Back to normal? The Cannes Film Festival prepares for the party

After the 2020 Cannes Film Festival was canceled due to the pandemic and the 2021 edition was scaled back (even banned)

With kisses on the red carpet ), the French Riviera’s lavish cinematic soiree is ready to return with a festival that promises to be something normal.

Or at least the very particular brand of Cannes normality, where for 12 days formal wear and cinema mingle in sun-dappled splendor, stopwatch-timed standing ovations go on for minutes, and directors’ names like ” Kore-eda” and “Denis” are spoken with silent reverence.

What passes for the ordinary in Cannes has never been particularly ordinary, but it has proven remarkably resilient to the fluctuations of the weather. Since its first festival, in 1946, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Cannes has remained a maximalist spectacle that puts world cinema and the glamor of the Côte d’Azur in the spotlight. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Cannes.

“Hopefully now it will be a normal Cannes again,” says Ruben Östlund, who returns this year with the social satire “Triangle of Sadness,” a follow-up to his 2017 Palme d’Or-winning film “The Square.”

“It’s a fantastic place if you’re a filmmaker. You feel like you have the attention of the film world,” adds Östlund. “Hearing the buzz that’s going on, people talking about the different movies. Hopefully, they’re talking about your movie.”

This year’s Cannes, which opens Tuesday with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’s zombie flick “Z,” will be played out not only against the late ebbs of the pandemic and the rising tide of streaming, but also against the biggest war that Europe has seen since World War II, in the Ukraine. Started as a product of the war – the festival was initially launched as a French rival to the Venice Film Festival, in which Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler had begun to interfere – this year’s Cannes Film Festival will once again resonate with the echoes of a festival not so far away. remove the conflict.

Cannes organizers have banned Russians with government ties from entering the festival. 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 Kvedaravicius before he was killed in Mariupol in April.

At the same time, Cannes will host more Hollywood stars than in the last three years. Pandemic-delayed Joseph Kosinski’s “Top Gun: Maverick” will be screened shortly before its theatrical release. Tom Cruise will walk the carpet and sit down for a rare career-spanning interview.

“Every director’s dream is to be able to go to Cannes one day,” says Kosinski. “Going there with this film and with Tom, screening it there and being a part of the retrospective they’re going to do for him, it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Warner Bros. will release Baz Luhrmann’s flashy “Elvis,” starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. George Miller, last in Cannes with “Mad Max: Fury Road”, will premiere his epic fantasy “Thee Thousand Years of Longing”, with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Ethan Coen will release his first film without his brother Joel’s, “Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind,” a documentary about the rock ‘n’ roll legend made from archival footage. Also debuting: James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in New York with Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.

Far from all Hollywood will be present. Cannes regulations regarding theatrical release have essentially ruled out streaming services from the competition lineup from which the Palme d’Or winner is chosen. This year’s jury is chaired by French actor Vincent Lindon.

Last year’s Palme winner, Julia Ducournau’s explosive “Titane,” starring Lindon, was only the second time Cannes’ top honor went to a female filmmaker. This year, there are five films directed by women in competition for the Palm, a record for Cannes but a low percentage compared to other international festivals.

This year’s lineup is also packed with festival veterans and former Palm winners, including Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Broker”), Christian Mungiu’s (“RMN”), and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes (“Tori and Lokita” ). Iconoclastic filmmakers like Claire Denis (“Stars at Noon”), David Cronenberg (“Crimes of the Future”) and Park Chan-wook (“Decision to Leave”) are also nominated for the Palme, as is Kelly Reichardt, who returns to team up with Michelle Williams on “Appearing.”