Upcoming movie director Destri Martino chats with FR2DAY

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)

Destri Martino

Each year, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase held in The American Pavilion provides an opportunity for filmmakers to connect with the Cannes Film Festival and Marketplace attendees. A few weeks ago, we met with Destri Martino, a young filmmaker from Los Angeles whose short film, “The Director,” winner of American Cinematheque’s 2010 trailer contest, screened at this year’s competition.

Hello Destri, nice to meet you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background?

I am a director. I have done a lot of shorts, live actions, animated shorts… I work at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles and I produce marketing, recruiting and training videos in-house.  I am always making stuff. It’s very good practice.

So you consider yourself a filmmaker?

I do consider myself a filmmaker because I have been making videos for a long time. I am lucky enough to have a day job that allows me to continue making stuff. I went to USC (University of Southern California) where my minor was in Cinema-TV. I also hold a master degree in Media & Communications from London School of Economics.

And The Director is your first movie?

No. Actually I have done a bunch of other shorts but it is my first animated shorts.

And what is it about?

It is about a woman director who decides to wear a dress to the set to make a statement.

Talking about women, what do you think of the fact that there are no female directors this year at the Cannes festival?

It is very disappointing because it is nice to have women to look up to. When it is all men it is hard to relate to someone. There are a lot of male directors that I respect a lot but it would be nice to see more women up there I could look up to.

Is Cannes the first film festival you have been to?

No. I have been to quite a few with this film, such as Newport Beach, Big Bear, LA Femme, DC  Shorts. I have gone to visit a variety of places in my own country and that has been fun. And then to get to travel to France is just amazing.

How was your movie picked?

There is this program on line called Withoutabox that makes it very easy to submit to festivals. The American Pavilion had their information up there and their contest was open so I just submitted my movie…and they picked me.

How many movies did they pick?

They picked a total of, I think, 16 or 15. They do emerging documentaries by emerging filmmakers, then they do narrative shorts by emerging filmmakers, that’s my category, and then they do the same with student films. I think there were only 4 or 5 people in my section and then they did pick winners out of that. I was considered a finalist.

And how many movies are they showing at the short film corner?

Someone has just told me that it was about 1,200 but I think it might be more than that. They have a lot of films in that short film corner.

Is the short film corner basically a way to make contacts and meet people?

Yes, and they do a great job at it. They have events, they have networking opportunities, they even do happy hours every day at 5 pm. I have only been to one so far but it was great because all the filmmakers go there and they meet. I wish I had gone to more but by the time you get out of the house and you try to get all your things done, you are really exhausted.

So what is your typical day here in Cannes?

Every day has been different. Trying to find food is always part of it [laughs]. I usually will go into the International village where all the pavilions are. At The American Pavilion I will check if there is anything going on. They hold a lot of panels and so does the UK Film Center. It is so much to take in that every day I feel like I have learned something new. For instance, I could have gone to the buyer’s corner and give my postcards out, that is what I have learned today.  But I cannot beat myself up, it is so big and there are so many places to take advantage of, so many opportunities…

In which way is the Cannes festival different from all the other film festivals you have attended?

It is just enormous so trying to get my head around it takes a long time. It is also a lot more glamorous. There are a lot more potential good contacts, all the top people in the film industry are here.

Have you managed to go to parties?

That has been the hardest part. I have been to one party but the great thing about Cannes is that you can go to the hotel bars, places like the Martinez or the Majestic, and people go there. It is not just lonely short filmmakers like myself, it is a lot of different people like execs, bankers, lawyers…All good people to meet.

Are they easy to talk to?

Oh yes. Everybody goes there to network. People are just mingling and it is a nice way to connect with people because it is a lot more social.

So would you say that the festival has met your expectations?

I don’t know what I was expecting actually so I think it has [laughs]. I just did not know what to expect. It is so big but it has been good. I have met a lot of interesting people.

Are you staying until the end of the festival?

Yes, I will be here until Tuesday ( the 29th of May). My mom came out yesterday (the 24th of May) so Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we will probably visit the area a little. I have already been to this part of France before but I don’t know yet what we are going to do. We are hoping to get out of town but I am not a hundred percent sure of where we are going to go. I have just been running around so much, we might just end up on the beach out here because I am so exhausted.

Destri Martino is also the creator, director and co-author of MIXED BLOOMS, a comedy web series that follows florists Kim and Brian Fluge as they attempt to keep their little flower shop afloat while raising a curious teenager (Morgan). You can check it out at www.mixedblooms.com.

Marseille’s Calanques Become France’s Latest National Park

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)

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France now officially counts a new national park, the first one in  years, and it is located right in the heart of Provence. On Wednesday 18th of April, after years of debate, French Prime Minister, François Fillon, signed the decree authorizing the creation of France’s 10th national park, the Parc National des Calanques.

Stretching between Marseille and Cassis, the park covers 8,500 hectares of land and 43,500 ha. at sea, and is the only National Park in Europe to be at the same time continental,marine and periurban. It is home to around 30 long creekslined by high white cliffs, 90 archaeological sites, among them the famous Cosquer Cave, and to nearly 140 protected species of fauna and flora, including the country’s last surviving pair of Bonelli’s eagles.

Each year, the park attracts about 2 million visitors and the goal of the new status is to protect the beauty of the site for future generations and to encourage sustainable development. The “Calanques” will remain free of charge and “non-invasive activities” like hiking, biking and horseback riding will still be allowed.

However new restrictions will be set. On land for instance,visitor centres will be built at the main entry points to give information, hikers will have to follow marked paths and climbers will have to avoid sensitive zones. Meanwhile along the coast, fishing and deep-sea fishing will be forbidden in some areas, jet-skis will be banned and loud- speakers won’t be allowed in the creek areas.

There is litlle doubt that this new park will bring even more tourists to our region which also counts three other “Parcs Nationaux”: the Port-Cros National Park, in the east of Toulon, the Écrins National Park, in the north of Gap, and the Mercantour National Park in the north of Nice.

Celebrate the Magic of Christmas in Strasbourg

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

Strasbourg-Christmas-market

Every year, Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region is lit up with lights and baubles in all imaginable colours to become a living example of the spirit of Christmas. 2011 is no exception. Perpetuating a tradition that dates back to 1570, the city is holding its famous Christmas market, the Christkindelsmärik, running until the end of December, in the pedestrians streets around its impressive cathedral.

The market, which is the oldest in France and one of the country’s largest, has not changed much from the one it was more than 400 years ago. It offers a large choice of Christmas trees – the region is where Christmas trees were first taken into people’s homes – as well as artisan products such as traditional and modern ornaments, wood carvings, garlands, tinsel, bells and toys. Of course, you will also find plenty to eat and drink.

While wandering amidst the stalls, you should definitely try the delicious vin chaud, the local spiced sausage, the sauerkraut, the foie gras, the eau de vie, the locally brewed beers and theBredele, a little delicious cookie traditionally prepared during the advent period.

The market is also filled with musicianslive concerts andspecial events. Meanwhile, nearby in La Petite France, a cozy neighbourhood of cobblestone streets, fine restaurants andmedieval buildings, the Christmas shops and the gingerbread bakery are always worth a detour.

In December, Strasbourg definitely has everything you need to make your holiday season just perfect; so if you are looking for a place to rekindle the magic of Christmas, don’t hesitate any longer and head straight to the North East of France.

This year’s Strasbourg market runs until the 31st of December, and is open from 10:00am to 8:00 pm daily, and until 9:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. The market is such a tradition that the city has created a special website dedicated to it called Strasbourg Capitale de Noël.

Image courtesy Strasbourg Capitale de Noël

The Great Fall of French Cinema

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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It has been a great fall for French cinema. Of course everybody is talking about ‘The Artist’ which is being released in the US this month right on time for the Oscar race but three other films inspired by real-life stories have also created quite a buzz in recent months. It all started in September with the release of Valérie Donzelli’s ‘La guerre est declarée’ (Declaration of war), a moving story about a couple’s battle against their baby’s brain tumour.

The subject may sound heavy but the movie is never melodramatic and even provides a lot of funny moments. It follows the couple as they set up an organization and mobilize the troops to fight the enemy. From the beginning we know they will succeed and because it is based on the own real-life experiences of the two stars, Donzelli and ex-boyfriend Jérémie Elkaïm, the movie has an intensity that we usually do not find in a fictional story. The film will be France’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the84th Academy Awards 2012.

The next movie, Polisse‘, is about the daily life of a police brigade dealing with the protection of young children. Shot in a documentary style, the winner of the Jury’s prize at this yearCannes Festival offers a realistic look at the terrible crimes a group of officers has to deal with and the impact they have ontheir personal lives.

Between fathers molesting their children and a motherdropping her baby on the pavement, there is no shortage of tragic scenes. Yet, somehow, director Maïwenn Le Besco, manages to make a film that is touching and emotional but also very entertaining and even hilarious at times. Not a small feat by any means!

Finally, the last movie, ‘Intouchables‘ is the surprise French box office hit of the year. Based on a true story, this caustic comedy centers on the relationship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and the young black man from Paris’ poor ghettoes he hires to take care of him. Avoiding all the clichés you might expect from this type of film, ‘Intouchables’ is a real feel good movie that is being hailed by many critics as the new ‘Amélie‘ or ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis‘.

 

Menton Celebrates Multi-Talented Artist, Jean Cocteau, with Brand-New Museum

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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It has been a long and rich love story between the city of Menton and poet, painter, film-maker and dramatist Jean Cocteau; a story that dates back to the 1950s when the artist was commissioned by the city to create a number of artworks, including the Salle des Mariages in the city hall. In recognition, the city adopted Cocteau as an honorary citizen. A few years later, the multi-talented artist designed his own museum in a small and abandoned fort, the “Bastion”, which he restored and decorated with mosaics and tapestries to house some of his own artworks. On the 6th of November, a new museum dedicated to the artist, the Jean Cocteau Museum – Séverin Wunderman Collection will open its doors in Menton’s old town.

Located in a striking building which evokes a labyrinth, the collection is made up of over 2,000 works, including 1,190 drawings, prints, paintings, ceramics, tapestries, jewellery, books and manuscripts by Cocteau himself. It also includes 172 photographs relating to Cocteau and 278 works by fellow artists such as PicassoModigliani and Di Chirico. Most of the collection was gathered by art lover, Séverin Wunderman, former owner of Swiss luxury watch brand Corum.

The goal of the museum is to present the different aspects ofJean Cocteau’s genius but also to show the man behind the myth. The works are therefore arranged based on seven specific themes that each corresponds to an important stage in the artist’s career: the topic “Blood of the Poet” for instance is connected with Cocteau’s most renowned literary works, such as “Les Enfants Terribles” and “La Machine Infernale“, while another one “Mysteries” features the poetry and films Cocteau created post-WWII, such as “La Belle et la Bête“.

Moreover, since Cocteau is considered to be one of the fathers of contemporary art, temporary exhibitions will highlight current contemporary artists. The first one to be honoured isBordeaux based artistJean Sabrier, who gives new perspectives to paintings through art history. This exhibition runs until 7th May 2012.

The space also includes an educational workshop areaintended for school groups, an appointment-only print roomfeaturing additional works from the collection, a documentation center, an indoor and outdoor café, and a gift shop.

This new museum, which is the largest collection in the world of works by Cocteau, is expected to draw 100,000 visitors a year. That should definitely be enough to put Menton on the cultural map, in a region that already is home to many great modern art museums.

Silence is Golden in Black and White Movie ‘The Artist’

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (Cet article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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It is not often that a French movie creates a buzz in Oscar circles in Hollywood, but you can trust film producer Harvey Weinstein to recognize a worthy contender when he sees it and to turn it into a multiple nominee. His company bought the rights to ‘The Artist’ for the American market before it even premiered in Cannes this year to critical acclaim, and will release it in November right on time for the Oscar race. It probably helps that ‘The Artist’, which pays tribute to the Hollywood movies from the late 1920s, has been filmed as a silent movie! Liberated from the language barrier, the film has already proven to be a crowd pleaser in Toronto and San Sebastian, and one has to recognize that indeed it is a wonderful piece of work on every level.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius and staring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, the film follows the downfall of a Douglas Fairbanks’ look-alike George Valentin, a Hollywood superstarwhose popularity begins to wane with the arrival of talking cinema in the late 1920s, just as that of young ingenue, Peppy Miller rises.

Audacious, touching, witty, visually stunning and beautiful crafted, ‘The Artist‘ is also wonderfully acted. Dujardin, who took this year’s Best Actor honours at Cannes, may still be unknown in the US but he is already a huge star in Francewhere he is famous, notably for his part over many years in a daily TV sketch comedy show as well as in Hazanavicius’ series of spy spoofs OSS 117.

The supporting cast includes several English-speaking actors such as John GoodmanJames CromwellPenelope Ann Miller and Malcolm McDowell, as well as an amazing canine performer named Uggy.

Modern day audiences are somehow reluctant to watch black-and-white silent movies but with this love letter to a forgotten art, Hazanavicius is showing the world that you sometimes do not need spoken dialogues to carry emotions or visual effects to entertain moviegoers. It is still too early to know what chance ‘The Artist’ has of winning an Academy Award, but there is little doubt in my mind that it will capture the heart of people all around the globe.

 

 

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with San Francisco

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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One can fall in love with a city. It happened to me some 14 years ago. I came to San Francisco as a law student to do a 9-month internship and ended up staying there nearly 10 years. And if today the girl from St.Tropez in me is glad to be back on the French Riviera, with its beautiful landscape and glorious weather, I have, like millions of other people before me, left a piece of my heart in San Francisco.

People keep asking me why I like the city so much but I don’t have a simple and clear answer. I like the city as a whole. However if I had to give ten good reasons to visit San Francisco, they would be the following:

1 – A beautiful city

This one is a given. Located at the tip of the peninsula between the Bay and the Pacific Ocean and built on 43 hills, San Francisco offers some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see. The city hasn’t been ruined by ugly high-rises and wherever you go, you will find beautiful Victorian houses, cute little cable-cars and impressive architectural prowesses such as the striking Golden Gate Bridge or the highly recognizableTransAmerica pyramid (pictured below).

2 – A walkable city

San Francisco is a relatively small city of only about seven square miles which can easily be explored in a few days and on foot. Yes, the streets are sometimes steepvery steep even, but you will be rewarded every step of the way by beautiful views of the city and little discoveries here and there, such ashidden stairwaysoriginal murals and perched gardens.

3 – Diverse neigbourhoods

There are over 30 neighbourhoods in San Francisco, each one with a unique personality, feel and charm. The Mission with itsMexican Taquerias is very different from Castro, the gay district, which in turn has little in common with Haight Ashburywhere the Summer of Love started or the Marina where the young and fit 20- and 30-somethings live. Yet all the neigbourhoods coexist peacefully. It is impossible to determine where exactly North Beach with all its Italian restaurantsends and where Chinatown starts, and if you walk alongFillmore Street you will pass by Japan Town to go from one of the city’s richest neigbourhood, Pacific Heights, with all its superb mansions, to one of the poorest, Western Addition.

4 – A multicultural and ethnically diverse city

San Francisco is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the US. From the gold rush era to the present, the city has welcomed waves of immigrants from around the world. Everybody can feel at home in San Francisco: It is probably the most European of US cities but it also has a hugeMexican population and boasts the biggest Chinatown in the world.

5 – A tolerant city

Probably because of its multiculturalismSan Francisco has the reputation of being the most liberal and open-minded city in the USA. Terribly rebellious, the city has nurtured the Beat Generation, started the Flower Power revolution, saw the start of the Black Panther’s movement and designed the Rainbow flag as a symbol of gay and lesbian community pride. No matter in which era you are, there is always a revolution going on!

6 – A paradise for food lovers

San Franciscans love to eat and Californian cuisine is known for cooking fresh local ingredients in simple ways and for mixing the culinary traditions of many different countries. The quality and quantity of restaurants in the city make San Francisco a real food heaven. You will find wonderful Farmer’s Markets and very diverse restaurants from Mexican delis to Japanese restaurants and from Italian trattorias to Ethiopian places. And of course, the wine country is only just a short drive away from the city.

7 – An artsy city

The city has a great art scene with many museums andgalleries, internationally recognized symphonyopera andballet companies, and avant garde theatre and dance companies. The nightlife is vibrant and diverse as indie rock, latin music, jazz, blues or swing can be found all over town.

8 – A tech capital

Arguably the tech capital of the worldSan Francisco’s Bay Area is home to an extraordinary array of breakthrough companies such as GoogleAppleeBayPixar and LucasFilm. It also boasts some of the nation’ s top universities such asStanford and UC Berkeley.

9 – A Mediterranean climate

This point may not be obvious to everyone. Mark Twain once said “The coldest winter I have ever spent was a summer in San Francisco“, and it is true that July and August are particularly foggy. However, for the most part, San Francisco’s weather is temperate. The temperatures seldom dip below 40°F, or reach90°F all year long. And anyway, because the city has its ownmicro climate, you just need to drive a few miles away to find temperatures that can be 20°F higher.

10 – Surroundings

Finally, if you like nature, San Francisco has it all. North and south you have wonderful beaches such as Santa Cruz andStinson, while Ocean Beach in the city is a perfect place to go surfing. If you like skiing, the beautiful mountains of Lake Tahoe are just a few hours away. Napa Valley is always a great destination to go sample wines while Muir Woods and its giant redwoods and Yosemite National Park are amazing places to visit.

Munich – much more than just the land of beer

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

Neuschwanstein

Munich, the capital of the State of Bavaria is renowned worldwide for its Oktoberfest, but the city has a lot more to offer to the traveler than just beer, regardless of the time of year. And since it is barely an hour and a half away from the French Riviera by plane, it makes for a perfect destination for a weekend gateway.

Situated on the River IsarMunich is one of the bigger tourism hubs in Germany and one of the major cultural centers in the nation. It features many old buildings, churches and palaces that highlights fine examples of GothicRenaissanceBaroque andneo-classical architecture. In the center, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the New Town Hall is notably famous for its beautiful carillon that is over 100 years old. Twice a day, at 11am and noon, people like to gather in front of it to watch the32 life-sized figures reenact historical Bavarian events.

Not far from it is the site of the Victuals Market, a popular open market which offers fresh products, a wide range of winesand many nice cafés.

Further away from the center, the Nymphenburg Palace, the former summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs, boasts beautiful gardens and a lavishly decorated interior. Munich is also home to many museums, well-known all throughout Europe, and modern buildings such as the BMW Welt Munich, constructed in the shape of a double-cone, located near theOlympic Park.

Of course, no visit to Munich, or München as it is called in German, would be complete without a stop in the world-famous beer hall, HofBräuhaus or to one of the city’s many beer gardens where locals like to meet to share a pint or two.

If you have more than two days, you should definitively head to the nearby Bavarian Alps to visit the three of King Ludwig II’s castles: The stocky Hohenschwangau where “the Mad King” spent his childhood, the breathtakingly beautifulNeuschwanstein (pictured above), which served as a model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, and the small and exquisite Linderhof.

Finally, because one should never forget the horror of the holocaust, a visit to the concentration camp of Dachau, 10 miles northwest of Munich, is almost a requirement. The complex which was one of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany, contains the original prisoner baths, barracks, courtyards, and the crematorium, as well as an extensive exhibition and various memorials.

Family Relations Turn Sour in new French Movie Set in Saint-Émilion

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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Newly released movie Tu seras mon fils, (You Will Be My Son) is much more than just a story about the complexities of family relations, it also provides an interesting look at the issue of the transmission of knowledge and heritage and tradition in the world of wine.

Directed by Gilles Legrand (Malabar Princess, The Maiden and the Wolves) and starring Niels Arestrup (A Prophet), Lorànt Deutsch (Jean de La Fontaine), Anne MarivinPatrick Chesnais (The Reader), Nicolas Bridet and Valérie Mairesse, the film follows Paul de Marseul (Arestrup), the owner of a prestigious vineyard in Saint-Émilion as he gets ready for the harvest.

Extremely authoritarian and demanding, Marseul cannot stand the thought that his son (Deutsch), who works with him on the estate, will one day succeed him. He dreams of a more talentedmore charismatic son that would be more in line with his idea of the perfect heir. The return from California of Philippe (Bridet), the brilliant son of his dying estate-manager (Chesnay) will mark the start of a dangerous war between two fathers and two sons.

The fact that this caustic and cruel movie takes places in a world where tradition means everything, definitively adds depths to the central issue of the story: Does a father have the right to reject his own offspring in favour of a substitute?

Legrand had originally wanted to set its film in Burgundy but after meeting Stéphane Derenoncourt, the consultant of the Saint Emilion Premier Cru Château Clos Fourtet, he reworked the script to focus on the Bordeaux region. It features the actual staff of the estate and Clos Fourtet’s technical director,Daniel Allard, even has a couple of lines in the movie.

Tu Seras Mon Fils is distributed by Universal Films, and opened in French cinemas on 24th August. It has been sold internationally by Other Angle Pictures.

Commemorating Operation Dragoon, the D-Day of the South of France

Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2011 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2011)

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Less famous than Operation Overlord which took place ten weeks earlier in Normandy, the airborne and seaborne assault of the 15th of August, 1944 – Originally titled Operation Anvil before being code named Operation Dragoon – was the southern land invasion by the Allied Forces, led by one French (the 1st Allied Airborne Task Force) and three American divisions (the 3rd, 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions) under the command of General Alexander Patch.

At the time leading up to the landing, Winston Churchill was vehemently opposed to the campaign on the grounds that it diverted military resources from the on-going Allied operations in Italy, while German forces, fed with deceitful information, feared a pending invasion in Genoa, a stronghold of the Nazi regime.

The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop of French commandos followed by an amphibious assault made up of 6 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 21 cruisers and 100 destroyers along with 500 transport ships.

The landing took place on three beaches at Cavalaire and Pampelonne BaysAgay and St. Maxime. Thanks to the help of the French Resistance which cut communication lines, the German army was caught by surprise and the allies encountered little opposition and suffered few casualties and setbacks. Within two weeks they simultaneously captured Toulon and Marseille, before swiftly heading North, up the Rhône Valley. They liberated Lyon on the 3rd of September, and linked up with Patton’s Third Army on the 11th of September.

Operation Dragoon was an outstanding success for the Allied forces. It enabled them to liberate most of France in only 4 weeks, two months ahead of their previously estimated time of completion, while inflicting heavy casualties to the German forces.

Today a few monuments commemorate this forgotten D-Day , on the 70 km of coastline between Cavalaire-sur-Mer and Saint Raphaël. At the Rhone American cemetery in Draguignan, for instance, above all the graves, a stone wall is inscribed: “We who lie here died that future generations might live in peace.”

Like every year, French officials all along the coast will pay homage this coming Monday to all the men who freed the country from Nazi occupation and maybe, like in 2010, we will have a chance to see a few American chars on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.