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Cannes kicks off with Greta Gerwig’s jury and a Palme d’Or for Meryl Streep

By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
Published: May 14, 2024, 8:44am
3 Photos
Jury president Greta Gerwig poses for photographers during the jury photo call at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
Jury president Greta Gerwig poses for photographers during the jury photo call at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Photo by Andreea Alexandru/Invision/AP) Photo Gallery

CANNES, France (AP) — The Cannes Film Festival opened Tuesday with the unveiling of Greta Gerwig’s jury and the presentation of an honorary Palme d’Or for Meryl Streep, as the French Riviera spectacular kicked off a potentially volatile 77th edition.

A 10-day stream of stars will soon begin flowing down Cannes’ famous red carpet beginning with the opening night film, “The Second Act,” a French comedy starring Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard. During the opening ceremony, Streep will be given her honorary Palme.

In the days to come, Cannes will premiere George Miller’s “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed “Megalopolis” and anticipated new movies from Paolo Sorrentino, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrea Arnold and Kevin Costner.

But much of the drama surrounding this year’s Cannes has been off screen.

After French actor Judith Godrèche earlier this year accused two film directors of rape and sexual abuse when she was a teenager, the French film industry has been dealing with arguably its defining #MeToo moment. On Wednesday, Godrèche will premiere her short “Moi Aussi.”

Asked about #MeToo expanding in France, Gerwig told reporters in Cannes on Tuesday that it’s progress.

“I think people in the community of movies telling us stories and trying to change things for the better is only good,” Gerwig said. “I have seen substantive change in the American film community, and I think it’s important that we continue to expand that conversation. So I think it’s only moving everything in the correct direction. Keep those lines of communication open.”

Gerwig, coming off the success of “Barbie,” is president of the jury that will decide Cannes’ top award, the Palme d’Or. Thierry Fremaux on Monday praised her as “the ideal director” for Cannes, given her ability to work across arthouse and studio film and her interest in cinema history. And, Fremaux said, “We very much liked ‘Barbie.’”

Joining Gerwig on the jury is Lily Gladstone, star of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” French actor Eva Green, Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona, French actor Omar Sy, Lebanese actor and director Nadine Labaki, Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, Turkish screenwriter Ebru Ceylan and Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino.

“I thought I just got over my imposter syndrome last year,” said the Oscar-nominated Gladstone. “But I’ll start all over again.”

The jurors were asked how the many real-world concerns outside the festival might affect their deliberations. One film in competition, Ali Abbasi’s “The Apprentice,” stars Sebastian Stan as a young Donald Trump. And Labaki was asked if the war in Gaza might be on her mind.

“I truly believe that one of the tools to really change something in the situation we all live in right now, which is a situation I think is not that great, is really through art and through cinema,” said Labaki. “It may propose a more tolerant way of seeing things and seeing each other as human beings.”

Filmmakers, Favino said, play the important role of reminding the world of where it can find beauty.

“This is why I decided that I could be here without feeling guilty as a human being,” said Favino. “Because if we look for beauty, then we might look for peace.”

Other concerns are also swirling around this year’s Cannes. Festival workers, fed up with short-term contracts that leave them unqualified for unemployment benefits in between festivals, have threatened to strike.

On Monday, the Iranian filmmaker Mohammed Rasoulof, whose film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” is premiering next week in competition in Cannes, said he had fled Iran after being sentenced to eight years in prison and flogging. The film is said to be a critical depiction of the Iranian regime.

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As Cannes continues, though, many will be focused on the stars parading the festival’s famous red carpet. They’ll include Emma Stone, Anya Taylor-Joy, Demi Moore, Selena Gomez, Nicolas Cage and Barry Keoghan. At the closing ceremony on May 25, George Lucas is to receive an honorary Palme d’Or.

Regardless, the 77th Cannes will have a lot to live up to. Last year’s festival, widely celebrated for its robust lineup, produced three Oscar best picture nominees: “Anatomy of a Fall,” “The Zone of Interest” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” To help rekindle last year’s spirit, Messi, the canine star of “Anatomy of a Fall,” is back in Cannes for a series of brief French TV spots.

A good Cannes will help France keep the global spotlight through the summer. The festival will be followed by the French Open, the Tour de France and the summer Olympics in Paris. On May 21 in Cannes, the Olympic flame will be carried up the steps to the festival’s hub, the Palais des Festivals.

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