Minneapolis writer rubs shoulders with Hollywood royalty in Cannes

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She shook hands with Spike Lee, met Oliver Stone’s eyes, swam in the Mediterranean for three days in a row, stayed at the Martinez Hotel at $ 1,000 a night (she wasn’t paying) and went is showered with a long standing ovation. So overall, Minneapolis writer Jennifer Vogel’s trip to the Cannes Film Festival this week was pretty good.

“I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go but I’m glad I did,” said Vogel, whose memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life” is the inspiration for the film in competition by Sean Penn. “Flag Day.” “It’s interesting to see how even though there is so much pomp in a situation like this, at least in the parameters I was in, there was a lack of pretension, which surprised me. . It ended up being a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be. “

A freelance writer / editor who is putting the finishing touches on a novel, “Invisible Empire,” Vogel watched her memoir, about her complicated relationship with her crook father, being bought out by Hollywood shortly after its publication in 2004. Through numerous Oscar winners (including Alejandro González Iñárritu) and studio regime changes before Penn finally decided to direct and play his father, with his daughter Dylan Penn as Vogel.

“When someone like Sean Penn, who has so much personality strength and star power, decides to take it on, it’s just weird. It’s so random. It’s almost unbelievable. what am I doing here? ‘ I never dreamed that I would be there, watching a movie based on my life, on my memories, on the Mediterranean, wearing high heels and sipping champagne on a veranda, ”said Vogel, who also had champagne In her hair One night before the show, a waiter splashed her splash and her stylist told her that alcohol would improve her red carpet.

Vogel says she might end up writing about the experience, which included watching people in elegant ball gowns holding up signs stating the French equivalent of “Need for Tickets” and watching paparazzi walk away. of her in search of a movie superstar.

“They’re everywhere. It’s funny, I was picked up by a festival car at Nice airport and I get out of the car and everyone is like ‘Oh, that’s a festival car ! ‘ So they regroup with their cameras, but it’s just me in a T-shirt and jeans with my carry-on, ”said the former City Pages and MPR reporter.

The “surreal” screening is where she saw Stone, shook hands with Lee, and reflected on the long journey that took her story from small town Minnesota to one of the most glitzy resort towns in the world. world. At the screening, she was seated next to star Dylan Penn – and, in his curtain speech, Sean Penn thanked both his daughter and the woman she played.

“You are the genuine – they always call me the real Jennifer Vogel – so here you are and they are standing and [the reaction is] “Oh, my God, she did it. She has all her teeth, ”Vogel joked. “Then Sean Penn points his finger at me and I’m like, ‘Oh, no. Everyone is looking at me and Oliver Stone is in the row in front, so I look into Oliver Stone’s eyes as everyone gives me a standing ovation – for what, I don’t know. “

There could be more standing ovations in the future. The Cannes jury, headed by Lee, will announce the winners this weekend and “Flag Day” should open in American cinemas at the end of August. Meanwhile, Vogel has some sleep to catch up on and some bubbles to get rid of his hair.

Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367

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