Cannes or bust: Local filmmakers report on their trip to the prestigeous film festival

Katie Damien and Lela Winton at Cannes Film Festival
Katie Damien and Lela Winton at Cannes Film Festival

Scroll down for the full week’s worth of posts.

Local filmmakers Katie Damien and Lela Winton are part of the Gorilla with a Mustache Films crew who attended the Cannes Film Festival (yes, the one in France) to screen their short comedy, Joint Effort.

The group spent a week in that glamorous locale, taking in wonderful films, eating French food, imbibing champagne and rubbing elbows with celebs. Damien and Winton sent back updates — e-postcards, if you will. See info on the film at the bottom of the page.

Antibes street scene
Antibes street scene

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May 24

On this, my final day at Cannes I find myself reminiscing over the time I’ve had. It all feels like a wonderful dream that I don’t want to wake up from. I’ve had drinks on a yacht, crashed parties, met celebrities, seen amazing movies and walked the red carpet. And I’ve made so many great contacts in my time here. Today was a day of movie watching. I saw tons of short films and made it to the last feature film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigsby.

I could not have hoped for a better experience here. I am now full of excellent food, Wine and wonderful memories. When I get home I will begin contacting the many people I’ve met here. I hope that every filmmaker has the opportunity make it to the Cannes Film Festival. And I hope to return again soon. — Katie

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May 23

Tonight is the 20th anniversary of Pulp Fiction winning the Palm D’Or at Cannes. We celebrated with Tarantino, Thurman, Travolta and Weinstein on the beach at a special screening — so fun! Cannes does these great free beach screenings every night but the special screening of Pulp Fiction was something special. The crowd was ecstatic. People were shouting favorite lines, cheering, whooping and laughing loud together. I could just barley see Quentin Tarantino from where I sat and he seemed just as excited as ever to be showing his film to a crowd.

Lela at press conferenceMost of the festival attendees have packed up and left so there was not a whole lot of work getting done today. Katie and I broke into the press conference area though for some great photos (see above). — Lela

View of Cannes
View of Cannes

• • •

Things are really starting to wind down for the Cannes Film Festival.  Lela and I went to the Marche du film, but found it fairly sparse. After playing around in the press conference area, we decided to do a little sightseeing. And who should we meet at the top of the tower at a museum, but the very people we were looking for earlier: film distributors (below). We exchanged cards and even showed them our trailer on the iPad we are always carrying around. We ended the day with a beach screening of Pulp Fiction introduced by none other than Quentin Tarantino. It was a great end to a great day. — Katie

Film Distributors

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May 22

Today a young Frenchwoman (named Alice, pictured below) accidentally spilled her wine all over Lela’s dress. By way of apology, she got us two tickets to a red carpet screening premiere with celebrities in attendance. When Lela and I went on the red carpet before, it was early in the day and there were no celebrities or photographers around. This was the real deal. It was all at the last minute, and because I wasn’t expecting it, I was not properly dressed. I had to literally run to the apartment and back to get there in time. I put on my Ship to Shore dress again in record time. — Katie

New french friend

Katie at a screening in Cannes
Katie at a screening in Cannes

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May 21

Spent a great day with David and Tina in nearby Antibes while Billy Goodrum did photo shoots, dinners, press functions, etc.  I finally got to wear my Ship to Shore dress for a screening. I turned many a head in it.

Dress by R. Brooke Priddy, Ship to Shore
Dress by R. Brooke Priddy, Ship to Shore

At the end of the day Lela and I  reconnected with our esteemed composer Billy Goodrum who you can see in red carpet photos standing next to Sophia Loren! I didn’t get to chat with her, but did speak with her director son who is charming and very nice even though he must have been exhausted. Billy, Lela and I went for drinks with the George Clooney of Italy, Enrico Lo Verso [see photo at top of page]. Oh la la was he handsome!  And so chivalrous, too. He escorted Lela and me home after he broke up a bar fight. What a man. — Katie

From left: Enrico Lo Verso, Lela, Katie, Billy Goodrum and friend
From left: Enrico Lo Verso, Lela, Katie, Billy Goodrum and friend

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May 20

Today we screened Joint Effort for a packed theater.  People laughed and seemed to enjoy the movie. It was great to have David Ostergaard and Tina Herring join us, as well as Billy Goodrum, our composer. Billy also had another movie screening at Cannes. Lela and I went to his other screening, where Sophia Loren attended. She is amazingly beautiful at any age! A full and wonderful day. — Katie

Screening of "Joint Effort"
Screening of “Joint Effort”

Joint Effort team

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May 19

The most exciting thing that happened today was running into Benicio Del Toro on the street!  Then chasing after him and grabbing a quick selfie. He was just so cool.

Today was my first day to walk the red carpet. Lela and I had to wait in the rain on the off chance there was extra space in an afternoon screening. We were lucky enough to get into a screening of Foxcatcher. Excellent movie.  I have never seen Steve Carell in that type of dark role and he was amazing. The screening was in the middle of the day so there were no stars around to join us in our walk up but still very thrilling to be walking on the red carpet for the first time. — Katie

Editor’s note: Read Entertainment Weekly‘s take on Foxcatcher here.

Katie, Benicio del Toro and Lela
Katie, Benicio del Toro and Lela

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May 18

I can’t believe it’s only been a few days — I’m starting to loose track. I’ve done so many amazing things at the Cannes Film Festival. Today, on a whim, Lela and I walked past the rows of multimillion dollar yachts looking for a man I flew in with who invited me aboard his yacht for drink. It was a very casual invitation and I wasn’t sure if we would ever actually be able to connect. Not only did he have us come aboard for drinks, but we met other amazing filmmakers, distributors and even a reporter from CNN. We had an amazing lunch followed by cheesecake and the strongest thimbleful of espresso I have ever had. We shared stories and screened a short film by one of the filmmakers. It was a phenomenal afternoon with a fabulous host! — Katie

Lela and Katie were invited onto a yacht.
Lela and Katie were invited onto a yacht.

•••

Third day here at Cannes. Started out great with a red carpet screening of Tommy Lee Jones’s new movie called The Homesman, also staring Hilary Swank. It was a pretty good film over all, though not as good as True Grit, from a few years ago, which it was strikingly similar to. After a huge tank drove down the road with the entire all-star cast of The Expendables 3 sitting on top, drawing all the tourists out to the Coisette and making walking much easier, we then moved onto a great afternoon on a swanky yacht with lots of big movie professionals. Today was full of delicious food and delightful company. Even a few good films thrown and for good measure. More tomorrow! — Lela

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May 17

Hi Asheville! Having a great time here at the Cannes film Festival. Today I got my first pass to a grand theater premier: The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones. His directorial debut! It’s screening tomorrow morning, so wish me luck.

Lela photo

The festival is huge and busy with people everywhere. The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful and incredibly blue. There are people from all over the world and the hotels really know how to do it up in style! Last night I went to a cocktail party at the Thailand pavilion and had some great food and conversation.

Our screening for Tuesday is filling up with 70% of the seats already accounted for. Still have seven days to go at the festival, and have seen quite a few stars and directors. Really looking forward to meeting more people. Tonight we are going to a cocktail party on a quarter billion dollar yacht. #excited! — Lela

Lela and Katie on the red carpet
Lela and Katie on the red carpet

•••

The big news of the day was the two parties we crashed at night. Lela and I went to a party hosted by Thailand. It was by invitation only and we were lucky enough to score two invitations standing in line! The princess of Thailand was there, there were live performances and films shown. We sipped our drinks and ate fantastic Thai food. Then it was off to the next big party of the night, hosted by Germany. We did not have invitations and were nearly stopped by security but somehow managed to finagle our way in. We hobnobbed with German filmmakers for a while, then strolled past the yachts before calling it a night. — Katie

•••

Had an amazing night. Started off the evening meeting some great filmmakers who hooked us up with a gentleman who got us in to the Thai national films party. It was a huge deal — very exclusive. Only about 100 people got in. Her Royal Highness the princess of Thailand was there and gave a talk and then there was a live film/Thai boxing demonstration, drinks and food. It was amazing! Then we casually snuck into a beach party for the German film commission. It was a huge party and also very exclusive. After the German Party we headed out to yacht row. The yachts were bumping with parties. Someone mistook me for a star and introduced me to their group as if I was Amy Adams. Now we are back at our apartment getting ready to sleep, because I have a red carpet screening tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. for The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones. — Lela

Cannes 2

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May 16

Flying in, I had a bit of an ordeal with getting to France. But it turned out to be a match made in heaven when I flew from London straight into Nice.  On my flight [I] saw not only Guy Pierce (who probably would have been completely cool but I was too intimidated by to even approach) but also Matt Smith — the new Dr. Who — who was super friendly and awesome. He was much more approachable, so [below] is his photo. Very nice guy. Finally [to] Cannes and completely jetlagged … will have more tomorrow. — Katie

DRWho-Cannes

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May 14

Here’s Damien’s first missive, sent as she was heading out of town:

I wanted to get an early start here because I have some Asheville folks to thank before I jet off. My flight is this afternoon.

“For the red carpet, I have on loan a beautiful dress made by local designer R. Brooke Priddy with Ship to Shore. For make up I went to Zack Russell with Makeup at the Grove Arcade and got some fantastic tips, guidance, a whole makeover I wasn’t expecting and great makeup that I’ll be wearing in Cannes.

Dress by Ship to Shore. Photo courtesy of Katie Demian.
Dress by Ship to Shore. Photo courtesy of Katie Demian.

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More about the project, from a press release:

Asheville based Gorilla with a Mustache Films heads to Cannes Film Festival in France this month to screen their internationally acclaimed comedy short, Joint Effort. Winner of the 2013 National Film Challenge, this comedy short tells the story of a gay couple who mistakenly assume they have been mailed a box of marijuana: hilarity ensues. Joint Effort will be represented by two members of Gorilla with a Mustache Films, Director Katie Damien, a five time Emmy award winning Director based here in Asheville, whose recently released documentary, My Toxic Backyard, chronicles the story of the CTS site in Buncombe County, and local Producer Lela Winton.

Cannes is one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Attendance is by invitation only. To earn the honor to screen at Cannes, Joint Effort competed internationally and won Best Picture, along with Best Writing for local writers Eruch Adams and Will Eill, and Best Actor for the accomplished local actor and Emmy winner David Ostergaard of Bright Star Theater, who also travels to attend the screening.

Local film buffs should keep their eyes peeled for the Gorillas feature film One Hell of An Angel currently in post-production and slated for release later this year.

About Gorilla with a Mustache Films
Gorilla with a Mustache Films is a production team based out of Asheville, North Carolina.  Originally envisioned by Producer Lela Winton, their diverse crew includes Director Katie Damien, Actor Matt Shepard, and husband-wife Writer team Eruch Adams and Coranna Adams.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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