Then I headed to the Pavilion, where I wrote post cards until I started work.
Work was pretty good. The six hours start to get pretty long, but there is always a lot of Pavilion staff hanging around (including far too many of us on shift), so we have plenty of people to talk to.
It was nice that it was so slow too, because I got to have a really neat conversation with four venture capitalists that came into the Pavilion around 2pm. It’s funny, because all my good conversations seem to start when people ask me where I’m from. I’ll say Montana, and we’ll launch from there into “I was in Montana in ’97 and I went fishing/skiing/hiking” or “My good friend so-and-so is from/traveled through/bought property in Montana.” It’s really a great conversation starter.
Anyway, that’s how my conversation with the venture capitalists started. I stood there chatting with them for a few minutes, until I got a not-so-subtle summons from my manager to come back to work (which is stupid, because there are more than enough people there to run the show without me while I talk for a bit). So of course, whenever things got slow again, I’d head back to their table to chat some more. By the time I was ready for my lunch break, I asked if they wouldn’t mind me joining their table while I ate. They said they were more than happy to let me join them. Score!
They were really nice guys, and I am so glad that I had enough guts to join them, as the conversations were really interesting. I found it fascinating that every time I asked them about their jobs (what specifically they did, what kinds of projects they’d worked on in the past, etc), they were really secretive and wouldn’t tell me anything. I got a lot of “Oh you know, we dabble here and there.” They weren’t being rude or anything, but I was getting the message loud and clear that they didn’t want to talk about their work. Which is fine, since for a venture capitalist, talking about your work is pretty much talking about your money.
But aside from their work, which I found horribly fascinating and wanted to know so much more about, we still found plenty to talk about. They asked me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do in life. They asked me about the American Pavilion student program and if it was worth it to me, as well as what I hoped to gain out of the experience. We also talked a lot about Montana and a lot about different books.
Overall, I feel really good about the conversation. And then at the end, we stood up and shook hands, and they left. I didn’t get their cards, which is the only thing I regret about the situation. But to be honest, what would I do with their cards? And what on earth would they do with mine?
I just feel like it’s so crass to only want to talk to people in order to feel out if they can offer you something. Networking is really important, of course. But talking to people solely for the purpose of getting something from them is hardly the way to go. I’m certain people can see right through that kind of thing.
I mean, I came here to learn. Don’t get me wrong—I’d love to walk away from the festival with some sweet job or internship offer. But I also want to learn as much as possible about as many facets of the industry as possible. And you can’t learn anything from strangers if all you do is try to sell yourself.
Anywho… that’s my story about the venture capitalists. No exchanging of contact information. Just a great conversation with interesting people that I’ll probably still remember for a very long time after the festival is over. To me, that’s worth it.
The end of my work shift was interesting. It was supposed to be an extremely eventful evening, as the rumor was swirling through the Pavilion that we were to be visited by Elton John, Sharon Stone, and the cast of Desperate Housewives. Of course, no one could tell if we were going to be visited by all of or a combination of some of those people, but it was obvious that someone important was coming, because the Pavilion was prepared.
The Pavilion has a little VIP section for people (who only need to pay extra) to sit and enjoy the ocean view. The area is sectioned off by a little brown picket fence, and all the tables have flower centerpieces (the Pavilion attempted to up the swank in that section to make people want to pay more… but other than a few things, it’s all the same). The funny thing is that, other than the American ambassador to France who used that area for a meal after his talk, there hadn’t been a single person in that section all day.
I got off at six, but since the rumor on the breeze was that the famous individuals would be arriving at any moment, I figured I’d stick around for a while to see them. Well, that little while turned into an hour and a half. I ate dinner and wrote postcards while waiting, but they never showed. I sorta wonder if the Pavilion was stood up.
My friends and I gave up staying to try and see them, and, since we had red carpet tickets to the premiere screening of Chongqing Blues (a Chinese film directed by Wang Xiaoshuai) that evening, we headed back to the hotel to get ready.
THE RED CARPET
After donning our gowns (we wore black cocktail dresses this time—more versatile), we took the bus back down to the festival. We were all starving, and thankfully we had just enough time to grab dinner from a little vendor before heading to the theater.
That cart sells the most delicious (and cheap) sandwiches.
Then we got to walk the red carpet! I wanted to take more pictures, but there were many, many ushers and guards everywhere, rounding up people and having them move quickly inside. Once inside, a well-orchestrated group of ushers handed along our tickets until we were taken to our seats. We had great seats. We were on the floor, in the orchestra pit area, and right behind us, separated by a large walkway, were the seats for the stars of the film.
Then suddenly, an announcer said “Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Wang Xiaoshuai,” and the entire theater stood up as the director and all the cast walked in. We had been wrong—we were attending the actual premiere! And we were right next to them!
The director is in black, wearing glasses. The main character, the father, is at the very end in black. The kid in white played the son (in flashbacks).
The film itself was excellent. I loved it. The story was about a father who returned from the sea (he’s a captain) after learning that his son, who he hadn’t seen in over ten years, was shot by a police officer after taking a woman hostage in a cosmetics section of a department store. The father, by confronting those who knew him best as well as those who were with him in his final hours, tries to piece together a picture of what his son was like. It was pretty powerful.
The movie might be considered a little slow to some, but the way the camera lingered on each shot was very deliberate and almost intriguing. I also loved the way the director used cool blues and warmer hues to accent the cityscape versus the flashbacks and memories. Overall, I thought it was an extremely beautiful film, and the story was really compelling.
AFTER THE RED CARPET
After the premiere, most of us weren’t tired, so we thought we’d walk around and try to find something to do. Every night there are rumors of fabulous parties, and of course, last night was no exception. So we headed off in the direction of the beach party that was getting the most attention.
We didn’t have an invitation to the party. At all. But Justin, our resident BS-er and all-around good guy, got us in by saying we were here on behalf of some lady. I didn’t recognize the same, but it worked. We just waltzed in. Feeling pretty good about ourselves, we took a seat and reached for the menus, looking around. There was a man playing jazz on the table (to a recorded accompaniment), and diamonds were dripping off every surface of the woman sitting at the table next. I glanced down at the menu. Caviar was 900 Euros. Nothing was under 50 Euros. We’d effectively BS-ed our way into a party that no one could afford. Needless to say, we left rather quickly. At least now I can say I’ve seen the festival experience of the other half.