The Cannes Film Festival at 70

Yes, the film festival celebrates its 70th birthday this year, and as we mentioned in a previous blog, has been advertising that fact for some time. It is however in several senses a nervous 70th birthday. There is understandable and open unease about the security but also a deep fear about the new technology. The film world has seen what has happened to the music trade and is worried for the future.

Okja is a film that caused controversy because it was produced for and by Netflix and not for the cinema. 

Still Cannes rolls on. The film festival dominates the town in a way other big events don’t: every hotel seems to have advertising on it and the yachts in the marina are hung with names of sponsors who have hired them. We could probably boost church finances by marketing our exterior wall space.

With Chris away at an conference for Anglican Readers and Readers-in-Training in Cologne, Alison decided that it would be a good idea to go to church by train. Car parking in Cannes during the film festival is bad, and with the new security restrictions, has become horrendous. All the parking spaces round the church had in fact been reserved for official vehicles and someone’s car was being towed away just before the service started.

The unfortunate owner was too late to move this car before it was towed away

As you’d expect, security was tight. Even the beach where they show the free films was blocked off this year, though happily for those who wanted to sunbathe some of it was still accessible.

Even if you don’t go to any of the films, or see any of the stars, Cannes during the film festival is still a lot of fun. The town is even more outrageous than usual, and the “please-look-at-me” stakes are so high that there are some quite outrageous outfits and individuals to be seen. It’s perfectly normal to see people having their makeup done in public.

Hair and make-up must be just right for Cannes

There were the usual queues for registration to get that all-important badge, and photographers waiting to take pictures of the celebrities. A quick Google tells us that this year these included Will Smith, Bella Hadid, Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Dustin Hoffman, Ryan Gosling…. One gets the impression that the one thing worse than being at Cannes and having your film booed is to be at Cannes and to be ignored by the press.

It was quite a relief to get away from it and into church. There were a number of visitors attending the festival, including the excellent and biblical Rachel Zylstra, an American singer-songwriter based in Edinburgh, who sang twice during the service.

At the time of writing, the festival is literally on its last gasp, and everyone is about to breathe out a long sigh of utter relief. Cannes has survived its 70th birthday, but as the stars and directors depart, the question lingers: will it be around for its 80th?

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