Cannes, one of the greatest film festivals in Europe was back in full swing. I arrived there on the first day, with many meetings confirmed in advance and I was hoping to secure many more on my arrival.
It was nice to see the film community thriving again. The last time I saw that many was at the virtual American Film Market. I always believed that meeting in person gives more subjectivity to the discussion, which can bring a better outcome for both parties. My expectations were high, and I was overwhelmed with so many meetings, not to mention parties, receptions and other events.
I spent a lot of time in the pavilions; mostly in the Israeli and British ones. It was so good to see some of my closest colleagues who I’ve with on projects.
I was very happy to see Marek Rozenbaum, who is a co-producer of my film The Story of Europe, for which I wrote the script. It is based on a true and never-told story about the First and Second World Wars, the collapse of former Yugoslavia and the British referendum. Story reveals a personal struggle of three women: one is fighting the regime, another is part of it and works in the Secret Service and the third doesn’t believe in democracy, which in her opinion gives power to people who are very easy to manipulate, and this leads to wrong decisions. At the very end of the film we find out that these women are from the same family but of different generations.
I was also very happy to meet my other two co-production partners, Ales Pavlin and Andrej Stritof, from Perfo Slovenia. We worked together on feature-documentary film Brexit Through the Non-political Glass, and like Marek, they are both veteran producers. The weather in Cannes was fantastic, summer had arrived, and we spent a lovely evening in a bar by the Riviera. We talked joint projects, exchanged opinions on what we should or must do, what are the best solutions in a time when everyone is avoiding cinemas and how to go further as an independent film producer.
As soon as I arrived at Cannes on day one of the festival, I rang two of my closest friends, film director, producer, and writer Gurinder Chadha and producer and writer Paul Mayeda Berges. I have so much respect and admiration for this amazing couple. They are not just outstanding in their professional career but also as parents to beautiful twins. They suggested we meet immediately for brunch, and so we did. What a lovely start to the festival at Paul and Gurinder’s favourite café!
The discussion how the cinemas are unpopular and how it is very hard to raise money for the films were the highlight of all the debates. No one could understand the twist of our social circumstances. During Covid, streamers were increasingly available. Everyone wanted to subscribe, numbers were reaching the Universe. But suddenly, the latest trend showed that the audience was going down, Netflix was losing a large chunk of subscribers and cinemas stayed empty. Where would we go? Where is society watching is not the right question anymore, but what are we watching?
Personally, I don’t think that cinemas became empty because it was a lockdown and because people upgraded their homes with high-tech TV sets and a menu of streamers. I think people just became lazy, and with the boosting of social media, Instagram, Talk Talk, even Twitter… all these tools simplified media production and many people now take up too much time staring at tablets and watching cheap video stories (although some of them are cute and sweet). Myself, I sometimes fall into that trap of watching all the cats and dogs videos. I love animals and watching them, even for a few minutes, reduces the level of stress; at least this is how I feel.
I am a big advocate of going to the cinema, watching the film on a big screen with a glass of wine and popcorn to hand. A lot of the time I go to the cinema by myself, sometimes to the matinee screening, sometimes even in the evening.
I didn’t watch any of the films in Cannes, it was the time to network, hold meetings, meet producers from all over the world and, of course, to party.
On day one in Cannes, it was all about Top Gun: Maverick, and just as I went to get my producer’s badge at the media centre, there he was, Tom Cruise on a terrace, waving to his fans. It felt like he also turned towards me, standing there in front of the doors of the centre, holding my badge. It was a special moment when I realised, ‘we are back, everything is back’, and it couldn’t be more symbolic in the presence of Tom. It would be awesome to learn that he was maybe thinking the same, at the same time: we are back!
Nina & Marek Rozenbaum
Party at the USA pavilion with Nina, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges & the rest of the gang