Cannes Film Festival spent $ 1 million on Covid-19 testing
The 74th annual Cannes Film Festival has beaten all odds, delivering two weeks of nonstop films – and big stars such as Matt Damon, Regina King and Timothée Chalamet – amid a global pandemic.
It was not an easy task. Variety has learned that the festival has donated more than $ 1 million to cover the costs of regular, free COVID testing for about 28,000 attendees. Those in the European Union could bypass such procedures by showing proof of vaccination, but there was no guarantee that people would not get sick as the Delta variant spread around the world.
When French actress Léa Seydoux, who had three films in competition, canceled her trip to Cannes after testing positive for COVID-19, which she contracted on a film set, some feared it was the start of a wave of cases.
But so far there have been no reports of major outbreaks outside Cannes. Even rumors that French President Emmanuel Macron would shut down the festival turned out to be unfounded, as the country’s stricter rules for admission to cultural events did not come into effect until after Cannes.
“It was a wonderful and also exceptional festival,” says Thierry Frémaux, artistic director of the festival. Variety after the end of the festivities on July 17. “We managed to do it at the right time and under almost normal conditions thanks to an intelligent and responsible protocol.
International stars and top executives came in large numbers. Adam Driver flew to France for the world premiere of the opening musical, “Annette”. Wes Anderson’s comedy “The French Dispatch” received a nine-minute standing ovation for its leading cast, including Chalamet, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton. Contrary to the Cannes tradition, the ensemble showed up together in a party bus instead of a car with driver.
Spike Lee, the festival’s first black jury chairman, was in the spotlight. It has gone viral for accidentally revealing the winner of the Palme d’Or – “Titanium”, a provocative drama in which a woman gets impregnated by a car – topping the Cannes Awards. Other festival highlights include Damon in tears during the standing ovation for “Stillwater” and the premiere of “Aline,” an exaggerated biopic inspired by the life of Celine Dion.
“We had not imagined that the reunion would be so sumptuous,” says Frémaux, who admits to never having seen so many standing ovations in Cannes.
It has also turned out to be a festival of firsts in other ways. “Titane” director Julia Ducournau became the first woman to win a Palme d’Or solo. Frémaux specifies that the prize was chosen by a “historic jury, chaired by a black artist and composed mainly of women. It is a victory that reflects the world as it is and the festival’s aspiration to be inclusive, pioneer and modern.
As for the negotiation, it was not as fast as in normal times. Distributors, who are still unsure of the calculation of movie ticket sales, have been cautious. But once the dust settled, Cannes had enough prestigious pacts to satisfy most buyers.
“Nothing will ever replace the powerful experience of watching a movie on the big screen at a festival,” says Grégoire Melin of Kinology, the sales banner behind “Annette” and “Ahed’s Knee” by Nadav Lapid. “We have seen that selling films based on virtual screenings takes longer without word of mouth.”
Many major independent actors, including Neon, A24, IFC Films and Sony Pictures Classics, have left France with new titles for their upcoming lists.
“Frémaux was able to bring together filmmakers and put together a list of quite remarkable films under such pressure and difficulty”, explains Michael Barker, co-head of Sony Pictures Classics, who bought “Compartment n ° 6” from Juho Kuosmanen before his release. Grand Prix. at Cannes. “Almost all of the films I have seen were of very high quality.”
Sony Pictures also scored big points in France with “Mothering Sunday”, an award-winning hope set in the 1920s and directed by Eva Husson. Barker says the festival’s biggest achievement has been to put the spotlight on cinema.
“As we’ve spent the lockdown watching these movies on the small screen, you can certainly see the big difference and the impact of the big screen,” Barker said. “In Cannes, we really had the feeling that this viewing on the big screen is not going to go away. “
Nathanaël Karmitz, head of MK2 Films, who screened nine films at Cannes, including “The Worst Person in the World” by Joachim Trier, accepted.
“It was a renaissance in many ways, feeling the collective pleasure again, seeing artists and seeing Cannes, the biggest film festival in the world, giving a new start to the world of independent cinema after a long hiatus,” said Karmitz, who attended Cannes. for 20 years.
Although the competition lineup was slightly overloaded with French films, the festival as a whole felt truly international.
“People had said: ‘The Americans will not be present at Cannes’, but in the end the decent number of transactions shows that there is still an interest in prestigious films on the festival bill,” explains the director of the festival. ‘Anton Cécile Gaget, who sold “Curs> r” to Netflix at the start of the festival.
Now all eyes will be on the fall film festivals – Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York – to see if they can replicate the same success.