The Cannes Film Festival is preparing for a party

With the 2020 Cannes Film Festival canceled by the pandemic and the 2021 edition scaled back – with kisses banned even on the red carpet – the lavish cinematic soiree is set to return to the French Riviera with an event that promises to become something of a normality .

r at least Cannes’ very special brand of normality, where evening wear and film in sun-dappled splendor mingle for 12 days, minute-long standing ovations at the beat of a stopwatch and director names like “Kore-eda” and “Denis” are spoken with hushed reverence.

What is considered commonplace in Cannes has never been particularly commonplace, but has proven remarkably resilient to the vagaries of time.

Ever since its first festival in 1946 after the Second World War, Cannes has endured as a maximalist spectacle that spotlights world cinema and the glamor of the French Riviera.


Diane Kruger poses for photographers upon arrival for the premiere of the film Everything Went Fine at the 74th International Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, 2021 (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

This year Cannes celebrates its 75th anniversary.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a normal Cannes now,” says Ruben Ostlund, who returns this year with the social satire Triangle Of Sadness, a follow-up to his 2017 Palme d’Or-winning film The Square.

“It’s a fantastic place for filmmakers. You feel like you have the attention of the cinema world,” adds Östlund.

“To hear the excitement that’s going on, the people talking about the different films. Hopefully they will talk about your film.”

This year’s Cannes, which opens on Tuesday with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie film Z, will unfold not only against the late ebbing of the pandemic and the rising tide of streaming, but also against the biggest war Europe has waged since 1945 in the Ukraine experienced.

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Started as a product of the war – the festival was originally created as a French rival to the Venice Film Festival, in which Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler had begun to meddle – this year’s Cannes will once again walk away from the echoes of an unprecedented conflict.

Cannes organizers have banned Russians with government ties from the festival.

Several films by prominent Ukrainian filmmakers will be screened, including the documentary The Natural History of Destruction by Sergei Loznitsa.


A young boy looks at pictures of the late French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in Cannes (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

Footage filmed by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius before he was killed in Mariupol in April will also be shown by his fiancee Hanna Bilobrova.

At the same time, Cannes will host more Hollywood stars than it has in three years.

Joseph Kosinski’s pandemic-delayed film Top Gun: Maverick will be screened shortly before its theatrical release.

Tom Cruise will walk the carpet and sit down for a rare, career-spanning interview.

“Every director’s dream is to go to Cannes one day,” says Kosinski.

“To go there with this film and with Tom, to show him there and to be part of the retrospective that they’re going to do for him is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Warner Bros will premiere Baz Luhrmann’s splashy Elvis, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks.

George Miller, most recently in Cannes with Mad Max: Fury Road, will debut his fantasy epic Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton.

Ethan Coen will premiere his first film without his brother Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind, a documentary about the rock ‘n’ roll legend made with archival footage.

Also new is James Gray’s Armageddon Time, a New York-based semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale starring Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.

Far from all of Hollywood will be there.


Festival staff pull the official poster at the Grand Theater Lumiere (Dejan Jankovic/AP)

The Cannes theatrical release regulations have essentially excluded streaming services from the competitive bid from which the Palme d’Or winner is chosen.

This year’s jury is chaired by French actor Vincent Lindon.

Last year’s Palme winner, Julia Ducournau’s explosive titans starring Lindon, was only the second time Cannes’ top honor had gone to a female filmmaker.

This year, five films directed by women compete for the Palm, a record for Cannes but a low percentage compared to other international festivals.

This year’s lineup is again full of festival veterans and former Palme winners, including Hirokazu Kore-eda (Broker), Christian Mungiu (RMN) and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes (Tori and Lokita).

Iconoclastic filmmakers like Claire Denis (Stars at Noon), David Cronenberg (Crimes of the Future) and Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave) have also lined up for the palm, as has Kelly Reichardt, who is once again collaborating with Michelle Williams in Showing High .

Even with a robust table full of Cannes all-stars, how much can the festival really go back in time?

Last year’s Light-on-Crowd edition included masking in theaters and regular Covid-19 testing for attendees.

It continued to produce some of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, including Best Picture nominees Drive My Car, The Worst Person in the World and A Hero.

Cannes remains an unprecedented platform for cinema’s finest but is still prone to criticism of representation.


Festival staff pull the official poster into place (Dejan Jankovic/AP)

What likely won’t return anytime soon is the same crowd of parties that marked the years when Harvey Weinstein was a ubiquitous figure at the festival.

Concerns about Covid-19 have not gone away.

Participants will not be tested and are strongly encouraged to dress up.

Few non-streaming companies have the budget for lavish parties.

The crowds will return to Cannes, but to what extent?

“It’s going to be different than ever,” says Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classic and long-time Cannes regular.

“Are they going to throw parties? Will they have Covid concerns? Or will everyone go there and just try to ignore things?

Mr Bernard has noted that some practices in the Cannes market, where distribution rights to films are bought and sold, remain virtual.

Initial meetings with vendors, where executives and producers typically hop between hotels along the Croisette, would have largely taken place on Zoom ahead of the festival, he says.

Deal-making has become more focused.

Cannes, known for being both haughty and frivolous, may have gone a little more sober.

“It’s a repeat of an event that has always been the same in every way,” says Mr. Bernard.

“The routine, I think, will change.”

One thing that can be relied upon with iron certainty at Cannes is the frequent and passionate overtures to the supremacy of the big screen, despite ongoing fundamental shifts in the film industry.

Some films, like Ostlund, which stars Woody Harrelson, hope to straddle the different film worlds colliding at Cannes.

“The goal we set ourselves,” Östlund says, “was to combine the best bits of American cinema with European cinema to try to make something that’s really entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.” The Cannes Film Festival is preparing for a party

Fry Electronics Team

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