In Cannes under the Covid-19, the glamor is unmasked
For almost everyone who has come to cannes film festival after months in various stages of lockdown and caution, the transition is dizzying.
Even in normal years, Cannes is an assault. But this time diving into full-capacity movie theaters and teeming red carpets is like stepping into another world. The day after the documentary Val Kilmer Val premiered in Cannes, its co-director Ting Poo was still in shock.
“Yesterday was so surreal. Just see the movie with a full house, and here at the most prestigious film festival, ”Poo said. “To go from not being around people to this experience in one day was amazing.”
The pandemic is far from invisible in Cannes. A negative Covid-19 test is required every 48 hours, even for people who have been vaccinated, unless they are getting vaccinated in the European Union. Moviegoers wear masks indoors. Everything is a bit stifled. In general, well-booked hotels have vacancies. Screenings that would typically leave hundreds of people queuing outside don’t fill up. Usual tuxedo ticket seekers praying for alms were kicked out of the Palace, the center of the festival, to free up space.
But in places like the Cannes red carpet, life is almost normal – so “normal” can ever apply to a carpet expanse where coteries of stars drift every few hours like parade floats. The glamor has been unmasked, perhaps more than at any time during the past year and a half of the pandemic.
In the first days of the 74th Cannes Film Festival – held two months later than usual, and after last year’s edition was fully cleaned up – the red carpet looked like what He has always been. Marion Cotillard, Bella Hadid, Matt Damon, Helen Mirren and Adam Driver have all walked around, though they may have all been outclassed fashion wise by Spike Lee in his flamingo pink Louis Vuitton suit. Most walk without a mask, as the mat is outside and most participants are vaccinated – although proof is not required. And there are no fewer photographers than usual to catch the attention of the stars.
The show picked up where it left off. Nature, even the Cannes glitter variety, heals.
“It’s kind of like a weird dream, like waking up from that two-year nap doing nothing and suddenly: Boom,” said Avshalom Pollak, star of Ahed’s Knee by Nadav Lapid, a passionate Israeli drama competing for Golden Palm. “There’s a very special kind of feeling because it’s like, where is the world going? Does it restart? Does this change? What is happening here?”
Cannes takes place in the wake of France’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions and the reopening of international travel. About half of French people have received at least one vaccine, while 38% are fully vaccinated. But the delta variant has raised infections slightly recently, stoking fears of a resurgence. French Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Friday that the delta variant would likely become France’s dominant strain this weekend.
That, along with images of unmasked attendees at premieres, prompted the festival to increase pre-screening mask recalls. Swarming by the beach after the holiday break, in hotels along the Croisette, publicists and film executives have pushed their chairs onto open-air balconies. Cannes Mayor David Lisnard even employed a pair of Covid-19 sniffer dogs to help with screening.
Ahead of the festival, its director Thierry Frémaux said that dinners would be more favored this year than cocktails. On the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur, most of the restaurants are located on the sidewalks. A major concession: Frémaux doesn’t greet guests at the top of the Palace stairs with a kiss – although there have been a few rogue kisses.
“The pandemic is not conquered,” Frémaux said on Tuesday. “So we all have to be careful, even though most festival-goers are vaccinated. “
But because there is such variation from country to country in proof of vaccination – the United States, for example, does not have an official vaccination passport – the festival requires the most testing every other day. The joke is that this year a negative test is the hottest ticket in Cannes. And while some initially complained about the uncluttered process of retreating to a booth to fill a tube with saliva, the tented lab just down Rue du Palais had become a regular stop for festival-goers – as had the Palais Nespresso bar, only less refreshing.
The specially erected test site is made up of 60 medical students. Laboratory director Guillaume Armana said on Friday they were performing up to 4,000 tests per day.
“We are working with the festival and the regional agency,” said Armana, who said any positive test would be confidential. “Right now we have maybe 10,000 people to test and everything is under control. It’s the best way to remake a festival here in Cannes and give new life to people.
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