Locals screen movie at Cannes

Locals screen movie at Cannes

By Quincy Perkins and Jonathan Woods

Editor’s Note: The Weekly kept in touch with Key West’s Quincy Perkins and Jonathon Woods during their trip to the Cannes Film Festival. They left on May 11 and screened their movie “Swingers Anonymous on May 18. They return to the Southernmost City this weekend. Read on for a fantastic re-telling of their adventure.

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By Quincy Perkins and Jonathan Woods

In May, we (Quincy Perkins and Jonathan Woods) traveled to the city of Cannes on the Coast Azure of France because the short film noir movie “Swingers Anonymous,” on which we collaborated, was accepted into the world renowned Cannes Film Festival for 2015. Our film is based on a short story by Jonathan Woods. The film was directed and produced by Quincy Perkins and written and produced by Jonathan Woods. The film stars Tom Frank, Gemo Calero and Bambi LaFleur. The Cannes Film Festival started in 1946. Some of the prize-winning pictures that first year included Brief Encounters dir. by David Lean, The Lost Weekend dir. by Billy Wilder and Rome, Open City dir. by Roberto Rossellini.

On May 11, 2015 we left from Miami on TAP Airlines to Lisbon and then to Milan. There, in the massive Central Railroad Station, built during the time of Mussolini, we caught a train that carried us southward through rugged Italian terrain down to the sea and then along the Coast Azure that is so blue and shimmering it hurts your eyes.

For our stay we rented a two-bedroom apartment in the narrow-streeted charm of the small French town of Antibes, just outside of Cannes along the coast. Antibes is a 15-minute train ride from Cannes, but it is a totally different world, an oasis of calm and quiet with dozens of cafes, wine bars, restaurants and shops along narrow streets dating back to whenever and tree-filled squares.  A week’s rail pass between Antibes and Cannes cost only 9 euros.

On the other hand, Cannes is a small modern city filled with hustle and bustle at normal times. For the world famous Cannes Film Festival, the streets are jammed with tourists, filmmakers, the legion of technical staff that make up the film industry and, of course, the glitterati and the film critics. What Cannes lacks in charm, it makes up in glitz and flash, which can’t quite hide the dirt and the beggars and shady characters working the crowds.

The Palais des Festivals, the center of the Cannes Film Festival where the films in competition are screened, is an amazing structure rising four stories in a glass and white façade with huge banners of the official poster for this year’s festival — the 68th year. Beyond the main structure is the Marche de Film (film market), a two-story building filled to overflowing with the booths of film distributors and production companies.

Next to the Marche du Film stretching along the beach are the pointed white tent-like pavilions housing the national film organizations of countries from around the world. After obtaining out official entry badges as participating filmmakers, we headed over to the American Pavilion, which will serve as our “headquarters” for the remainder of our stay at Cannes. Everyone there bent over backwards to be helpful and friendly.

Our first day in Cannes, May 13, was spent in getting oriented amid the organized chaos that is the Cannes Film Festival. Wandering the streets of the city, every store, bar and bistro proudly exhibited the official Cannes poster. As the evening hour arrived for the official opening ceremonies of the Festival, the main street that runs past the Palais des Festivals building was blocked off with metal barriers and burly French cops with guns on their hips and cold eyes. On the far side of these barriers, crowds of onlookers jostled for position for a view of the glitterati, the stars and the movie magnates, the models and the movie critics, the millionaires and the creative geniuses of sound and light and action. They arrived in an endless column of shimmering black Mercedes, luxury black Renaults and the occasional red Maserati or classic Porsche. From these chariots the glitterati et al. disembarked at the red-carpeted main entry and flowed, a magical throng, across the carpet and up the stairs to the main screening hall, the Grand Theatre Lumiere, the men in penguin-ish black tie; the women in flowing, fantastical gowns mimicking the colors of the rainbow in their variety.

Day two of the festival found us on the train from Antibes to Cannes at 6:30 a.m. in order to arrive in time to be admitted to the 8:30 a.m. official screening of “Mad Max: Fury Road” in the Grand Theatre Lumiere of the Palais des Festivals. We sat in the balcony and the theater is without a doubt the world’s largest movie theater. After two hours a swashbuckling action involving Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and assorted villains, in which evil is once again overcome, we stumbled, visually dazed, into daylight to find a late breakfast. The rest of the day was spent networking and printing fliers to hand out promoting the screening of Swingers Anonymous on Monday, May 18, in the theater space at the American Pavilion. What an honor to have our film screened at the American Pavilion. The day ended with a cocktail party at the American Pavilion.

By day three of the festival the crowds swelled to overflowing. Outside the areas restricted to filmmakers and the cognoscenti of the film industry, it was often difficult to move through the clog of humanity filling the streets outside the Festival. Every cafe and restaurant in the nearby streets was filled to the brim. Beer and vino flowed endlessly. A stiff wind blew off the Mediterranean Sea. Again, thanks to the gods of cinema, for the relative quiet of the American Pavilion and its WiFi connection. Quincy was the envy of all: wearing a gold lapel pin in the shape of the laurel leaf that is one of the symbols of the Festival. The day ended with a great party on the beach sponsored by the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. Quincy showed up after attending a very enlightening half-day seminar on film financing. (We want to make a feature film of three linked noir crime adventures involving the same characters, with “Swingers Anonymous” being the first story of the trilogy.) In the next moment, the beautiful and talented Gema Calero, one of the stars of “Swingers Anonymous,” appeared at the party with her entourage. We dug into the lavish spread of hors d’oeuvre and sipped thirstily. Soon enough, the DJ kicked in and everyone danced with wild abandon to drive away the chill of the wind of the sea.

Monday May 18, the day of the screening of “Swingers Anonymous” at the American Pavilion as part of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, arose bright and sunny. Like the preceding five days, we made our way by train from Antibes to Cannes, being sure to ask the station attendant which track the local commuter train would arrive and depart from at the Antibes station. For the last four days we had been passing out fliers (of the “Swingers Anonymous” poster) inviting everyone we met to the screening.

After checking into the American Pavilion and making sure the details of the screening were still on track, Jonathan and Quincy went over to the Short Film Corner to participate in a seminar on how to pitch your film to producers and distributors. There were about 25 participants, all with short films at Cannes. The seminar was led by Ido Abram, deputy director of the EyeFilm Institute in Amsterdam.  After giving a humorous overview of the do’s and don’ts of pitching, each participant had to make a three-minute pitch that was critiqued by Ido and the group. Suddenly it was 2:30 p.m. Time flies.

We hurried back to the American Pavilion to make last minute preparations for the screening. Luckily Jonathan had brought his Apple laptop as a backup for the screening. There was no other computer available. We huddled with the technical staff, while the very helpful support personnel at the American Pavilion straightened the rows of chairs meticulously. At a quarter to four the guests started to arrive.

The screening space at the American Pavilion seats about 50 people and by four o’clock it was about half full, including several fans of noir crime fiction. Among the guests at the screening were:

  • The famed French sculptor Richard Mas and his wife,
  • James Bird, director of the AFI World Cinema Initiative sponsored film “Honeyglue,” that screened earlier at Cannes,
  • Adriana Mather, one of the stars of “Honeyglue,”
  • Anya Remizova, a producer of “Honeyglue,”
  • Claudia Sumeghy, a Hungarian producer of several films including “Letter to God,” and
  • Gema Calero, one of the stars of “Swingers Anonymous.”

Quincy and Jonathan gave a brief introduction to the film. Then the room went dark for the 23 minutes of “Swingers Anonymous.” When the lights went up there was an enthusiastic round of applause. Quincy and Jonathan then stepped to the front of the room and fielded a dozen or so questions. The audience was excited and appreciative of the comedic and surreal neo-noir production. After the screening a Canadian distributor approached Quincy about marketing the film in Canada.

Emotionally thrilled and exhausted, Quincy and Jonathan, Gema Calero and several other friends headed out to a bistro for a celebratory dinner, amid the dazzle and flash of Cannes during the festive 12 days of the Cannes Film Festival. What an amazing day!!!

Some quotes:

“I’m totally amazed and overwhelmed to be here at the Cannes Film Festival and to be a representative of Key West and South Florida filmmaking at this world renown cultural event.”

—Quincy Perkins, director/producer of ‘’Swingers Anonymous’

“During the making of ‘Swingers Anonymous,’ I had a feeling I was involved with something original and special. The fact that it’s screening here in Cannes proves it.”

—Gema Calero, star actress in ‘Swingers Anonymous’

“In my wildest dreams I never imaged one of my crime short stories would end up on the silver screen. To have ‘Swingers Anonymous’ shown at the Cannes Film Festival is mind boggling.”

—Jonathan Woods, writer/producer of ‘Swingers Anonymous’

 

Swingers Anonymous, a noir crime film

Directed and Produced by Quincy Perkins

Written and Produced by Jonathan Woods

Executive Producers: Dahlia Woods, David Aboussafy, Janet Hinkle

Producer: Peter Ebanks & Florida Film House

Starring: Tom Frank, Gema Calero and Bambi LaFleur

Based on the short story “Swingers Anonymous” by Jonathan Woods

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