The Cannes film festival is the world's biggest (even dethroning the Oscars, some would say) celebration of cinema, held every year in May at Cannes, a picture-perfect city located on the French Riviera. The 71st edition of the Festival de Cannes (May 8-19) will once again witness an impressive lineup of films from across genres and countries. Dozens of films will be screened as part of the competition, not to mention Out of Competition films like the upcoming Star Wars movie 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'.
C for cinema, C for Cannes? Nope, Besides all the films and the film stars and the models, the Cannes film festival is also synonymous for its glamorous parties and haute couture. And not to forget, dazzling red carpet appearances, a much-awaited (and much-criticised, by stodgy film buffs) visual spectacle. Designer brands Dior and Chopard spend millions of dollars on five-star hotel suites along the Mediterranean seafront dressing their celebrity ambassadors for their few moments of fame on the red carpet. Cannes is also the paradise for film distribution where films which otherwise would not have had anyone taking notice gets its market.
Here’s all you need to know about what the Cannes Film Festival:
HOW TO SAY CANNES
From 'Cah-nes' to 'Kah-nes', the word is pronounced differently. If you're a snooty film critic, then go ahead with the correct one: Kan (the 's' is silent).
HOW DID IT START
Under pressure from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the jury members at the Venice Film Festival changed the award winners a few hours before announcing the official results in favour of a Nazi propaganda documentary. Outraged French diplomat and historian, Philippe Erlanger, thought about organising a free festival, and this idea received approval from Jean Zay, the then French Ministry of Education. The International Film Festival opened in Cannes on 1 September 1939, at the same time as the Venice Film Festival.
WHO IS IN THE JURY THIS YEAR
In a year rocked by the #MeToo movement, the jury of the Cannes film festival is both majority female and led by a woman for the first time. Cate Blanchett, Chang Chen, Kristen Stewart, Khadja Nin, Ava DuVernay, Robert Guediguian, Lea Seydoux, Denis Villeneuve and Andrei Zvyagintsev are the nine jury members this year.
WHAT ARE THE FILMS IN THE RUNNING THIS YEAR
These are the selected films from the two major categories. Besides this, there are midnight screenings, out of competition films and more.
Everybody Knows (dir: Asghar Farhadi) – opening film
At War (dir: Stéphane Brizé)
The Wild Pear Tree (dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Ayka (dir: Sergei Dvortsevoy)
Dogman (dir: Matteo Garrone)
Le Livre d’Image (dir: Jean-Luc Godard)
Knife + Heart (dir: Yann Gonzalez)
Asako I & II (dir: Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
Sorry Angel (dir: Christophe Honoré)
Girls of the Sun (dir: Eva Husson)
Ash Is Purest White (dir: Jia Zhang-Ke)
Shoplifters (dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Capernaum (dir: Nadine Labaki)
Burning (dir: Lee Chang-Dong)
BlacKkKlansman (dir: Spike Lee)
Under the Silver Lake (dir: David Robert Mitchell)
Three Faces (dir: Jafar Panahi)
Cold War (dir: Pawel Pawlikowski)
Lazzaro Felice (dir: Alice Rohrwacher)
Yomeddine (dir: AB Shawky)
Leto (L’Été) (dir: Kirill Serebrennikov)
Un Certain Regard
Donbass (dir: Sergei Loznitsa) – opening film
Angel Face (dir: Vanessa Filho)
Border (dir: Ali Abbasi)
The Dead and the Others (dir: João Salaviza & Renée Nader Messora)
El Angel (dir: Luis Ortega)
Euphoria (dir: Valeria Golino)
Friend (dir: Wanuri Kahiu)
The Gentle Indifference of the World (dir: Adilkhan Yerzhanov)
Girl (dir: Lukas Dhont)
The Harvesters (dir: Etienne Kallos)
In My Room (dir: Ulrich Köhler)
Little Tickles (dirs: Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer)
Muere, Monstruo, Muere (dir: Alejandro Fadel)
My Favorite Fabric (dir: Gaya Jiji)
On Your Knees, Guys (Sextape) (dir: Antoine Desrosières)
Sofia (dir: Meyem Benm’Barek)
WHICH BOLLYWOOD STAR IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A RED CARPET APPEARANCE
Cannes red carpet regulars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone will be heading to Cannes to add glamour at the red carpet. Aishwarya will be completing 17 years at the red carpet and will be attending the festival on May 12 and May 13. Deepika will be walking the red carpet for the second time on May 10 and May 11. Sonam will be completing eight years at Cannes and will attend the festival on May 14 and May 15.
WHY IS IT MORE POLITICAL THIS YEAR
The most political Cannes film festival in years opens Tuesday with female stars vowing to protest on the red carpet, two top directors barred from attending and bans hanging over other movies.
With the industry still reeling from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and Cannes under fire for its dearth of women directors, Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart are likely to join actresses and women directors Saturday in a protest in support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.
But with no less than a dozen films with LGBT themes, and others tackling child abuse, male prostitution and an eye-watering DIY sex change, it has all the makings of a vintage year for scandal and controversy.
In a year dominated by the #MeToo movement, the Cannes film festival (the first one without Harvey Weinstein, a regualr) is feeling the heat to address glaring gender imbalances in the competition for its top prize, the Palme d'Or. Of the 268 filmmakers who have claimed one of Cannes' top three prizes, only 11 -- or four percent -- have been women, an analysis by AFP shows. New Zealand's Jane Campion remains the only female director to have received the highest accolade, the Palme d'Or, awarded for her masterpiece "The Piano Lesson" in 1993.
This year's selections, including three female directors among the 21 Palme contenders, have done little to quell pleas for more female storytellers at the world's most prestigious film festival. Questions of gender equality are especially pointed at Cannes, which for the last 20 years had been a seaside playground for Harvey Weinstein, long one of the festival's most ubiquitous operators. Some say the the move to have a female majority jury, headed by Cate Blanchett, an outspoken member of the Time's Up movement, is merely a pacification attempt.
Online streaming giant Netflix withdrew five films in the running for the world's top festival after Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux had announced a ban on films from the main competition which do not have a proper theatrical release in France. A film in France can be streamed online only three years after its theatrical release. Last year, cinema owners protested at the inclusion of two of Netflix's films, "Okja" and "The Meyerowitz Stories".
"Netflix are cinephiles, people of taste who love cinema, and who have made possible what was never done before," Fremaux told French radio. "Again last night I wrote to my friends at Netflix so that we might find a solution. They find our love for (watching films in) cinemas hard to understand," he added.
DIRECTORS IN CONFLICT WITH LAW
A Paris court will weigh whether the festival can legally show Monty Python star Terry Gilliam's long-awaited film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" or not. Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, who initially worked with Gilliam on the film, claimed he has the rights to the movie and sued Cannes organizers to stop them from showing it. Gilliam, 77, contested Branco's claims. Judges in Paris will decide Wednesday whether the film, which Gilliam has laboured on for nearly two decades, can be shown.
The first Kenyan movie to be selected for the world's top festival has already been banned in its homeland for daring to depict a lesbian romance. The Kenya Film Classification Board has banned the film 'Rafiki' which depicts a love story between two women, accusing it of having "clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law."
Despite a plea by US director Oliver Stone, Tehran has refused to lift a travel ban on Iranian master Jafar Panahi, whose "Three Faces" is in the running for the top Palme d'Or prize. The dissident director made it clandestinely after being banned from making films for 20 years for his activism after the "stolen election" of 2009.
Appeals to bail Russia's Kirill Serebrennikov, under house arrest in Moscow on embezzlement charges his supporters claim are political, have also fallen on deaf ears. His film 'Leto' tells the story of Soviet-Korean rock legend Viktor Tsoi, whose songs are seen in Russia as anthems of the late 1980s Perestroika era.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux told reporters Monday that it was ironic that both Iran and Russia should be "punishing the directors when neither film is political".
WHAT ARE THE NEW FESTIVAL RULES
Cannes, a feverish pageant of celebrity and cinema, is trying to both rigorously guard tradition and adapt to fast-changing times. The festival this year even altered its sacred schedule to eliminate morning press screenings ahead of premieres — a strategic switch intended to blunt the effect of press-corps boos marring film premieres, a practice that had emerged as a kind of blood sport at Cannes.
Freumax said the festival would improve the male-to-female ratios of its selection committees, name more women as jury president and, in the future, select more films directed by women.
Selfies on the red carpet have been banned too.
(With inputs from agencies)