Lisa Tant hits the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival

Photo by George Pimentel

“ELIZ-A-BETTTTTTH!!!” hollers FLARE’s George Pimentel as he attempts to catch the attention of Elizabeth Banks on the red carpet in Cannes. The American actress and L’Oreal Paris spokesmodel is in town for the same reason as FLARE’s top red carpet photographer – not to watch movies, but to sell the Film Festival’s glitzy glamourous image.

Banks is a relative newcomer to the luxury soaked French Riviera lifestyle. Pimentel comes every year, and will be on his feet for hours snapping the actresses, models and A-list celebrities who flock to Cannes for the Film Festival. This year was my first visit. In a word, it was FABULOUS!

I spent the day in Cannes as a guest of L’Oreal Paris to meet Elizabeth Banks, a L’Oreal spokesmodel. My interview with the charming, vivacious Banks will be published in an upcoming issue.

It took place at the Cannes headquarters, the legendary Hotel Martinez, where I spent much of the day. Only registered guests with security credentials are allowed in the hotel. Crowds mill around the street in front 24/7 during the Festival hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. At lunch, I spied Paris Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, Pucci designer Peter Dundas, and French actor Pascal Greggory who starred in Karl Lagerfeld’s short film Remember Now that I viewed the previous week in St. Tropez. The L’Oreal Paris beauty rooms and interview suite was next to Chopard on the top floor. Dark suit security guards were as common as hotel staff.

I chatted with Elizabeth at 3pm and then spent the afternoon getting ready for our red carpet walk. “Did you bring a gown?” I was asked. I don’t usually pack a gown – go figure – when I travel and the invitation to Cannes had arrived last minute when I was already in St. Tropez. Fortunately, the outfit I wore to Chanel’s cruise show was perfect – a forest green satin shift and black opera coat with Rita D jewelry and Chanel sandals.

We met Elizabeth and her charming hubby, Max, for a cocktail before jumping in the car behind hers for a motorcycle escort to the red carpet. What a thrill! Crowds peered in the darkened windows as we crawled past. When we arrived at the Palais des Festivals, the theatre where the films are screened, Elizabeth greeted fans across the street before hitting the red carpet. She walked up alone, the L’Oreal encourage (including me, Max and Montreal-based L’Oreal Communications Director Anik Gagnon) followed a few feet behind. Despite the photographers hollering at her, Elizabeth was calm and laughing. That’s when I saw George who snapped a few photos of Anik and me that I will treasure forever.

The film I saw – Poetry directed by Korea’s Lee Chang-dong – was in the Festival’s competition. While the story was interesting (how many North American films are centered around a 65-year-old actress?), it was depressing and too long. No matter, it was all part of an incredible experience that capped two of the most exciting weeks of my career.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter.