As I told you in my last post, Laura in Paris, I was able to purchase last minute tickets to the Cannes Film Festival, 1991 edition. I was ecstatic. After four cups of tea and two cigarettes, I decided I would go disguised as a Brazilian journalist, covering for a local newspaper. I spend precious hours carving a stamp out of a big raw potato with a sharp knife: I engraved the initials of the newspaper and the current date. Well, of course I used a letter-headed notepad that my father, the real journalist, had left with me. It was the official notepad of Jornal do Brasil, one of the main ones in my home country. I figured that would work fine, since they obviously sent more than one correspondent to the film festival. I used an old typewriter from my school to forge a letter in both French and Portuguese, saying that I was one of the assigned reporters. Then I stamped it with my beautiful potato stamp. It looked pretty good, I got to say.
I decided to pack a mixed bag, with my only two red carpet dresses, high heels – my movie star disguise; as well as tennis shoes and cargo pants - my Journalist camouflage. Since I didn’t know where I was going to stay, I could not pack a big suitcase. Good thing I was able to fit everything in a hiking backpack.
Cannes 1991 line-up was really incredible, and I was excited to be going there!
The day before my flight, Virginie, my landlord, came to my room. Her gentle knock on the door awakened me from a light nap. I was exhausted from studying for school and preparing for Cannes: I had been trying to watch at least one movie by each main director who would compete in the festival – I got to Kieślowski, Von Trier, Spike Lee, Schroeter, Angelopoulos, Ridley Scott and the Coen brothers.
“Laura, can we talk for a second?”
I straightened myself up in bed, “of course”.
She had a petite figure, red hair with bangs and a very mysterious look. I had never had a real conversation with Virginie, but I could tell she was an open-minded, spiritual person.
“The girls told me you are going to Cannes this weekend?”
“Yes, I’m so excited! I’m actually leaving tomorrow morning!”
“Where are you staying?” Virginie asked while leaning against my bed frame.
“I still have to figure this out but I’m not worried. Worst case scenario, I’ll sleep on the beach…”
She left a vibrant laugh out. “You cannot camp on the beach during the most prestigious film festival on earth, honey!”
“Well, guess what? My angels will help me!” I said, staring up, as if looking for them.
“Listen, as your responsible guardian I cannot let you go like this…”
“That is sweet of you, but you don’t need to worry! Plus, you are not really my guardian, are you?” I asked, a little bit surprised.
“Well, I feel responsible! You are still a minor living under my roof!” she said, not in an obnoxious tone, just a concerned one.
“I will call you once I arrive there. I promise I won’t do anything stupid. I just turned 17, I’m old enough to be on my own…,” I swore, feeling frustrated.
“Look, I’m not here to tell you what to do. I am here because my first boyfriend, my high school sweetheart, happens to be a big movie photographer. I called him to ask if he could help you during your stay. So, here is his hotel number and info while in Cannes. Please, Laura, call him, not only if you need, but so we can know about your whereabouts. OK?” she frowned, staring down at her clasped hands.
And a haircut...
I could not believe that after all this time and bad experiences I had had in France, I was finally going to have a foster mother taking care of me! I hugged her the way I only hug my mom and dad, with love and gratitude, and thanked her many times before she left my room. Then I finished packing and went out to get a new haircut. Cannes: here I come!
*to be continued next post, keep tuned!