There's No Escaping the Brutal World, Even at Cannes – Vanity Fair


The 70th Cannes Film Festival ended on Sunday, with Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s biting social satire The Square winning the Palme d’Or. It was an interesting choice from the Pedro Almodóvar-led jury, a rare comedy win and something of a welcome rebuke to a darkness that consumed much of the competition lineup. (Though, there is plenty of darkness in Östlund’s film.) In a year marked, and marred, by political anxieties, Cannes was often a strange place to be during the festival’s 11-day run, its opulence and excitement standing in stark contrast to the grim goings on surrounding it.

Which often made for tough, off-putting viewing. The jury’s second-place winner, the marvelous AIDS drama Beats Per Minute, offered some sense of hope amidst the despair, but many of the films premiering at the festival trafficked in a bleakness, a nihilism that made them hard to engage with. There was much praise heaped on one of the last competition entries to screen, Lynne Ramsay’s ponderous rescue thriller You Were Never Really Here (it won best actor and screenplay on Sunday), but I walked out of the film feeling utterly disconnected from it, hungry for some real feeling to go along with all its beautiful and forbidding imagery. I felt similarly about Yorgos Lanthimos’s brutal The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which shared the best screenplay prize with You Were Never Really Here. Ramsay and Lanthimos are directors of abundant talent, and yet their Cannes films were so cramped and muted and misanthropic. I had hoped for visions that were more expansive, less alienating. Maybe I would have responded to these two insular downers more positively in a different year, but at Cannes in 2017, they left me cold.

Despite the near-perfect weather—70s and sunny almost every day!—coldness was the presiding feeling at the festival. I heard complaints that, despite a luminary-stacked lineup, the festival was an oddly muted one, with some disappointments from established directors (Todd Haynes’s cluttered children’s movie Wonderstruck comes immediately to mind) and few exciting discoveries. Cannes always suffers a bit from its context—it’s hard for any film to live up to the lavish expectations set up by the festival, set so picturesquely on the Riviera and drenched in glamour and pomp—but this year the festival seemed particularly at odds with itself. That may be a problem of my own perspective, the festival’s fabulousness fading some as it becomes more routine each year I attend. But I heard many other critics say similar things throughout the two weeks. Something was off, there was an imbalance, an unease.

Full ScreenPhotos:The 2017 Cannes Red Carpet’s Best-Dressed Celebrities

Day 10: Diane Kruger

At the photocall for In The Fade (Aus Dem Nichts).

Photo: By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 10: Jessica Chastain

Going to the Mayor’s Aioli.

Photo: From Iconic/GC Images.

Day 10: Fan Bingbing

At the premiere of Amant Double (L’Amant Double).

Photo: By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 10: Praya Lundberg

At the premiere of Amant Double (L’Amant Double).

Photo: By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 1: Elle Fanning

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

Photo: By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 1: Susan Sarandon

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

Photo: From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 1: Robin Wright

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

Photo: By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 10: Diane Kruger

Day 10: Diane Kruger

At the photocall for In The Fade (Aus Dem Nichts).

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 10: Jessica Chastain

Day 10: Jessica Chastain

Going to the Mayor’s Aioli.

From Iconic/GC Images.

Day 10: Fan Bingbing

Day 10: Fan Bingbing

At the premiere of Amant Double (L’Amant Double).

By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 10: Praya Lundberg

Day 10: Praya Lundberg

At the premiere of Amant Double (L’Amant Double).

By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 10: Marine Vacth

Day 10: Marine Vacth

At the premiere of Amant Double (L’Amant Double).

By Kristina Nikishina/Getty Images.

Day 10: Borisleva Stratieva

Day 10: Borisleva Stratieva

At the photocall for Posoki.

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 10: Clotilde Hesme

Day 10: Clotilde Hesme

At the Jury Cinefondation.

By Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images.

Day 9: Anja Rubik

Day 9: Anja Rubik

At the amfAR Gala.

By Gisela Schober/Getty Images.

Day 9: Bella Hadid

Day 9: Bella Hadid

At the amfAR Gala.

By Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic.

Day 9: Uma Thurman

Day 9: Uma Thurman

At the amfAR Gala.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 9: Tracee Ellis Ross

Day 9: Tracee Ellis Ross

At the amfAR Gala.

From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 9: Nicole Kidman

Day 9: Nicole Kidman

At the amfAR Gala.

By Mike Marsland/WireImage.

Day 9: Joan Smalls

Day 9: Joan Smalls

At the amfAR Gala.

By Andreas Rentz/French Select.

Day 9: Karolina Kurkova

Day 9: Karolina Kurkova

At the amfAR Gala.

By Andreas Rentz/French Select.

Day 9: Camila Morrone

Day 9: Camila Morrone

At the amfAR Gala.

By Andreas Rentz/French Select.

Day 9: Daphne Groeneveld

Day 9: Daphne Groeneveld

At the amfAR Gala.

By Gisela Schober/Getty Images.

Day 8: Nicole Kidman

Day 8: Nicole Kidman

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 8: Sofia Coppola

Day 8: Sofia Coppola

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images.

Day 8: Laetitia Dosch

Day 8: Laetitia Dosch

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 8: Hailey Baldwin

Day 8: Hailey Baldwin

Left: Walking around town; Right: At the premiere of The Beguiled.

Left; by Iconic/GC Images, Right; by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 8: Doutzen Kroes

Day 8: Doutzen Kroes

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Day 8: Jasmine Tookes

Day 8: Jasmine Tookes

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 8: Lara Stone

Day 8: Lara Stone

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Day 8: Elsa Hosk

Day 8: Elsa Hosk

At the premiere of The Beguiled.

By Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Day 7: Jessica Chastain

Day 7: Jessica Chastain

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock.

Day 7: Tilda Swinton

Day 7: Tilda Swinton

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 7: Elle Fanning

Day 7: Elle Fanning

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 7: Isabelle Huppert

Day 7: Isabelle Huppert

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 7: Uma Thurman

Day 7: Uma Thurman

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 7: Nicole Kidman

Day 7: Nicole Kidman

Left: At the photocall for Top of the Lake: China Girl. Right: At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

Left; by Dominique Charriau/WireImage, Right; by Valery HacheAFP/Getty Images.

Day 7: Naomi Campbell

Day 7: Naomi Campbell

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 7: Marion Cotillard

Day 7: Marion Cotillard

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Day 7: Salma Hayek

Day 7: Salma Hayek

At the Cannes 70th Anniversary Celebration.

By Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images.

Day 7: Laetitia Dosch

Day 7: Laetitia Dosch

At the photocall for Jeune Femme.

Venturelli

Day 6: Isabelle Huppert

Day 6: Isabelle Huppert

At the photocall for Happy End.

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 6: Celine Sallette

Day 6: Celine Sallette

At the photocall for Our Crazy Years (Nos Annees Folles)

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 6: Nicole Kidman

Day 6: Nicole Kidman

At the premiere of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 6: Jourdan Dunn

Day 6: Jourdan Dunn

At the premiere of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 6: Andie MacDowell

Day 6: Andie MacDowell

At the premiere of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

By Gisela Schober/Getty Images.

Day 6: Izabel Goulart

Day 6: Izabel Goulart

At the premiere of The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 5: Isabelle Huppert

Day 5: Isabelle Huppert

At the Women in Motion Awards Dinner.

By Venturelli/Getty Images.

Day 5: Uma Thurman

Day 5: Uma Thurman

At the Women in Motion Awards Dinner.

By Venturelli/Getty Images.

Day 5: Olga Kurylenko

Day 5: Olga Kurylenko

At the premiere of The Meyerowitz Stories.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 5: Nicole Kidman

Day 5: Nicole Kidman

At the premiere of How to talk to Girls at Parties.

Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage.

Day 5: Elle Fanning

Day 5: Elle Fanning

At the premiere of How to talk to Girls at Parties.

By George Pimentel/WireImage.

Day 5: Kimberley Garner

Day 5: Kimberley Garner

At the premiere of How to talk to Girls at Parties.

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 5: Jasmine Sanders

Day 5: Jasmine Sanders

Walking around town.

By Venturelli/GC Images.

Day 5: Izabel Goulart

Day 5: Izabel Goulart

Walking around town.

By Jacopo Raule/GC Images.

Day 5: Lottie Moss

Day 5: Lottie Moss

Walking around town.

By Venturelli/GC Images.

Day 4: Nicole Sheridan

Day 4: Nicole Sheridan

At the premiere of The Square.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 4: Elisabeth Moss

Day 4: Elisabeth Moss

At the premiere of The Square.

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 4: Arizona Muse

Day 4: Arizona Muse

At the premiere of 120 Beats Per Minute.

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 4: Ming Xi

Day 4: Ming Xi

At the premiere of 120 Beats Per Minute.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Day 4: Kendall Jenner

Day 4: Kendall Jenner

At the premiere of 120 Beats Per Minute.

By George Pimentel/WireImage.

Day 4: Elizabeth Olsen

Day 4: Elizabeth Olsen

At the photocall for Wind River.

By Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images.

Day 4: Sonia Ben Ammar

Day 4: Sonia Ben Ammar

Walking around town.

By Marc Piasecki/GC Images.

Day 3: Bella Hadid

Day 3: Bella Hadid

At the Chopard SPACE Party.

By Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic.

Day 3: Kendall Jenner

Day 3: Kendall Jenner

At the Chopard SPACE Party.

By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Chopard.

Day 3: Rihanna

Day 3: Rihanna

At the premiere of Okja.

By George Pimentel/WireImage.

Day 3: Lily Collins

Day 3: Lily Collins

Left: At a photocall for Okja; Right: At the premiere of Okja.

Both by Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 3: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Day 3: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

At the premiere of Okja.

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 3: Tilda Swinton

Day 3: Tilda Swinton

At the premiere of Okja.

By Gisela Schober/Getty Images.

Day 3: Julianne Moore

Day 3: Julianne Moore

At the premiere of Okja.

By Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 3: Tallia Storm

Day 3: Tallia Storm

At the premiere of Okja.

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 3: Thylane Blondeau

Day 3: Thylane Blondeau

At the premiere of Okja.

By Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic.

Day 3: Eva Longoria

Day 3: Eva Longoria

Walking around town.

By Marc Piasecki/GC Images.

Day 2: Michelle Williams

Day 2: Michelle Williams

At the Wonderstruck photocall.

By Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic.

Day 2: Elle Fanning

Day 2: Elle Fanning

Walking around town.

By Marc Piasecki/GC Images.

Day 2: Winnie Harlow

Day 2: Winnie Harlow

At the premiere of Loveless (Nelyubov).

By George Pimentel/WireImage.

Day 2: Deepika Padukone

Day 2: Deepika Padukone

At the premiere of Loveless (Nelyubov).

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 2: Lily Donaldson

Day 2: Lily Donaldson

At the premiere of Loveless (Nelyubov).

From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 2: Priscilla Betti

Day 2: Priscilla Betti

At the premiere of Loveless (Nelyubov).

By Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Day 1: Jessica Chastain

Day 1: Jessica Chastain

At the Cannes Jury photocall.

By Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Day 1: Araya Hargate

Day 1: Araya Hargate

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 1: Coco Konig

Day 1: Coco Konig

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Day 1: Naomie Harris

Day 1: Naomie Harris

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 1: Julianne Moore

Day 1: Julianne Moore

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

By Gisela Schober/Getty Images.

Day 1: Elle Fanning

Day 1: Elle Fanning

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

By Dominique Charriau/WireImage.

Day 1: Susan Sarandon

Day 1: Susan Sarandon

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

From Venturelli/WireImage.

Day 1: Robin Wright

Day 1: Robin Wright

At the premiere of Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantomes d’Ismael).

By Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Maybe it had something to do with all the guns. There were soldiers and police officers everywhere along the Croisette, many of them carrying large automatic weapons. Seeing them was a daily reminder that France has been ravaged by terrorist attacks in the last couple years, and that the broader global temper is one fraught with fear and animosity. It’s hard to say if all the security precautions made one feel more safe or less. Mostly, festival-goers just griped about the long lines at metal detectors and bag checks, people simply doing what we so often do, reducing larger, more unwieldy issues down to petty grievances about our own convenience. Perhaps that’s something Michael Haneke was getting at with his competition film Happy End, about a bourgeois family living rather obliviously at the center of a socio- and geopolitical storm.

I can appreciate that messaging, as I can appreciate the heavy allegory of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s beautifully made but deadly somber Russian drama Loveless, which took third prize on Sunday. The problem is, that just wasn’t what I wanted from Cannes this year. I suppose I was naively hoping for films that grappled with our modern world’s ills in ways that were instructive, or hopeful, rather than so dejected, so pessimistic. Bong Joon-ho’s riotous Okja delivered on that front, telling a story of resistance with a spirited, but not delusional, sense of possibility. Beats Per Minute, shattering as it is, provided some of that same uplift, that galvanizing energy too. As did Sean Baker’s excellent Director’s Fortnight entry The Florida Project, another of his close-ups on the fringes of American life, this one following a young girl and her mother living a hardscrabble, hand-to-mouth existence in the outskirts of Orlando. America’s staggering socioeconomic inequity casts a long shadow over The Florida Project (as do the looming mouse ears of Disney), and yet that shadow doesn’t tamp the brightness, the humanity of the lives depicted in Baker’s rollicking, rambling film.

So there was good stuff at Cannes this year, stuff to feel, well, nice about. Juliette Binoche was in a romantic comedy for God’s sake! (Claire Denis’s Director’s Fortnight film Let the Sunshine In, a wordy and exceptionally well-acted delight about a Parisienne looking for love in some of the wrong places.) And I realize it’s silly of me to talk about what I wanted more of, rather than assessing and appreciating what Cannes so generously already offered. But I found myself startlingly out of sync with the festival this year, and realized that I’m perhaps just not as receptive to dark and cold and unrelenting as I used to be pre- . . . all of this. (O.K., fine, I’ll say it: pre-Trump.) Maybe I just saw the wrong movies—I’ve heard great things about Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, as well as Agnès Varda’s Faces Places—or maybe I went in hoping for too much. But that transporting Cannes moment, coming twirling out of the theater feeling lifted, seen, better understood—like after Mommy or Personal Shopper—didn’t really happen this year. Though, I suppose it’s possible that no single movie is capable of doing that for me right now.

I went to Cannes this year seeking comfort and transcendence, but instead many of the films there wanted to drag us down and rattle us even more than we already have been. Which I probably should have been prepared for. Hopefully I can grow a bit more backbone by next year, and can confront a barrage of dark material with a bit more grit and resolve. But I also hope that the films themselves have more to say. For all the technical marvels of Sacred Deer or You Were Never Really Here or the Safdie brothers’ raved-about thriller Good Time, all that style was used in service of stories that were dismayingly small and inward-facing and familiar. (We have seen a variation on You Were Never Really Here’s grizzled-man-saves-imperiled-girl plot a thousand times.) That’s any director’s prerogative, of course; they have no onus to encourage us or Make A Point or do anything beyond make the movie they want to make. But in these times of ours, all this navel-gazing, “things sure are fucked up, huh” shrugging felt rather, well, useless. So, hey, maybe it’s not just me being a wimp who pathetically sought warm words of solace from challenging international art-house films. It’s also that I wish more of this year’s challenging international art-house films had offered some kind of genuine insight, had contended with the world and its problems rather than simply gesturing toward them and wallowing around in the mud. We’re all too aware that the world is a bad and broken place. Perhaps some deliverance would have been nice.

Ah well. At least there was Beats Per Minute, and Okja, and The Florida Project, and the ingenious best-director winner The Beguiled, and 120 or so brilliant minutes of The Square’s 142. And, yeah, I went on a yacht and tried a sip of $3,000 cognac and went to some fabulous parties and all that stuff. It was still Cannes, after all. It was just a Cannes that unfolded in troubled times, which the festival and its films were bound to reflect somehow. It was an off-year, though an off-year at Cannes is still better than an on-year almost anywhere else. I already can’t wait to see what wonders they show us next year—hopefully in happier times.

Full ScreenPhotos:Vanity Fair’s 2017 Cannes Film Festival Portfolio

Salma Hayek, François Pinault

François Henry Pinault’s French luxury company Kering is one of the primary backers of the Cannes Film Festival—which makes the businessman and wife Salma Hayek almost regal fixtures at the festival each year.

Hayek experienced her first Cannes, at age 26, from an entirely different perspective—as a young actress debuting 1995’s Desperado, the Western action film that launched her star in America.

“I was completely new in this business, and I remember when I arrived at the red carpet I’d never seen so many photographers,” said the Mexican-born actress.

These days, Hayek and husband Pinault attend and host parties, including Kering’s lavish Women in Motion dinner—a candlelit award ceremony that honored Isabelle Huppert this year. In 2016, Pinault said the couple managed to find a memorable moment of quiet and solitude during the French Riviera’s frenzied festival.

“Last year, we escaped the madness of the red carpet, and went to have the famous bouillabaisse at Tetou,” said Pinault, “It was a peaceful moment between two lovers and a break.”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop. Hayek wears Yves Saint Laurent and a Boucheron necklace. Pinault wears Gucci.

Tilda Swinton

This year, Tilda Swinton arrived at the Cannes Film Festival to premiere Okja—Bong Joon-ho’s Neflix action-adventure movie—but she had other matters on her mind when the Oscar-winning actress set down on the French Riviera.

“I can’t pretend that I don’t always fantasize about running a jewel heist while here,” Swinton told Vanity Fair conspiratorially, a glint in her eye matching the twinkling yacht lights. “It’s got a lot to do with Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. You just look out at the ocean and fantasize about holding out on one of those boats.”

Four years ago, a band of presumably less-Oscar-decorated actors had a similar idea: “Chopard had a heist a few years ago, they took the whole safe,” Swinton recalled of the robbers, who reportedly ripped an entire safe out of a Novotel hotel room, before making off with the diamond goods. “Such a stylish way to go,” observed Swinton. “It’s the first thing I think about here!”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop. Swinton wears Celine.

Mary Parent, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Alejandro Iñárritu

When Iñárritu’s first feature, Amores Perros, won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes in 2000, it launched him as a force in international cinema. Seventeen years later, with back-to-back Oscars for The Revenant and Birdman under his belt, the Mexican filmmaker has returned to Cannes with a ground-breaking project, the festival’s first ever virtual-reality installation, Carne y Arena.

Made with his longtime cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, and producer Mary Parent, and financed by Legendary Entertainment and the Prada Foundation, Carne y Arena is a six-and-a-half-minute art installation that allows visitors to live the life of a refugee crossing the Mexican-American border.

“We were invited to Cannes… but we were resisting the idea, because Carne y Arena is not cinema,” Iñárritu said. “It’s art, it’s theater, it’s documentary. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it’s something new. It was very difficult, very expensive to come. But it was a great compliment… we belong to a global community of filmmakers here. So we improvised. We decided, let’s go!”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Naomie Harris

There is no better backdrop for luxury brands to showcase than at the Cannes Film Festival. Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Elizabeth Taylor juxtaposed fur and jewels with film and the French Riviera in iconic photographs. And now Naomie Harris, the Oscar-nominated actress and Skyfall’s own Eve Moneypenny, carries on the glamorous tradition of dazzling at Cannes.

Last week, Harris—who is brand ambassador for Atelier Swarovski—swept into the opening ceremony wearing the brand’s new sustainable line of fine jewelry. For someone like Harris, who is attending this year’s festival in her role as ambassador, the red carpet is the main event: “The most memorable moment for me was walking the red carpet—of course, in my Swarovski—and feeling confident, beautiful, and empowered.”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop. Harris wears Delpozo, Rupert Sanderson shoes, Swarovski accessories.

Countess Marina Cicogna

Countess Marina Cicogna is not only the first major female Italian film producer, and one of the most powerful women in European cinema. She is also an expert on European film festivals.

“My family created the Venice Film Festival,” said Cicogna, referring to her grandfather, Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, the businessman and politician who founded the festival in 1932 while working as Venice Biennale director. “Venice is more friendly in a way, but the Venice festival is a bit jealous of Cannes. Once you’re in the Palais you have to admit how really important this festival has become through the years.”

Cicogna produced many movies in the late 60s and early 70s including Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion—the 1970 Italian crime drama from Elio Petri that won both the Cannes festival grand prize and the best foreign-language Oscar. So she’s had success here, Cicogna admits, but never much enjoyment: “It’s become all about the parties, the security, and showing off—so I don’t find it fun.”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Todd Haynes

It’s been almost two decades since Todd Haynes debuted Velvet Goldmine at Cannes—his 70s glam-rock drama dripping in excess. The film won the fest’s prize for best artistic contribution, but Haynes—who has since made sumptuous period dramas Far from Heaven, Carol, and this year’s Wonderstruck—remembers what happened after hours most of all.

“It really was the party to end all parties,” Haynes said of the Velvet Goldmine festival soiree, which was so fittingly lavish for the film that it is forever catalogued “in Cannes lore” by those who attended.

“It was in a chateau in a field, and they literally did projections into the sky of color and light. I was probably super high,” Haynes laughed, “but I still think this really happened . . . It was a lot of drinks, a lot of drugs, a lot of debauchery. It was totally appropriate for the film.”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

The French actress and star of Ismael’s Ghosts has such deep roots at the Cannes Film Festival—her parents Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were some of the coolest regulars on the Croisette in the late 60s and 70s—that Gainsbourg’s first Cannes memory predates her acting debut.

“My mother was premiering a film called La Pirate,” Gainsbourg said, referencing the 1984 lesbian romance starring Birkin. “That film was booed from the very beginning credits . . . It was a traumatic experience.”

Twenty-five years later, when Gainsbourg debuted the controversial Lars Von Trier film Antichrist, she steeled herself for similar feedback.

“I thought [it] would be a horrible screening with people shouting and throwing things,” recalled Gainsbourg, who ended up winning the fest’s best-actress award for her performance. “I was kind of disappointed because it was so calm and respectful and easy.”

Photo: Photograph by Justin Bishop. Gainsbourg wears Saint Laurent.

Salma Hayek, François Pinault

Salma Hayek, François Pinault

François Henry Pinault’s French luxury company Kering is one of the primary backers of the Cannes Film Festival—which makes the businessman and wife Salma Hayek almost regal fixtures at the festival each year.

Hayek experienced her first Cannes, at age 26, from an entirely different perspective—as a young actress debuting 1995’s Desperado, the Western action film that launched her star in America.

“I was completely new in this business, and I remember when I arrived at the red carpet I’d never seen so many photographers,” said the Mexican-born actress.

These days, Hayek and husband Pinault attend and host parties, including Kering’s lavish Women in Motion dinner—a candlelit award ceremony that honored Isabelle Huppert this year. In 2016, Pinault said the couple managed to find a memorable moment of quiet and solitude during the French Riviera’s frenzied festival.

“Last year, we escaped the madness of the red carpet, and went to have the famous bouillabaisse at Tetou,” said Pinault, “It was a peaceful moment between two lovers and a break.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Hayek wears Yves Saint Laurent and a Boucheron necklace. Pinault wears Gucci.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton

This year, Tilda Swinton arrived at the Cannes Film Festival to premiere Okja—Bong Joon-ho’s Neflix action-adventure movie—but she had other matters on her mind when the Oscar-winning actress set down on the French Riviera.

“I can’t pretend that I don’t always fantasize about running a jewel heist while here,” Swinton told Vanity Fair conspiratorially, a glint in her eye matching the twinkling yacht lights. “It’s got a lot to do with Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. You just look out at the ocean and fantasize about holding out on one of those boats.”

Four years ago, a band of presumably less-Oscar-decorated actors had a similar idea: “Chopard had a heist a few years ago, they took the whole safe,” Swinton recalled of the robbers, who reportedly ripped an entire safe out of a Novotel hotel room, before making off with the diamond goods. “Such a stylish way to go,” observed Swinton. “It’s the first thing I think about here!”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Swinton wears Celine.

Mary Parent, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Alejandro Iñárritu

Mary Parent, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Alejandro Iñárritu

When Iñárritu’s first feature, Amores Perros, won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes in 2000, it launched him as a force in international cinema. Seventeen years later, with back-to-back Oscars for The Revenant and Birdman under his belt, the Mexican filmmaker has returned to Cannes with a ground-breaking project, the festival’s first ever virtual-reality installation, Carne y Arena.

Made with his longtime cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, and producer Mary Parent, and financed by Legendary Entertainment and the Prada Foundation, Carne y Arena is a six-and-a-half-minute art installation that allows visitors to live the life of a refugee crossing the Mexican-American border.

“We were invited to Cannes… but we were resisting the idea, because Carne y Arena is not cinema,” Iñárritu said. “It’s art, it’s theater, it’s documentary. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it’s something new. It was very difficult, very expensive to come. But it was a great compliment… we belong to a global community of filmmakers here. So we improvised. We decided, let’s go!”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Naomie Harris

Naomie Harris

There is no better backdrop for luxury brands to showcase than at the Cannes Film Festival. Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Elizabeth Taylor juxtaposed fur and jewels with film and the French Riviera in iconic photographs. And now Naomie Harris, the Oscar-nominated actress and Skyfall’s own Eve Moneypenny, carries on the glamorous tradition of dazzling at Cannes.

Last week, Harris—who is brand ambassador for Atelier Swarovski—swept into the opening ceremony wearing the brand’s new sustainable line of fine jewelry. For someone like Harris, who is attending this year’s festival in her role as ambassador, the red carpet is the main event: “The most memorable moment for me was walking the red carpet—of course, in my Swarovski—and feeling confident, beautiful, and empowered.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Harris wears Delpozo, Rupert Sanderson shoes, Swarovski accessories.

Jean Pigozzi, Brett Ratner

Jean Pigozzi, Brett Ratner

The Cap d’Antibes host with the most is Jean Pigozzi, the photographer, entrepreneur, and only son of SIMCA car company founder Henri Pigozzi. Jean’s well-documented pool party on the first Saturday afternoon of the Cannes Film Festival is famous for having drawn the likes of Naomi Campbell, Bono, and Helmut Newton. Pigozzi even takes in the occasional house guest, including Brett Ratner, the filmmaker who was forbidden from the Hotel du Cap after publishing an infamous essay about what he considered to be his unfair treatment and deplorable room assignment.

“After I was banned from the Hotel Du Cap for life, I moved into Jean’s house during the Cannes Film Festival,” said Ratner of the villa with its wraparound views of the water. “It’s fun to be here during the festival because of his famous party.”

But there are a few house guests who get higher priority over Ratner.

“Unfortunately I don’t get the best room when Mick Jagger’s in residence,” said Ratner. “When Mick’s not here, I get the best room—which is Jean’s mother’s old room—but Mick Jagger or Michael Douglas get the priority.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Elle Fanning

Elle Fanning

One of the very few downsides of coming to the Cannes Film Festival as a teenager is that it conflicts with high-school prom.

“I had to miss my senior prom for the Neon Demon premiere,” Fanning said about her first-ever trip to the French film fest last year. “My best friend and I had always planned on going to our prom together, so he flew out here and we had our prom night in Cannes. He was wearing his tux, and my mom had gotten corsages for us.”

The trip was so memorable, Fanning said, “I was nervous it wasn’t going to live up to how fun it was last year.”

Alas, the actress did not have to worry. She returned to the Croisette to premiere Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and within minutes of reuniting with Coppola and co-star Kirsten Dunst at the famous Carlton hotel, the threesome erupted into peals of laughter and fond set memories from filming the Civil War-era thriller in New Orleans with co-stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

“It was fun, we were all together in this one house,” Fanning said of the cast in New Orleans. “Even though we are not blood-related, we were all supposed to feel like family, so we hung out together, made breakfast in character, had dance lessons and sewing lessons . . . and we did everything in our corsets and things to get used to the costumes.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Spike Lee

Spike Lee

Twenty-eight years ago, Spike Lee stunned Cannes Film Festival audiences with Do the Right Thing—the vibrant masterpiece that depicted simmering racial tensions in Brooklyn and ended with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Nearly three decades later, Lee continues to make art with an urgency to promote social awareness, with the critically acclaimed Netflix special Rodney King, which premiered in April.

At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Lee and his longtime collaborator Roger Guenveur Smith will be honored with a gala and keynote, benefiting Planned Parenthood. And Lee marked the occasion by looking back on his own career, and how it has intersected with this particular fest.

“Thirty years ago I was here with my first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It,” Lee said of his director debut, which was celebrated when it premiered in 1986. “It won the Prix de Jeunesse, so I’ve always enjoyed my visits to this great festival.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Lee wears hand-painted Brittany Campbell.

Ted Sarandos

Ted Sarandos

The biggest controversy at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival did not come courtesy of actors, directors, or critics—but Ted Sarandos, the Netflix chief content officer whose streaming company has two films in competition, Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories. Since the titles were announced, the festival has changed its policy so that, beginning next year, films will require French theatrical releases to be admitted to the prestigious fest. And this year’s competition has been full of spirited debate about whether Netflix (and its streaming competition) are an evil or natural evolution of the old-school cinema experience.

Sarandos’s defense?

“We’re living amid a generation that has seen every great movie ever made on a phone, so I think we all have to come to grips with where technology takes us,” Sarandos told the New York Times this week. “Why would we want to hold back a movie for an enormous number of people to enjoy throughout the entire country that a few hundred, maybe a few thousand people could see the film in Paris? It seemed to me like the right thing to do was to give the people, our subscribers, who pay to make these movies, access to them immediately all over the world.”

Meanwhile, Sarandos has had the experience of a Cannes succcess, and it has left an imprint. “Seeing Dustin Hoffman moved to tears by the standing ovation for him at the premiere for The Meyerowitz Stories was something I will never forget.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Marion Cotillard

Marion Cotillard

The French Oscar winner had the honor of opening this year’s festival with Ismael’s Ghosts, a surreal drama from filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin. Though Netflix is debuting two films at this year’s fest, Cotillard has sided firmly with her country in its decision to ban films without French theatrical releases from screening in competition at the festival in the future.

“The energy that you have in a movie theater when a movie is shared, whether it’s laughter or emotion, is priceless,” said Cotillard. “The movie theater is something important, and it creates this very strong energy that is impossible when you are alone in front of your computer. I’m not sure people will watch those movies together . . . It’s another step in separating people from each other, and I think it’s sad.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Ginevra Elkann

Ginevra Elkann

Italian filmmaker Ginevra Elkann first experienced the Cannes Film Festival as a Miramax intern, working long hours indoors, far away from the moviegoing excitement.

“I never left the office until the last day,” said Elkann, who worked on Bernardo Bertolucci and Anthony Minghella films before producing Noaz Deshe’s White Shadow, which won the Venice Film Festival’s Lion of the Future award in 2013. “This great girl that I was working for took me to the Palais du Festival to see a film. After 10 days of working, working, working, I was finally out in the theater surrounded by the history of the films that have screened there. It was a total dream come true . . . Cannes represents a real moment for this cinema world to come together.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Elkann wears shoes by Prada, clothes by Gucci.

Alex Sharp

Alex Sharp

Though he has already won a Tony Award—for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—English actor Alex Sharp had never been to the Cannes Film Festival before this year. Within hours of landing in France to premiere John Cameron Mitchell’s film How to Talk to Girls at Parties, the actor was in a car with co-star Elle Fanning on his way to Vanity Fair’s Cannes party at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.

“I didn’t know that much about Cannes,” said Sharp. “Elle said it was a really beautiful party, and she has really high standards . . . We got there and immediately saw Adrien Brody, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alejandro González Iñárritu . . . It was like that game where you can have a dinner party and pick your favorite people to attend . . . all of the people I would have picked were at that party.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Sharp wears Billy Reid.

Lily Collins

Lily Collins

Five years after playing Snow White in Mirror, Mirror, actress Lily Collins found herself inside a real-life princess fantasy, at her first ever Cannes Film Festival.

“From the iconic red staircase and bright blue sea to delicious ice cream on the Croisette and hearing sounds of celebration from my balcony, it’s all been utterly unforgettable,” Collins wrote to Vanity Fair about her inaugural French Riviera fest.

The actress walked the Palais red carpet holding hands with co-star Tilda Swinton and debuted her film—Bong Joon-ho’s thought-provoking drama Okja—to critical raves. Gushed Collins, “My first Cannes experience has been a complete sensory overload.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Collins wears Ralph and Russo and Bulgari Jewelry.

Gwendoline Christie, Jane Campion, Elisabeth Moss

Gwendoline Christie, Jane Campion, Elisabeth Moss

Nearly 25 years ago, Jane Campion made Cannes Film Festival history when she became the first—and only—female director to win the Palme d’Or for The Piano. This year, Campion is back to make festival history again, debuting the second season of SundanceTV’s Top of the Lake alongside stars Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie, and Alice Englert.

“We never thought Cannes would come to us,” Campion said about screening a TV series at the film festival, which David Lynch also did this year with Showtime’s Twin Peaks.

“And they may not have five years ago,” said Moss, “but there were many texts with many exclamation points when we heard the news that we were in.”

“This is such a treat to be here and experience this with this festival, and also just to give us a profile as a TV series,” said Campion. “It is such a competitive field out there, we want anything we can get our hands on to rise above the rest.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Christie wears Fendi; Moss wears Jonathan Simkhai.

Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner

Though she came of age in front of reality cameras, Kendall Jenner, at 21, has built an enviable and internationally respected modeling career—a feat all the more impressive considering she had to create an independent identity outside her family’s ubiquitous brand to do so.

Kendall is now a mainstay in Paris, Milan, and New York, leading the pack down runways and endorsing Estée Lauder and Calvin Klein. Her decision to to trade Calabasas for European couture—with a quick pit stop in Cannes—proves there is more to Jenner than what you see through the camera.

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Jenner wears Ronald van der Kemp.

Countess Marina Cicogna

Countess Marina Cicogna

Countess Marina Cicogna is not only the first major female Italian film producer, and one of the most powerful women in European cinema. She is also an expert on European film festivals.

“My family created the Venice Film Festival,” said Cicogna, referring to her grandfather, Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, the businessman and politician who founded the festival in 1932 while working as Venice Biennale director. “Venice is more friendly in a way, but the Venice festival is a bit jealous of Cannes. Once you’re in the Palais you have to admit how really important this festival has become through the years.”

Cicogna produced many movies in the late 60s and early 70s including Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion—the 1970 Italian crime drama from Elio Petri that won both the Cannes festival grand prize and the best foreign-language Oscar. So she’s had success here, Cicogna admits, but never much enjoyment: “It’s become all about the parties, the security, and showing off—so I don’t find it fun.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Todd Haynes

Todd Haynes

It’s been almost two decades since Todd Haynes debuted Velvet Goldmine at Cannes—his 70s glam-rock drama dripping in excess. The film won the fest’s prize for best artistic contribution, but Haynes—who has since made sumptuous period dramas Far from Heaven, Carol, and this year’s Wonderstruck—remembers what happened after hours most of all.

“It really was the party to end all parties,” Haynes said of the Velvet Goldmine festival soiree, which was so fittingly lavish for the film that it is forever catalogued “in Cannes lore” by those who attended.

“It was in a chateau in a field, and they literally did projections into the sky of color and light. I was probably super high,” Haynes laughed, “but I still think this really happened . . . It was a lot of drinks, a lot of drugs, a lot of debauchery. It was totally appropriate for the film.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg

The French actress and star of Ismael’s Ghosts has such deep roots at the Cannes Film Festival—her parents Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were some of the coolest regulars on the Croisette in the late 60s and 70s—that Gainsbourg’s first Cannes memory predates her acting debut.

“My mother was premiering a film called La Pirate,” Gainsbourg said, referencing the 1984 lesbian romance starring Birkin. “That film was booed from the very beginning credits . . . It was a traumatic experience.”

Twenty-five years later, when Gainsbourg debuted the controversial Lars Von Trier film Antichrist, she steeled herself for similar feedback.

“I thought [it] would be a horrible screening with people shouting and throwing things,” recalled Gainsbourg, who ended up winning the fest’s best-actress award for her performance. “I was kind of disappointed because it was so calm and respectful and easy.”

Photograph by Justin Bishop. Gainsbourg wears Saint Laurent.



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