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(with an preface by Tonni, Brandon's mother.)
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Code Bravo

I was putting lotion on my hands when I got the phone call. It was Holly Becker, my producer at IFC calling from Cannes: We won everything! We won the Prix du Jury for critics week, we won the young audience award, we won the very young audience award, and we won THE CAMERA D'OR!!!! I didn't even think we'd get into Cannes!

I was shouting and jumping around but even as I shouted I was becoming part of the IM force. Not the Mission Impossible from the movies, but the original series that I watched as a child with my brother. I had prepared my whole life for an Impossible Mission and finally finally it looked like one was imminent. Would I have to go (back) to France? What about my press day here in Seattle? What about the panel I was supposed to be on the next day, presented by the Seattle Film Festival, "A Conversation With Miranda July?" how would this conversation happen without me? They would have to channel me like in a seance. And so began a long day of fixating on things that that were easier to consider than WINNING THE CAMERA D'OR.

A few minutes later I got a call from Saudia from IFC: Get in a cab right now and go to the airport. Now.

Yes. This is exactly the kind of thing I am prepared to do in every moment but it has never been asked of me. And as if I had somehow known that I would have to pack quickly, I had really spread my things out all over the hotel room, it was like I lived there. My greatest joy may have been this packing, throwing things in the suitcase madly. Freezing to consider the micro-demabrasion kit that had come free in a gift bag from the Seattle film fest. I opened it up, there were different sizes and shapes of foam applicators. Me and my friends would have so much fun destroying our faces with this kit. But it just wouldn't fit. And even if it did, I would probably have to leave it in France to make room for the CAMERA D'OR. I threw the micro-dermabrasion kit it across the room, and in this way began to make room for everything to come.

I would have to fly from Seattle to Portland to Frankfurt to Nice, where a car would take me to Cannes. I would arrive 2 hours before the awards ceremony began, enough time to choose a dress and be made respectable. At one point it looked as though I would in fact arrive during the festival, and have to just wear what I was wearing, ie, jeans and a tee-shirt. My friends said It's ok! It'll be punk! But I was relieved to get these extra 2 hours. I had punked my way through so many things, I wanted the dress.

Just as I went through security at the Seattle Airport a security alert went off. A guard called CODE BRAVO! into a megaphone and everyone froze and men with guns ran around shouting CODE BRAVO! and then the guard said SCREENING RESUME and it was all over. I, in the throws of profound narcissism, decided that what they actually mean was: BRAVO! It was the beginning the ceremony that would be completed in the Palais in Cannes.

I walked around the airport and called friends and family and the people who made the movie with me and we laughed and cried, thinking of how hard we had worked, the days of doubts and crippling frustration, the trying the trying the trying to make it good. And with these people I began to feel real joy at the recognition.

Then I sat down to read Eightball, which I had bought the day before. But before I got through the first page, the man sitting next to me said: Excuse me, would you mind reading the first three pages of my manuscript? It's about to be published and I just wanted to get an outsider's take on it.

Now this seemed very odd indeed. Did he know who I was? No, of course not. I took the pages and dutifully read them. It was called Hike Your own Hike.


It was about how we are chained to jobs that are slowly killing us and how we need to quit those jobs and live our dreams, hike our own hike, both metaphorically and literally. I gave the pages back and told him they were really inspiring and encouraging. Then he asked me about myself and where I was going and I told him I was a director, going to receive this award etc. And he said: Wait a sec. You already are hiking your own hike. And I had to admit I was. So this book doesn't apply to you, he said, holding the pages in his lap. I said that it was still good to be reminded, there were a lot pressures, etc. But I could feel that the climate of the conversation had changed.

As the tiny plane landed, the stewardess called out all the gates for our connecting flights. The last flight was mine: Frankfurt, gate D14. And then the she said, over the PA: Can I come with you? No one will notice I'm gone. And everyone laughed. But I was in such a heightened state that I became overwhelmed with the feeling that I was saying goodbye to regular life, the kind of life that most people could relate to. And that the hike your own hike guy and the stewardess were like the Greek chorus, warning and advising me, telling me to take note, that the universe doesn't often swirl this way. I know this is all very grandiose, but if one doesn't feel grandiose on such a day, then when?

Then I flew to Frankfurt, then Nice, then I was in Cannes again. From this point on it all becomes a blur. I had a terrible time choosing a dress at Dior, I suddenly became the desperately precise person who had made the movie, I wanted everything to be just so, to reflect every sensation I had ever felt. At the last moment they found just such a dress. It was blue.

Getting my hair done was also problematic because my hair was incredibly dirty. I kept saying that I had just washed it that morning, but finally I had to admit that this had been 15 hours ago and I had been on three planes. We decided to go for the messy look.

Then we drove to the Palais. In the car I met Vimukthi Jayasundara, who I had just been told I would share the prize with. It was nice to not be alone in this. We quickly grilled each other about what we planned to say on-stage, about each other's movies (his is called The Forsaken Land, he's Sri Lanken, he's 27.) Meanwhile, outside the window:


The woman's voice is Holly Becker.

And then I was waiting to go up the red carpet:


The woman to my right is urging me to not begin walking, as the photographers are not done photographing the stars.

And then walking up the carpet:



And very quickly Vimukthi and I heard our names and we walked up to the podium. The prize was given by Abbas Kiarostami, the head of the jury, and, oddly enough, Milla Jovavich. When I was 12 I deeply wanted a subscription to Seventeen magazine, but I was too embarrassed to ask for this because I knew my father would frown upon it. I was torn between wanting it and wanting to prove that I was not a silly, materialistic girl. Eventually I got the subscription and Milla was on the cover of the first issue. So you can imagine my surprise, to see it was she, ushering me in to this new world. Maybe she will always be the gatekeeper for each new world I enter.


Afterwards there were various things that happened, most of them related to press. And then there was a party with fireworks. And then I walked back to the hotel, barefoot with my shoes in my hands. Earlier in the evening my award had been dropped off at the hotel (The Gray D'Albion), because it was very heavy. When I asked the concierge for the award he lead me in to the vault, where they had put it for safekeeping.


At the end of this movie the man is summoning a security guard to escort me to my room with the prize. They were so reverent, they completed the ceremony that began with Code Bravo. In the room they had laid out a tray of of tiny cakes, roses, and champagne. Then, in the morning, they presented me with their own award, a certificate with my name on it and a mysterious box. In the cab on the way back to the airport (less than 24 hours after my arrival) I opened the box. Inside was a tiny pine tree.


Posted by Miranda July on May 26, 2005 | Permalink