An uneven Parisian backstreet; last night's puddles glinting in the early morning sun. A speckled cat leaps gracefully from shingled roof to cobbled floor, only to be gone in the blink of an eye, melting into the nearest shadow at the sound of approaching footsteps. The resounding post-dawn quiet is unceremoniously punctured by a young man and woman who emerge, almost explosively, from an unseen side alley. The hurried pair, unmistakably of the touristic variety, are deep in a heated conversation from which words occasionally escape as voices are raised, only to bounce around the heavy stone walls, perhaps causing the locals to stir. "Tu m'as dit de tourner à gauche!", exclaims the foremost of the figures, her red skirt flicking violently about bare knees as she strides purposefully ahead. "Speak American, woman!", is the hasty retort from her blue-eyed and stubble-faced companion. Despite a level of animosity that would be obvious to all but the most fleeting of passers-by, one can't help but notice that each of them also shares and is now hefting the exact same newish, brown leather briefcase, bulging with the bulk of their respective recommendations. The woman, who is walking briskly but glancing left and right to note house numbers, stops suddenly, causing the man to walk into her with a vaguely erotic bump. Ignoring this sudden physical contact, she turns towards the nearest archway and small courtyard beyond before uttering: "This must be the place".
The clattering of shoes on weathered flagstone steps precedes our duo as they come out upon a cramped but beautiful terrace, squinting through pale sunlight at the scene that now greets them. A row of tables, sagging under a veritable mountain of buffet food - canapés, vol-au-vents, and plates of cured ham - has been erected between a small, seated crowd of fashionably rumpled people, a few of whose heads snap towards the newcomers at the sound of their tardy arrival. The main source of interest appears to be a tiny stage upon which an unconventionally handsome figure now enthusiastically alights: "Welcome, one and all...", he cries, without even the need for a microphone, "... to the second annual World Championship of Film!" The pair, still squabbling, pause to drop their recommendations on a nearby pile, before taking their seats. "I am your host, JediMoonShyne, and you have been invited here today to participate in something special. A grand total of 32 posters have been hand-picked from all over the world, each of which has chosen a single country to champion. The countries, each represented by a squad of 5 different films, will now be pitted against one another in a bid to find out which reigns supreme. Please, a warm welcome for our brave contestants..." The woman, who leads a smatter of applause from the crowd, ceases her clapping in order to smack away the outstretched hand of her companion, who had been reaching out in earnest for a tempting plate of hors d'oeuvres.