A year ago who could have thought that the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival would not be drawing physical crowds of the world’s leading celebrities to Monte Carlo and Cannes for their 2020 editions. Unthinkable that a pandemic would sweep the world. Unthinkable that the main casualties would be the world’s most glittering events.
Yet here we are in June when normally the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix and the winners of the Palme d’Or at Cannes would be on everyone’s lips. At least we did get to see one type of “Première” with Claude Lelouch shooting “Le Grand Rendez-Vous” in the newly architected Casino Square and on the Grand Prix track with Charles LeClerc at the wheel of the Ferrari SF90 Stradale and with a cameo appearance by Prince Albert.
That shooting took place in the Principality on May 24th, the date on which the Monaco Grand Prix was due to take place. “Le Grand rendez-vous” was made as a tribute to one of Lelouch’s previous short films from 1976, shot in Paris, entitled “C’était un rendez-vous”. The Grand Rendez-Vous will be broadcast on Canal+ on June 13th at 9 p.m. during a tribute to the French director and just before cinemas will reopen in France on June 22nd.
As for the Cannes Film Festival itself, a “virtual version” has just taken place on June 3rd on the Champs Elysees in Paris at the iconic UGC cinema where in February 2004, its largest room the Grand Normandie coincidently welcomed the director Claude Lelouch and actors Mathilde Seigner, Massimo Ranieri and Alessandra Martines, for filming takes of the trailer for the Parisians.
This is where Thierry Frémaux (General Delegat) and Pierre Lescure, president for his third term of the Cannes Film Festival bravely announced a very expansive selection of 56 films which will carry the honour of having been presented in the 2020 Festival.
Le Grand Normandie, screening cinema hall renovated in 2019, notably hosted the unique preview in France of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio as well as director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix for the world premiere of the movie Joker. And so for the third time in the long existence of the Festival, the previous two being, World War II and then May 1968, there will be no Palme d’Or presented nor posing on the red carpet in spectacular gowns and tuxedos. But at least we did have this “virtual” celebration with Pierre Lescure just as enthusiastic as ever.
There was never any question of giving up or cancelling. The record 2,067 films narrowed down to the prestigious 56 nominations have now been presented and reported around the world – only 3 films less than the 59 of last year. And these 56 will have the special distinction and label of Cannes Film Festival 2020 to their name, if not a trophy or red-carpet presentation.
In the official words of the Festival itself from its site: “This Selection is here, and it’s a beautiful one. Even though movie theatres have been shut for three months – for the first time since the invention of film screening by the Lumière Brothers on December 28, 1895 – this Selection reflects that cinema is more alive than ever. It remains unique, irreplaceable. We live in a world where moving images are in constant evolution, whether we talk of the way the movies are shown or the movies themselves. Cinema makes a difference thanks to those who make it, those who give it life and those who receive it and make it glorious. “Coming soon to a theatre near you”: the formula has never been so compelling. We will see it soon: cinema is not dead, it’s not even sick.”
Sixteen of the films were directed by women; a statistic that we keep an eagle eye on is refreshingly increasing- at sixteen, it is two more than last year. The selection also gives pride of place to French cinema, that is to say 21 films.
The nominations are marked by fifteen directors’ first films – also a record – with a bevy of celebrities: Garçon Chiffon by and with Nicolas Maury and Nathalie Baye, Falling by Viggo Mortensen, L’origine du monde, a comedy by Laurent Lafitte but also 16 printemps by Suzanne Lindon, the daughter of Sandrine Kiberlain and Vincent Lindon.
Some highly anticipated films were not present (for example Benedetta by Paul Verhoeven with Virginie Efira) but will likely await the Red Carpet in La Croisette in 2021.
Celebrated releases included Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” starring Benicio Del Toro and Timothée Chalamet, the Kate Winslet-Saoirse Ronan romance “Ammonite,” and Pixar’s “Soul.” Carrying the Cannes distinction , some of these movies will migrate to festivals like Telluride, Toronto, and Sundance — unless they, too, are delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
Worth mentioning are the highly anticipated The French Dispatch, filmed in Angoulême, choral film with Benicio del Toro, Frances Mac Dormand and Lea Seydoux (whose release is scheduled for this fall). Also the French François Ozon (Summer Eté 85) and Maïwenn (ADN), the Japanese Naomi Kawase (True Mothers), and the British director Steve McQueen with two protest films.
What was going to be a packed 73rd edition live extravaganza on the red carpet in Cannes with Spike Lee has at least shone a virtual light from the Champs Elysees in Paris. We are most definitely impatiently awaiting the 74th edition in 2021.
For the Full List of 56 nominations check out the official website.