Only three days have passed in this 75th edition of the festival, but between Tuesday and Thursday there have already been so many emotional moments, so many awards, so many great masters with their new films (and series) in attendance, that it seems as if we have been here a week or more. If there is something that is not lacking in Cannes, it is intensity: every hour (and many times even with activities that overlap each other) there are reasons for the enjoyment of cinephiles.
Not everything is idyllic, however, at the world’s leading festival. The problems in reserving tickets (the online system tends to crash every so often due to the intervention -they say- of some Russian hackers) and a very rigorous security scheme that includes the militarization of the Croisette area and long delays for entering the Palais des festivals for the thorough checks with metal detectors, body searches and bag checks They have generated some annoyance and bad humor among the almost 30,000 attendees at Cannes and its imposing market: the Marché du Film.
What is already history here are the masks. Despite the fact that the organization “suggests” to continue using them inside the Palais and during the projections, the fact is that practically nobody does it anymore: neither in the activities of the festival, nor in the long lines, nor in the glamorous parties, nor in the public transport and much less on the street. When before each projection a recording is heard that appeals to keep the mask on throughout the function people laugh derisively.
The sunny and hot weather that is being enjoyed in Cannes (the beaches are as full as the cinemas) and the drop in cases that France and the rest of Europe are experiencing help to relax, although there are already some notes that warn of the risk that such a concentration of people in closed spaces and without any limitations turn the festival into a “super contagion” worldwide once those 30,000 people return to their countries with the virus in tow.
If the sanitary controls then they are practically nil, Cannes concentrated on preventing any wartime incidents and taking care of the stars. The beginning was dominated by the magnetic figure of Tom Cruisewho gave a generous public interview, walked the red carpet, received a special Palme d’Or and presented a full-fledged tank as “Top Gun: Maverick”. The air show was remarkable inside and outside the theater, because while this kind of very effective sequel to the 1986 film was being enjoyed, now with Joseph Kosinski as director in the place that Tony Scott had occupied for 36 years, several war fighters were flying over the Croisette night enough for the show to be spectacular in every way.
But American cinema was not confined to Hollywood stars shift. Kelly Reichard, who in a few days will premiere here in Official Competition her most recent work entitled “Show Up”again with Michelle Williams as the protagonist, received the Carrosse d’Or prize for the trajectory granted by the parallel section Directors’ Fortnight
The brilliant director of “Old Joy”, “Wendy and Lucy”, “Certain Women” and “First Cow” accompanied a screening of her western “Meek’s Cuttoff”gave a public talk, received the award with a beautiful speech of thanks and will now wait for his new work to be known in the dispute for the Palme d’Or. It also had a good reception “Armageddon Time”from New Yorker James Gray, a coming-of-age story set in 1980s Queens from the point of view of a 12-year-old from a Jewish family with a cast that includes none other than Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins.
Another moment of immense emotion had as protagonists two legends of French cinema such as Jean-Pierre Léaud and Françoise Lebrunwho attended 49 years later the projection in 4K restored copy of “The mother and the whore”the legendary film by Jean Eustache that won here, in the midst of a huge scandal, the Grand Jury Prize chaired in 1973 by the actress Ingmar Bergman.
Those rebellious and impulsive youngsters (the story was about a sexual triangle completed by Bernadette Lafont, who died in 2013)) today they have become two 78-year-olds, but the public greeted them after the performance with more than ten minutes of applause with the entire audience standing and many tears running down the cheeks. Eustache committed suicide when he was just 42 years old, but he left some masterpieces such as “La maman et la putain”, other feature films, short films and documentaries that, luckily, are also in the process of being restored.
But if the American and French production (which had at the official opening to “Coupez!”a zombie comedy with a film-within-a-film structure directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Romain Duris and Bérénice Bejo) tend to dominate the artistic and commercial scene at Cannes each year, at the start of this 75th edition It has been the Italian who has surprised with two extraordinary contributions.
At the inauguration of the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight, Pietro Marcello’s most recent work was seen, “L’Envol”a beautiful film set shortly after the First World War with mostly French producers and actors (from Louis Garrel to Noémie Lvovsky), while the octogenarian Marco Bellocchio was present for the brand new “Esterno notte”, a miniseries of almost six hours about the troubled Italy of the late 1970s with its epicenter in the kidnapping and murder of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in March 1978.
Although the brilliant director of “Vincere” (2009) and “The Traitor” (2019) had already been interested in this fact that shook and forever changed Italian society and politics in the film “Buongiorno, notte” (2003 ), now reconstructs the facts from various points of view: that of Aldo Moro himself (Fabrizio Gifuni), that of Francesco Cossiga (Fausto Russo Alesi), one of Moro’s disciples in the Christian Democracy; that of Pope Paul VI (Toni Servillo), a personal friend of the leader; that of Adriana Faranda (Daniela Marra) and Valerio Morucci (Gabriel Montesi), a couple who are members of the Red Brigades who carried out the coup; and that of Eleonora Chiavarelli (Margherita Buy), Moro’s wife.
And, like any area where the political has repercussions and is amplified in a permanent and forceful way, Cannes opened to show the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in all its dimensions. Initially, he chose “Tchaikovsky’s Wife”, by Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov, for the Official Competition. The director – who spent a long time under house arrest due to his opposition to Vladimir Putin’s government – managed to settle in Germany a few months ago and took the opportunity in Cannes to make a heartbreaking public plea against the war.
Even stronger and more moving was the screening of “Mariupol 2”. Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravičius was captured and killed by the Russian army last April while filming in battle zones. His girlfriend Hanna Bilobrova, who was with him at the time and was able to rescue the material, and the page editor Dounia Sichov urgently edited the material and presented it this Thursday 19th with the title of Mariupolis 2 (Kvedaravičius had already filmed the Donbass conflict in 2014 and 2015 in the film “Mariupol”).
Context of war and rampant inflation around the world, the aftermath of the coronavirus, a lot of paranoia and security measures, but also cinephilia, glamour, parties and business… Cannes, with all those contrasts that make it fascinating, continues step by step firm against everything and everyone. The show, it is known, must go on.