Cannes rolls out red carpet to celebrate films, support Ukraine war
Organizers delighted to host festival in normal conditions
After two years of low-scale action in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Cannes Film Festival kickstarts on Tuesday on the French Riviera “under normal conditions” with a promising selection of international cinema, influential fashion, and star-studded film royalty.
Thierry Fremaux, the director of the festival, told BFMTV news he was delighted that the festival is back with no health restrictions that canceled the 2020 edition and forced organizers to dim down events in 2021. He expected higher attendance this year and said there was a “sign of impatience, a desire to reconnect" in the film world for the start of the 12-day festival from May 17-28.
The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival pays homage to Peter Weir's cult comedy The Truman Show, which has inspired the festival's official poster featuring the scene from the movie with Jim Carrey climbing the sky-painted stairway questioning the blurred borders of reality, manipulative fiction and escape.
This year, around 40 films will be screened in the official and non-competitive categories, including an impressive line-up from David Cronenberg's The Crimes of the Future, Baz Luhrmann's musical spectacle Elvis, Claire Denis's Stars at Noon, Park Chan-Wook's Decision to Leave and George Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing to Hirokazu Kore-eda's Broker.
French film director Michel Hazanavicius, who wowed audiences with the Oscar-winning The Artist in 2011, will open the festival with his zombie comedy Final Cut.
After three decades, Tom Cruise, who made an appearance at Cannes in 1992, will walk up the steps of the Palais des Festivals for Top Gun: Maverick, which is also due to premiere at the festival. Cannes will also pay a special tribute to Cruise's career.
Celebrating global cinema
Another Hollywood heavyweight actor, producer, and director, Forest Whitaker, who starred in Good Morning, Vietnam, Bird, The Last King of Scotland, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Black Panther, and Panic Room, will be the honorary guest at the opening ceremony and will be awarded the honorary Palme d'Or for his artistic work and commitment to humanitarian issues.
Global bigwigs like Spanish actor Javier Bardem, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, and India's Deepika Padukone will also mark their presence in the Rendezvous section and as a jury.
The open-air Cinema du Plage or cinema by the beach on the Croisette that offers free screenings for cinephiles will celebrate 50 years of The Godfather, the 40th anniversary of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and pay tribute to French icon Jean-Paul Belmondo, who passed away last September, actor Gerard Philipe and American director Peter Bogdanovich.
On the commercial side, at the Marche du Film or film market, India will be the “country of honor,” a new category that will feature different countries in future editions annually. The India Pavilion will focus on positioning India as the “Content Hub of the World.”
Support for Ukraine
As is the case of the entire Europe, the festival is also not untouched by the reeling consequences of the Ukraine war. The Cannes organizers decided to denounce Russia's actions by prohibiting the participation of official Russian delegations and any figures linked to the government. Given the festival's history, which “started in 1939 in resistance to the fascist and Nazi dictatorship,” organizers have placed a special emphasis on supporting films and artists from Ukraine, said a statement from the Cannes Film Festival.
Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius's last film Mariupolis 2 was added to the official list of films after reports of his death came in April. He was taken hostage and killed by the Russian army in the besieged city of Mariupol. The film, which "shows the life that continues under the bombs and reveals images as tragic as they bring hope," will be screened on May 19 and 20. Kvedaravicius, who previously directed Barzakh, Mariupol and Parthenon, returned to Donbas this year to film Mariupolis 2.
The 1999 Est-Ouest movie, partially filmed in Kyiv, will be screened at the open-air beach “to show our support for the Ukrainian people and their hardships.”
The festival will also bring Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's The Natural History of Destruction based on World War II archive footage at the special screening and Maksym Nakonechnyi's Butterfly Vision on rape crimes committed in Donbas in the Uncertain Regard section.