Arriving early, anywhere, is winning. Sort of. On Monday my train, the first one out of Paris that morning, was held for four hours in Saint-Raphael, about fifteen miles from Cannes, after an electrical outage wreaked havoc at our destination. Four hours later, the train started finally moving. The same fate awaited my colleagues who took a later train out of the French capital, their train was stopped in Saint Raphael, too, except that everyone was asked to get off and figure out their own means of transportation from here on out.
This year for the 75th Cannes Festival, my sixteenth, a screening room was rechristened after Agnes Varda, Pierre Lescure is calling it quits and he’ll be replaced in 2023 as festival president by Iris Knobloch (featured image), 59, a lawyer and a former Warner Europe executive who sits on the boards of Accor and Lazard (formerly Lazard Frères).
The festival is in a state of flux—as media we’ve seen some changes being rolled out internally, from the new ticketing system to the branded press bags and festival catalog being canceled—because the film world is in rapid evolution mode. Streaming platforms are duking it out and exhibitors, people who own movie theaters, and festivals like Cannes behind them, are making sure they are not getting left behind as audiences are looking for convenience and more bang for their buck.
While waiting in Saint Raphael on our train to nowhere, I struck up a discussion with Clothilde, a young exhibitor who helps runs an arthouse theater just outside Paris. We have a public that’s devoted to us, she told me, but with the covid pandemic habits changed, people don’t come easily to the movie theater like they used to. Is it the Netflix effect, I asked? This was a factor, too, evidently, she explained.
And how does a festival like Cannes contend with this? And what impact will Knobloch have on it? TBA. For now, the festival must go on and filmmakers like Ruben Östlund, Michael Hazanavicius, James Gray and Cristian Mungiu, to name a few, will be presenting their films in Cannes this year. There’s also a movie by Jerzy (pronounced “ya-shee”) Skolimowski (yes, that Skolimowski) shown through the eyes of a donkey who begins life in a Polish circus but ends up in an Italian slaughterhouse.