Papadopoulos & Sons at Cannes

I am in Cannes with the film. Well, I’m here in Cannes. The film is with an enlightened and independent film friendly sales agent called Seven & Seven in a huge room with 1000s of films from around the world seeking buyers.

I didn’t want to come to Cannes originally (as I wasn’t sure it was the right way for the film) but Maura at Seven & Seven loved the film and asked to represent it here. She genuinely loved the film. I couldn’t say no.

Cannes is a huge trade show for the film business. Think of the Motor Show or the Interior Design Homes show but with films being sold instead of cars or soft furnishings. At one level, it is quite depressing to see the thing you love being packaged up for Ukrainian State TV or a cable channel in South Korea.

I got a glimpse of a suited buyer talking to Maura at the stand. The buyer was holding a Papadopoulos & Sons flyer – the one where Stephen Dillane is holding a fish. Maura was telling him that this was a universal family story. The buyer was listening but just flicking the flyer. I suddenly felt so guilty about making Stephen Dillane hold that fish. He’s a great artist. A rare artist. He’s done a one-man Macbeth – all the parts. His Hamlet is regarded as one of the best in living memory. He’s also got the soul of an angel. And here he was being flicked around by a movie buyer from abroad. Stephen, if you read this – thank you for being in my film. But more importantly, thank you for holding that fish for a publicity shot.

I am amazed that anything really gets sold here. Really. There’s just so many films. I wandered around the stands looking at posters and after a while they all blurred into one montage. I tweeted a photo of two posters that stood side-by-side – one was for a film about dinosaurs fighting soldiers the other was a story about angels with Tim Spall. It really did seem to sum up the diversity of Cannes.  

I was looking for films that touched on the same themes as Papadopoulos & Sons, but where are the stories that have been inspired by global economic downturn? This staggers me and it also excites me. I really am alone in so many ways. This is frightening but thrilling too. Either I’m onto something or I’m way, way off – out there on the fringes.

A chance conversation with a movie exec in the American Pavilion suggested that I was being naïve because all films are escapist entertainment. But surely, all films are a screenplay before they are anything else. Before movie stars, cameras, editing, finance – before ‘entertainment’ all films are words on a page written by a writer. And all writers are influenced by the world around them. You cannot avoid the world when you are a writer. Before you turn on your computer to write, you experience the world. So, where are the films about the economic crisis we’ve been going through since 2008? Where is the writer’s reaction? How can so many films have been written by writers who have managed to avoid the world?

This isn’t your normal, everyday economic crisis either. This is the one where the banking system has collapsed and governments don’t know what to do. This is the one where people have stopped going to church (as there is little hope there these days) and the most popular thing on our movie screens are vampire films where kids sell their souls for an eternal physical life or films where kids murder kids so they can stay alive. The latter was classed as a 12, by the way. P+Sons would be classed as a 15 because even though we don’t have any violence – a few of my characters say ‘for fucks sake’.

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