The Palais des Festivals is the centre of the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a huge bulwark full of filmmaker-named halls as well as pristine movie screens. This is as close as you can get a cinema temple. Red-carpeted steps are required to enter.
However, Cannes’ Palais has not been home to the annual movie frenzy for 16 months. The festival was delayed and then cancelled last year. In the first months of the pandemic, the Palais was instead lined with hospital beds. It was transformed into a mass-vaccination facility called “Vaccinodrome” earlier in the year.
The Cannes Film Festival will open its doors on Tuesday for its 74th edition, after being delayed from May through July. The red carpet, which is renowned for its fame, will once again be flooded with stars. The screens will be lit again. The movies may even rekindle the romance and grandeur that was lost during the pandemic year.
“It’s a sort of pilgrimage, or Mecca,” Mark Cousins, a Scottish-based filmmaker whose film “The Story of Film: a New Generation”, will be shown on the Cannes beach. Leos Carax will be presenting his “Annette” musical, which he has been anticipating, in the Palais. His freewheeling fictions are a reflection of real movie dreams.
Cannes is a world-famous film festival that has become a standard-bearer for big screen cinema. Every year, the pressure to mount it is immense. As a barometer of the art form, its fluctuations are closely watched. Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” was launched in Cannes’ last Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner , before it won best picture at Oscars.
This year, however, Cannes’ greatest responsibility may be to jolt moviegoers awake after the film world fell into hibernation. Thierry Fremaux, Cannes artistic Director, declared that “Cinema was not dead” when he announced the lineup.
“When Thierry Fremaux called after he saw the film, he said that ‘we’ve been asleep’ and that he wanted to wake up and continue where he left off. Cousins will also present a documentary about British film producer and regular at Cannes, Jeremy Thomas. “I can’t wait to see the overwhelm, the deluge and the exhaustion in Cannes.
Cannes will be the premier major film festival to try an essentially complete edition. There will not be a virtual component. There will be no empty seats between festivalgoers (masked). Every 48 hours, attendees must be tested or vaccinated for COVID-19. The Croisette is the main drag of the French Riviera city.
Festivals that are based on a strict, clockwork rhythm will have many things in common. Due to travel restrictions, many people from overseas won’t have the opportunity to attend. The usual large contingent from the film industry will not be there. This means that there will be fewer people able to attend for a week of hectic deal-making on yachts or hotel terraces. The Cannes movie market was held in June to reduce crowds. It is possible that stunts such as Sacha Baron Cohen’s ride on a camel down Croisette may be rare.
Some traditions that have been passed down through the generations were also removed from the red carpet. Fremaux usually meets all the filmmakers and casts at the Palais steps. He greets them with the traditional European greeting of pecks to each cheek. It will be a Cannes without kisses under COVID.