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DAY 5: Updated phrase book for Cannes. eg: ‘Grand Prix du Jury’: Consolation prize.
To mentally prepare you for the coming Cannes film festival in May, we continue Nick Roddick’s subversive columns from the daily editions of Moving Pictures at the 2002 Cannes film festival & market, an irreverent, insightful, sometimes cynical and always entertaining take on what Cannes is really – really! – like.

For those of you who may have forgotten the French you learned at school, here is an updated phrasebook which you may find useful on your trips along the Croisette. Remember, however, that these words may mean different things in other parts of France.
Like most things in Cannes, they are listed in no particular order.

Ascenseur: Large machine found in hotels which, in Cannes, is used exclusively for moving furniture.

Sortie de secours: Stairwell or passage-way in which the aforementioned furniture is stored.

Accès interdit: Push hard.

Porte sans issue: Short cut.

Téléphone portable: Attractive black plastic object that doesn't work indoors, in the shade or on alternate Thursdays but can be guaranteed to switch itself on and ring loudly during any screening of a death-bed or similarly emotion-charged scene.

Voiture officielle: Top of the Cannes badge hierarchy - even better than a White press badge - this windscreen-sticker provides total immunity from all prevailing traffic rules. In fact, there are rumours that a points system operates, with a prize going to the driver who clips the most pedestrians (without, of course, causing any damage to the car). A word of warning: if you are involved in an incident of this sort, do NOT under any circumstances strike the car, as this is a capital offence in France.

Trottoir: Alternative car park (Not to be confused with the English 'pavement', which means 'bicycle track').

Cannes circulation: As seen on white plastic signs along the Croisette, this is a brilliantly concise phrase explaining that the direction from which the cars were coming at you yesterday is not the same as the direction from which they will be coming today.

CRS: Bunch of fat blokes sitting in buses arguing about who was supposed to have turned the motor off.

Plage: Expensive piece of private real estate designed to prevent people falling in the sea.

Baie de Cannes: Unique system of maritime currents drawing off the town's sewage and depositing it on the beaches of less prosperous towns further down the coast.

Attaché de presse: Person hired by producer to keep journalists away from his or her film.

Conférence de presse: Place where film-makers sit patiently behind a long table on a dais while French people make speeches from the floor.

Casier de presse: Ingenious and unreliable electronic game of chance with rather disappointing prizes.

Information: Closed.

File d'attente: Hello, foreign suckers. You stand here while we push our way in over there.

Nouveau système: Clever new scheme replacing much better older scheme.

Grand Prix du Jury: Consolation prize.

Meilleure Contribution Artistique: Door prize

Bureau de change: Place where they take away lots of your money and give you back less of theirs.

Euro: Nasty Belgian plot to put bureaux de change out of business.

Les Boutiques du Noga-Hilton: Tunnel-like chamber of horrors marginally less depressing than the fact that people spend real money to buy this shit.

Menu prix fixe: Sign we forgot to take down when the Festival started.

Pas cher: You misheard: these words cannot be used together in Cannes.

Café américain: Watery black liquid which no European would touch.

Salade niçoise: Two bits of lettuce, an olive and half a tin of tuna chunks (Note: This can be very tasty elsewhere in France).

Autoroute du Soleil: Escape route.

Aéroport Nice-Côte d'Azur: Gateway to another dimension

Published March 27, 2003
First published in Moving Pictures, May 20, 2002

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Nick Roddick taught film and theatre at Trinity College, Dublin; the University of Manchester; and California State University, Long Beach, before becoming a journalist in the early eighties. He was Films Editor of Stills Magazine in London from 1983-4 and Editor of Cinema Papers in Australia from 1985-6. From 1987-88, he was Editor of weekly trade paper Screen International and, in 1990, founding Editor of Moving Pictures International. Since 1993, he has been Editor of Preview, a bi-monthly magazine on films in production. He is author of several books on the British and American cinema, and currently runs Split Screen, a Brighton-based publishing and consultancy company specialising in the international film and television business.

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