As the planet stumbles back into first positions, looking for a past that doesn’t exist anymore, film festivals also tentatively step back into the limelight of a hesitant new world.
First up: Cannes is on again in 2021, though delayed from May to July 6th-17th. Already scheduled for the cancelled 2020 edition, Spike Lee will remain jury president. He’s had Cannes form with successes like She’s Gotta Have It (Youth Award 1986), (film+recent tv series on Netflix) which, excepting some blunders, could arguably be considered a quirky feminist manifesto by today’s standards, and BlacKkKlansman (grand Prix 2016): “His enthusiasm and passion for the cinema give us tenfold energy to prepare the great Festival that everyone is waiting for. We are very impatient!” enthuses Festival Director, Thierry Fremaux. The Cannes champagne, thus Spiked, promises quotable wit and wisdom from El Presidente.
The grand opener is the always greatlt anticipated Leos Carax, with his new opus, Annette. His first in English, it’s a musical film starring Adam Driver as a stand-up comic who falls for a famous soprano, Marion Cotillard. There follows the birth of their ominously gifted child, Annette… By all accounts, it will be the usual delightful mix of mind-bending melodrama and inspired kine-tics.
While awaiting the official list of films to be announced at the June 3rd Press conference, it is already assured that Paul Verhoeven will be back with his latest, Benedetta. The film is based on the 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy” so we can already see there’s plenty grist for the Verhoeven mill. In French, it stars Virginie Effira who also played in his recent success, Elle, and with co-stars stars Charlotte Rampling and Lambert Wilson.
Cannes is also the perennial diplomatic locus where the streaming/theatre dichotomy gets aired publicly and politically. Enhanced by the pandemic’s film industry reset, this conversation has become even more pertinent, especially regarding the exclusivity and availability of films. In Variety, Fremaux, said: “films playing in competition must be released in French theaters. Our rule is that the Palme d’Or and films in competition must be discovered by all audiences. After a year of general catastrophe for theaters around the world, while platforms thrived (and often with brilliant movies from directors who come from the film world), the symbolic and concrete support to theaters is more crucial than ever.”
Will the French Resistance help find an accommodation with the now even wealthier streamers for the benefit of all filmgoers?
The 74th Cannes Film Festival Press conference takes place on Thursday June 3rd at 11am (CEST) at UGC Normandie, on l’avenue des Champs-Elysées. The press conference will be broadcasted live on: