Screenwriting, me & Cannes Film Festival


Cannes Film Festival attracts thousands of industry professionals

Note:  As I write this, my daughter Emma Palova-Chavent is at the actual 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France that started on May 15th  and runs through May 26th.

 A big chapter in my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” is dedicated to my career as a journalist after coming to the USA. That was one of my many dreams to write for newspapers like Earnest Hemingway did, and then make a full-blown switch to literature and film.

So, here we go. Lights, camera, action.

 I covered the film festival twice in 2010 and 2011 for a conglomerate of newspapers J-Ad Graphics as part of my journalism and freelance career. I was among the 30,000 reporters from all over the world who had descended onto the beautiful city nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Maritime Alps.

This is what I wrote after coming back:

“Experiencing Cannes Film Festival, held annually in the French Riviera, is like flying to the International Space Station and making it back. Not everyone gets to do it, and not everyone wants to do it. It’s riveting, it’s moving, it’s inspiring, and it shows that anything is possible.”

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The cast of Pedro Almodovar’s film the “Skin I Live In” with Antonio Banderas in Cannes.

The biggest driving force to go to the festival was my own screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns,” which is registered with the Writers Guild of America, West.

While covering the making of Jerry Zandstra’s movie “Genesis Code,” which was partially filmed in Lowell and Grand Rapids, my interest shifted to screenwriting. I purchased “Final Draft” software, and I was on my way to the stars in Cannes.

At the time during the economic recession of late 2000s my husband Ludek was working in Wisconsin, and I was alone with my dog Haryk. I was writing for the Lowell Ledger and the Grand Rapids Magazine.

It was an ideal scenario for writing a script. I already had the setting, the main character, the plot and the driving force.  The screenplay was inspired by a real clown parade that was held to celebrate 175th anniversary of Lowell.

A  local resident Dave Thompson came to see me in my cubicle office. He told me he was organizing a clown parade. That was the spark that ignited the screenwriter in me.

“I am going to have a clown band from Scottville and clowns from all over,” Thompson said. “It’s been a heck of a deal to put this together.”

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Emma Palova behind a pirate prop at the Cannes Film Festival 2011.

It took me four months to write the screenplay. I wrote every day after writing at work.

When I finished  the last scene where the main character washes off the clown paints in the river that turn it red, I got up from the chair and my hair was standing straight up Mohawk style.

“I did it,” I said to myself.

I plan on going to the Cannes Film Festival again with my movies including the “Riddleyville Clowns” and “Greenwich Meridian where East meets West.” I am also writing  a screenplay based on the memoir.

With its dynamics and exotic locales, the immigration saga has a potential for series just like the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the Godfather.

The fourth pirate movie premiered at Cannes in 2011. For the event, the city decks out with sponsor posters, banners, billboards. The actual screenings of films with the cast and the producers take place in the evening.

Those who receive tickets to the screening from the producers walk the red carpet to the Festival Palace, much like the celebrities. Thousands of people and paparazzi watch the evening processions to the screening. That in itself is a huge show. There is a mandatory dress code to the screenings.

The core of the festival is the competition of the selected films by the jury. The winners are awarded the Golden Palm during the final ceremonies on Sunday.

Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

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