CANNES, France (AP) — Amid the wheelers, dealers, oglers and stars, a man with a sketchbook is capturing the carnival that is Cannes.
The world’s most prestigious film festival already attracts thousands of reporters, photographers and camera crews. Now, for the first time in its 68 years, it also has an official artist.
British painter Dan Llywelyn Hall has been appointed to spend the 12-day event wandering the streets, screening rooms and salons with pencils and watercolors.
“The interaction of the people, that’s what interests me, and the social hierarchy,” Hall said, sitting with sketchbook on a terrace overlooking Cannes’ teeming main drag, the Croisette.
Below, tourists craned for a glimpse of the red carpet, delegates mingled and eternally hopeful film fans stood with signs seeking tickets for the day’s packed-out screenings.
“The actors in this place are gods,” Hall said. “The actors are the people everyone worships.”
Hall counts himself, journalists and photographers among “the kingmakers.”
“We make them who they are,” he said. “And then you have the people who sort of support this whole structure.”
Cannes at festival-time is a cross between a circus and a royal court, and 34-year-old Hall sees himself as its chronicler. While most festival-goers have their movements restricted by the color of their badge — Cannes’ strictly enforced version of the class system — he has license to roam from parties to press conferences, chic hotel lobbies to crowded streets.
“I have to try and find ways that I can give it a perspective that somebody else can’t,” said Hall, who has painted portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William.
“It’s very important to see it from every perspective. To a certain degree you have to be incognito. You can’t allow yourself to be too visible.”
Hall’s work is being used by the festival and the BBC, and he plans to show his Cannes images in an exhibition in London and Paris next year.
Like many visitors to Cannes at festival time, his overwhelming impression is of its surreal quality.
“It’s a carnival of the bizarre,” he said. “Last night I walked along the Croisette and there was a woman — it could have been a man — dressed as Mrs. Doubtfure going along in a buggy.
“People want to be part of it, and that’s what it’s all about — being part of this very big event.”
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