Funny edition! Injured but standing, with a shocking record. We hardly expected such a final detonation, at the end of the week, with this Palme d’Or at Titanium, of the intrepid Frenchwoman Julia Ducournau. Spike Lee, the president of the jury had sold, from the start of the closing ceremony, the wick by revealing the name of the grand prize winner. He was very sorry for it afterwards. Rather funny, his blunder, in fact!

This 7 4e Cannes edition will have made history on many levels. Second Palme d’Or awarded to a woman (after The piano lesson by Jane Campion in 1993) and arguably his most daring. Because festival-goers fell ill after the screening of this Titanium powerful, bloody, symbol of all the wild impulses released. Many media were crying scandal. These murders, this madness! Yes, but this punch, this breakthrough out of the nails! The monsters had taken the festival by storm. Women too. Ditto for young people with these interpretation prizes for rising generations. No unanimity of the jurors. Confrontations between them, alliance games. Sport ! Passion!

Several deserving people will have slipped into this list, including Memory, of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, A hero, d’Asghar Farhadi, Drive My Car, de Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Compartment nO 6, de Juho Kuosmanen, Annette, by Leos Carax, and Ahed’s knee, by Nadav Lapid. Strong, sometimes radical proposals, celebrating diversity, on the form side, on the substance side.

All this in the midst of a pandemic vintage weighed down by the health crisis: masked festival-goers, anti-COVID tests every two days for foreigners outside the bosom of the European Community, shortened or non-existent holidays, a ticketing system that initially gave us headaches, an atmosphere rubbing off on the opinions of critics. No one agreed on the value of films. La Palme at Titanium made some bitch. Wrongly! We will talk about this for a long time!

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The directors of the Festival have finally done well to hang on by moving their meeting from spring to summer. Even the predicted heatwave spared us.

One thing is certain: a second year without the Cannes Film Festival could have seriously shaken the columns of his temple. Especially since the Venice Film Festival, great rival in the fall, had managed to hold its meeting in 2020 between two pandemic waves and returns in September. Several distributors see the Serenissima festival, moreover better stuck to the pre-Oscar season, as the new rock on which to deposit their films. Netflix and its rivals are also eating away at the big screen market share. It’s the red alert!

The challenges of the future

The glamor and the cinephilia of Cannes, two contradictory and triumphant vocations here, are they as soluble as yesterday in our modernities? After all, anyone can become a Facebook star, without having to dream of official red carpet stars. As for the culture of banishment, an important lever of social development, it risks stifling the memory of cinema, defended on the Croisette. Themes will be less discussed, some literary works could be deemed unsuitable under the wind of the day. All this put in the balance, at what trough will the great festivals of the future eat?

Still, changes in mentality cannot be denounced as mere obstacles to dancing in circles. Here, at the selection, women are now better considered, as are minorities (Spike Lee was the first president of the black jury of the place). Cultural events do not live in a bubble away from the upheavals of the planet. In fact, Cannes had taken an ecological turn this year; less paper, less waste. So much the better!

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One of the challenges of this festival, in addition to maintaining its own supremacy, was to attract the public indoors, by ripple effect, after the parenthesis of confinement. Still, in France, for the time being, it is mainly the proposals with strong commercial potential (Annette, The French Dispatch, by Wes Anderson, and now Titanium) who take advantage of Cannes’ aura on the big screen. Works with more diffuse codes could lose more players. The health passport or negative tests required soon to enter French cinemas will hurt operators. We understand President Macron to force his people to protect themselves against the virus, but many people are paying for the unvaccinated. No, the COVID-19 effect has not finished undermining the landscape of cinema and the entire spectacle. If the new measures have spared Cannes in the calendar of health constraints, the Festival d’Avignon sees its theatrical meeting hit hard.

Covering a major international artistic event makes it possible to take the pulse of social changes, through the themes of the works, so distressed, also through the conditions of access to the rooms all turned upside down. For now, the cultural roots remain deep in France, but how fast everything changes! Swords of Damocles hung over our heads over there. It shook us. We also saw with joy the rising youth.

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