The 75th Cannes Film Festival kicked off Tuesday with an eye on Russia’s war in Ukraine and a live satellite video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called on a new generation of filmmakers to confront dictators as Charlie Chaplin lampooned to Adolf Hitler.
After the tributes and musical numbers, Zelenskyy was broadcast live to the formally dressed audience that had gathered for the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie comedy Final Cut.
Zelenskyy, dressed in his trademark olive green shirt, received a thunderous applause and spoke at length about the connection between cinema and reality. He referenced films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator as similar to the current circumstances in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy quoted Chaplin’s final speech in The Great Dictator, which was published in 1940, in the early days of World War II: “The hatred of men will pass away, and dictators will die, and the power they took from the people will return.” to town. .”
“We need a new Chaplin who will show that the cinema of our time is not silent,” Zelenskyy implored.
The Ukrainian president urged filmmakers not to “remain silent” as hundreds continue to die in Ukraine, Europe’s biggest war since World War II, and shows that cinema “is always on the side of freedom.”
The war will be a regular presence at Cannes, where the festival has banned Russians with government ties from attending this year. Several films by prominent Ukrainian filmmakers will be screened, including Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary The Natural History of Destruction. His fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova, will also show footage shot by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius before he was killed in Mariupol in April.
Even Final Cut, the latest film from The Artist filmmaker Hazanavicius, was originally given the name Z, after Ukrainian protesters noted that the letter Z to some symbolizes support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Formally dressed stars like Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Bérénice Bejo and No Time to Die star Lashana Lynch were among those walking the famous Cannes red carpet on Tuesday. More star-studded premieres: Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis! — await for the next 12 days, during which 21 films will compete for the festival’s top prestigious award, the Palme d’Or.
But Tuesday’s opening and carefully choreographed red-carpet parade leading up the steps of the Grand Théâtre Lumière restored one of cinema’s grandest spectacles again after a two-year pandemic that has defied the exalted stature Cannes annually bestows on cinema. .
“Dear friends, let us get out of this darkness together,” said the host of the opening ceremony, Virginie Efira.
After last year requiring regular COVID-19 tests and masks in theaters, and no kisses on the red carpet, Cannes has largely scrapped pandemic protocols. Indoor masks are recommended but rarely worn.
Cannes presented an honorary Palme d’Or to Forest Whitaker, who received a standing ovation. Whitaker, who won the best actor award at Cannes 34 years ago for his portrayal of Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood’s Bird, said as he walked up the steps of the Palais des Festivals on Tuesday, he could still hear chants of “Clint! Clint! ringing in his ears. Eastwood is one of the few to have received a Palm of Honor.
On Tuesday, Cannes also announced the jury that will award the Palme d’Or. French actor Vincent Lindon heads a jury that includes Deepika Padukone, Rebecca Hall, Asghar Farhadi, Trinca, Ladj Ly, Noomi Rapace, Jeff Nichols and Joachim Trier. .
Questions about gender equality have long surrounded the Cannes Film Festival, where no more than five filmmakers have been part of the Palme competition lineup and only two female directors have won it. On Monday, Fremaux defended the festival, arguing that it selects films solely on the basis of quality. Hall, who last year made her directorial debut with the film Passing, was asked about her opinion of the Cannes record.
“I think it’s a work in progress. I mean the entire film industry, not just the Cannes Film Festival,” Hall replied. “How to deal with these things needs to be addressed at the grassroots level as well. It’s not just festivals or crowd-facing situations. It’s about all the minutiae of what’s going on in the industry at large.”
Farhadi, the Oscar-winning Iranian director, has also spoken for the first time about an ongoing plagiarism lawsuit regarding his previous film, A Hero, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes last year. A former film student of Farhadi’s, Azadeh Masihzadeh, has accused him of stealing the idea for the film from a 2018 documentary she made at a workshop given by Farhadi.
Speaking at length, Farhadi said that A Hero was not based on the documentary.
“It was based on a current event, so this documentary and this film are based on an event that happened two years before the workshop,” Farhadi said. “When an event takes place and is covered by the press, it becomes public knowledge and you can do whatever you want about the event. You can write a story or make a movie about the event. You can consult the information of this event. A hero is just an interpretation of this event.”
In tradition-keeping Cannes, the world’s largest and most dazzling temple to cinema, cinema, controversy and glamor mingle in a 12-day extravaganza of red carpet premieres and riotous film deals on the Croisette. Theatrical release is a requirement for any film competing for the Palme, which has prevented streaming services from playing a significant role at Cannes.
But this year, a new festival partner, TikTok, has turned heads. The festival hosts TikTok creators from all over the world and hosts a separate contest for the best (very short) videos created during the festival. Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of Cannes, admitted that TikTok was not the future of cinema.
“Cinema is still the ultimate art,” said Fremaux.