Decked out in a shimmering silver Chanel gown, Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard has helped kick off Cannes’ comeback as movie stars from far and wide descended onto the red carpet for the French cinema showcase.
The world’s biggest film festival is marking its return after skipping 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in slightly more subdued form, with fewer attendees and parties over the 12-day whirlwind of film premieres.
Stars were out in force on the French Riviera for the opening ceremony in a show of support for an industry hammered by the pandemic after theatres closed for months.
Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonca Filho – one of the jury members who will pick the winner of the top Palme D’Or award – said the showcase marked his personal return to cinema.
“It will be my first time in a cinema for 15 months,” Mr Filho said earlier on Tuesday.
Hollywood stars Jessica Chastain and Adam Driver – who star alongside Cotillard in musical Annette, the opening film – were among celebrities who travelled to France for the event.
Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar and British actress Helen Mirren also made their way to the Riviera for the festival.
In a pearl-coloured Givenchy shift dress, Jodie Foster, who first came to Cannes as a 13-year-old when she starred in Taxi Driver, received a lifetime achievement award.
Sean Penn and Wes Anderson will be among heavy hitters vying for prizes in the main film competition, one of several parallel events and premieres taking place over the next fortnight.
They include outdoor screenings on the beach along Cannes’ famed Croisette walkway, where tourists beginning their summer holidays in the resort city will get a chance to catch a glimpse of Hollywood royalty.
The festival retains a French flavour, and will showcase the latest outings by directors Francois Ozon and Jacques Audiard as well as Catherine Corsini’s The Divide, set in modern day France against the backdrop of Yellow Vest anti-government demonstrations.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux on Monday stood by strict French rules barring inclusion in the movie competition for films promoted by streaming platforms like Netflix unless they get a run in cinema theatres first.
US director Spike Lee, who wore a hot pink suit for the opening ceremony, chimed into the long-running Cannes versus Netflix debate, supporting the platform on which he released Da 5 Bloods at the height of pandemic lockdowns in 2020.
“Cinema and screening platforms can coexist at one time,” Lee said on Tuesday.
“There was a thinking once that TV was going to kill cinema. This stuff is not new.”
There are 24 films and their directors competing for the 74th Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or for best picture, including Australian Justin Kurzel for Nitram.
Here are the 2021 contenders:
- Annette – Leos Carax – opening film – (France)
- Flag Day – Sean Penn (USA)
- Tout S’est Bien Passe – Francois Ozon (France)
- A Hero – Asghar Farhadi (Iran)
- Tre Piani – Nanni Moretti (Italy)
- Titane – Julia Ducournau (France)
- Hytti Nro 6 (Compartment No. 6) – Juho Kuosmanen (Finland)
- The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson (USA)
- La Fracture – Catherine Corsini (France)
- Lingiu – Mahamat Saleh-Haron (Chad)
- Memoria – Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
- Nitram – Justin Kurzel (Australia)
- Par un Demi Clair Matin – Bruno Dumont (France)
- Paris, 13th District – Jacques Audiard (France)
- Petrov’s Flu – Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
- Red Rocket – Sean Baker (USA)
- The Restless (Les Intranquilles) – Joachim Lafosse (Belgium)
- The Story of My Wife – Ildiko Enyedi (Hungary)
- The Worst Person in the World – Joachim Trier (Norway)
- Ahed’s Knee – Nadav Lapid (Israel)
- Benedetta – Paul Verhoeven (Netherlands)
- Bergman Island – Mia Hansen-Love (France)
- Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)
- Casablanca Beats – Nabil Ayouch (Morocco)