How ironic -- this quietly peaceful sanctuary is only a 20-minute boat ride from the Croisette, just past all those multimillion-dollar yachts parked out in the water, and directly opposite the world's most famous industry gathering. Its complete solitude stands in stark comparison, oblivious to the cinematic zoo about to take place on the other side.
Harvey Weinstein out in a lineup.
Nevertheless, in the anything-but-peaceful world along the famous Croisette, workers are prepping for the onslaught of producers, executive, buyers, sellers, stars, wannabe stars, hustlers, tourists, journalists, movers, shakers, power players, pretenders and cineastes all headed to Cannes for the May ritual that makes the French Riviera the destination starting on opening night, Wednesday.
That's when the red carpet will be laid down, just a couple of hours before celebrities and dignitaries start arriving for the first film: Fernando Mereilles' "Blindness" starring Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal.
Humongous versions of the festival's official poster, a David Lynch photo of a platinum blond Monroe clone wearing large dark glasses, were being hoisted above the Palais steps early Monday morning.
Huge advertisements and giant placards dwarf the famous Carlton Hotel, showcasing big studio summer behemoths that are decidedly more "Indy" than the "indie" types in the official competition.
Billboards of all sizes touting " "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (having its world premiere and junket here on May 18), "Hancock" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," among other commercial titles, are a clear signal this fest is determined to merge its trademarked "art and mart" in ways that will have all eyes on this corner of the world for the next couple of weeks.
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With the dollar suffering big time against the Euro, the independent film landscape was thrown into mourning when Warner Bros. cut both Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures loose.
Despite a box-office outlook that is anything but stable, for both big and small pictures, Cannes is still the lizard king, a must-attend and the brand name for film festivals, the one premiering titles that nearly all the kazillion fests in its wake will be feeding off for months to come.
And if past years are any indication, a few of the films unfurled here could fire the opening shots in this year's Oscar race.
Consider nominated films like "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly," "Persepolis" and eventual best picture winner, "No Country for Old Men." Each was launched in the Cannes 2007 lineup (although the Romanian abortion drama, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" won the Palme d'Or but failed to nab any academy love).
This year, particularly with the talent involved, there is lots of speculation about Oscar potential for new Cannes entries from past academy nominees and winners like Fernando Meirelles, Atom Egoyan, Charlie Kaufman, Walter Salles, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and others, although the sad fact remains that since it won, no film other than "Marty" has gone on to win the best picture Oscar after also nabbing the Palme d'Or -- and that was in 1955!
Several Palme D'Or victors over the years, like "Friendly Persuasion," "MASH," "The Conversation," "Taxi Driver," "Apocalypse Now," "All That Jazz," "The Piano" and "Pulp Fiction" did go on to best picture nominations.
Roman Polanski's 2002 Cannes winner "The Pianist" probably came closest, taking the academy's director, actor and screenplay awards before what we imagine had to be the narrowest of losses to "Chicago" in the big category.
Four-time Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood is a four-time Palme d'Or loser, having been here previously with "Pale Rider" (1985), "Bird" (1988), "White Hunter, Black Heart" (1990) and "Mystic River" (2003), but he's hoping the fifth time is a charm with his latest competition entry, "Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie, who was here last year herself for "A Mighty Heart" (which failed to go on to Oscar glory).
Might the fact that Eastwood's "Mystic River" star Sean Penn is president of this year's jury be a good omen of French things to come for Clint? After all, he did direct Sean to an Oscar.
Is it time to return the favor?
There's also lots of buzz about past Palme d'Or winner Soderbergh's ("Sex, Lies and Videotape") "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla," a pair of films being shown here as "Che," one 4-hour, 28-minute epic on Che Guevarra.
A big reception and/or win here could set up major Oscar hopes for the so far distributor-less film(s) starring Benecio Del Toro. But right now Soderbergh is just struggling to get it into shape to even make its Cannes debut on the 21st.
Out-of-competition Oscar hopefuls include Woody Allen's Spain-set "Vicky Christina Barcelona," with newly minted Oscar winner Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johannson.
There's also the animated film contender "Kung Fu Panda," a stunning and reverent martial arts 'toon from DreamWorks showing this Thursday, and of course, Steven Spielberg's return May 18 for the world premiere of "Indiana Jones" (likely an Oscar contender in tech categories), his first trip to Cannes since 1986 when he showed "The Color Purple" out of competition.
Spielberg, incidentally, is a former Cannes winner, having shared the best screenplay prize (with Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins) for "The Sugarland Express," his first feature film in 1974.
We'll be blogging our views on what's going on this year -- the hits, the misses, the bombs, the underdogs and the whole Cannes scene -- on latimes.com/cannes.
For the next 12 days Cannes becomes an unrivaled orgy of film and partying 24/7 that will be blasted around the world.
So here's a message to those monks across the bay: Time to get some earplugs!