More than one independent film maker sits on the Croisette busking his unfinanced projects while passers-by take pictures with their mobile phones. It seems hard to believe they have much luck.
On closer inspection, the suit worn by the young man who stopped in our office had the fatally shabby look of an ill-fated social climber in a Balzac novel and his naively direct approach was probably not the most profitable to take. Even young hopefuls with more obvious advantages struggle to get past the security guards in the big hotels and marquees.
I put on big sunglasses and act like a star, explains one actress, trying to step up from the minor roles in horror films that she has had so far. Her striking looks and confident personality no doubt help and she at least is sleeping in a hotel room, albeit on someone else’s floor.
But it still doesn’t sound like much fun.