Brasserie Le Casanova, a restaurant a few steps from the Palais in Cannes, was filling the international crowd that was settling in for their dinner on Wednesday night when a thunderous roar resounded over the Croisette. The ground began to shake and the sky filled with orange smoke. Many diners gasped and some – including industry guests from Ukraine – bent over their tables. A handful of people in the bewildered crowd thought they were being bombed or terrorized.
But in reality, the roar was from a French fighter jet flying over nearby Top gun: Maverick premiere, promoting Tom Cruise’s film to everyone in sight, whether or not they had tickets to the theater that night.
The Maverick the flyover moment is either an amusing display of engineering and a welcome moment out of these dreary homeland pandemic years, or a terrifying, emotionless stunt for the victims of life. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is about 1,200 miles away.
Much of Cannes has so far been ushered in this polarizing way, with gowns, yachts and pastel pinks – things that can feel decadent and out of place at the best of times – a contrast. The reaction was even more jarring than usual compared to the world outside the French Riviera.
If you’re drinking and laughing at the beach gatherings at Cannes this year, are you flipping your wings at Vladimir Putin and COVID, or are you just Sally Bowles in Barinsisting on keeping the party going even as the sound of boots outside the Kit Kat Club grows louder?
At times, the real world has entered Cannes’ bubble in dramatic fashion, like when a protester breaks Premiere “Three Thousand Years of Desire” Friday night, she was almost topless to reveal the colors of the Ukrainian flag and the words “Stop Raping Us” painted on her chest. In one of Cannes’ one-of-a-kind moments, as security was pulling protesters off the red carpet and onto the beach at the glittering Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, stars like Alicia Vikander and her husband Cannes jury Noomi Rapace was present. dinner at an elegant banquet hosted by Louis Vuitton and Vanity Fair.
The film festival acknowledged the war in a number of direct ways, most notably when Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared via a live video call from Kyiv during the opening ceremony, speaking to the filmmakers’ room and press that: “Cinema must not be silent”. Forest Whitaker, who received the honorary Palme d’Or that night, seemed to understand he was speaking to a shell-shocked audience, however it could have looked glamorous in a black tie. “For years, we’ll deal with the trauma of what happened to us,” Whitaker said, citing the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the social justice protests of the past two years. .
Russian dissident director Kirill Serebrennikov used the press conference for his contest film, Tchaikovsky’s wife, as an opportunity to call for the lifting of sanctions on Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who has financed his art house films. “These are not propaganda films,” Serebrennikov said of the films Abramovich has sponsored. “Completely opposite. Boycotting Russian culture strikes me as intolerable because Russian culture always upholds human values.”
On Thursday, the festival premiered Mariupolis 2a documentary film directed by Mantas Kvedaravicius, who was killed in Ukraine in early April while making a sequel to his 2016 documentary about the lives of people in Mariupol as the threat of war with Russia escalates.
Saturday is Ukraine Day in Marché, with a conference discussing reconstruction opportunities for industry there. Phiphen Pictures producer Molly Conners, who prepared to shoot the film, said: “I wanted to bring as many films to Ukraine as possible. Karski, a biographical film about a Polish resistance fighter during World War II, in Kyiv before both the pandemic and the war intervened. “I love the filmmakers there – it’s a great place to work.”
For those trying to do business with their Ukrainian colleagues at the festival, navigating the impact of war requires a delicate balance. At the meetings, Conners said, “They said, ‘I want to talk to you about film and music, but we have to live before and through this war. And then we rebuild the ‘. “