Cannes Film Festival Still Has Star Power—You Just Have to Look for It

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Cannes Film Festival was known for its extravagant movie marketing stunts: A convertible-riding Sean Connery driving down La Croisette in 1964; Jerry Seinfeld zip lining down a 126 meter wire OVER La Croisette to the beach pier below for the press; Disney staging a snowball fight—with real snow--to promote Jim Carrey’s A Christmas Carol in 2009.

This year, the marketing was more traditional and lower key as smaller-budget independent films took their place on the Red Carpet. The most talked about (and big budgeted) movies, the Elton John biopic Rocketman, screened out of competition not eligible for awards while the film with the most star power going into the final weekend, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Leo DeCaprio and Brad Pitt, got a seven-minute standing ovation at its premiere and is expected to be a box office hit.

But Netflix and Disney were nowhere to be seen in Cannes in 2019, and the Moet lounge was replaced this year by a Nespresso coffee bar.  Brands and billionaires played a lesser role, said the Hollywood Reporter, as “this year’s Cannes looks to be a muted one.”

This year’s Cannes also responded to last year’s Time’s Up women’s march on the Palais steps led by then-Cannes jury president Cate Blanchett and the late Agnès Varda, who, by the way, was featured on this year’s poster. Two days later, Cannes Director Thierry Frémaux signed a gender parity pledge of 50/50 equal representation by the year 2020. This year, for the first time, Cannes shared demographic data about its submissions, 26 percent of which came from female directors, while 19 percent of the competition films are directed by women. 

While Film Cincinnati didn’t have a Cincinnati-made movie premiering at Cannes this year (following Gotti last year and The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Carol before that), there was a Cincinnati connection as Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of Sacred Deer, served on the Feature Film Jury. (Sacred Deer tied for Best Screenplay at the 2017 Cannes festival)

Yes, stars were sprinkled throughout this year’s festival with Sylvester Stallone (and clips from the new Rambo V) closing out the last weekend. But with models and would-be starlets outnumbering Hollywood favorites, Cannes needs to return to the star power of Hollywood to continue to be a must-attend stop on the film festival circuit.

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