May 12, 1997 - The postmark on a postcard from me to my father and sister from Cannes, where I was working the film festival for the first time. It was my first declaration that I wanted to live in the South of France.
I had travelled in the region before, back in the summer of 1994, which was my first ever trip to France. I was taking two UCLA continuing education course for adults - one on the Belle Epoque and based in Paris for a month and the other on Modern Masters in the South of France, which would travel throughout Provence over three weeks and visit the towns and ateliers of artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Chagall, Van Gogh, and Renoir, amongst others. We were based in Vence and spent time in St. Remy, Antibes, Nice, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Vallauris, Avignon and other magical and wonderful spots - but most importantly for me, we also spent a day in Saint-Paul de Vence, which is where James Baldwin spent the last 17 years of his life. It is said that Saint-Paul de Vence saved him, was his sanctuary, where he found peace and was able to write. And within minutes of arriving there, I completely understood. I returned there a number of times over the years.
When I wrote that postcard to my dad, I was writing from my heart, from my truth - and it didn’t matter that at the time I had no idea how to make my dream come true. That I didn’t have a clue about how to get a house or how to start to build a life in another country. All that mattered was that I could feel it. Deep down in my core, I somehow knew what was meant for me. Little did I know that my strong belief was the first step towards my destiny.