A-list actors, studio executives and celebrity-watchers descended on the Cannes Film Festival on opening night to see Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows,” a thriller starring Oscar-winning couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Typically the kickoff is a spirited occasion, but it’s the festival-imposed ban on selfies that seemed to keep the party outside the Palais slightly more subdued.
There were plenty of opportunities for the assembled masses to star-gaze. Not only were Cruz and Bardem on hand, but Benicio Del Toro (roguish in a white tux), Julianne Moore (a vision in a red frock) and Isabelle Adjani (rocking floral chiffon) also walked the red carpet. Martin Scorsese navigated the sea of photographers to take in the film, noting that it was the 50th anniversary of the Cannes premiere of “Mean Streets,” the crime drama that put him on the map.
Perhaps the biggest injection of star power came from the arrival of the jury. It’s a group that includes Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay, “Arrival” director Denis Villeneuve, “Spectre” actress Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.
Cannes’ hierarchy made waves by outlawing self-snapping on the red carpet. Envelopes containing tickets to opening night contained this warning: “No selfies and pictures on the red carpet. Thank you. Offenders will be denied entrance to the screenings.”
Handlers were vigorously enforcing the new ban. In the past, scores of black tie-clad and gown-wearing guests have stopped at the foot of the steps of the cavernous main cinema, phones aloft, trying to capture the perfect snapshot. It’s also resulted in foot-traffic congestion, slowing entrances into screenings and premieres. Based on an unscientific scan of the crowd, there were fewer camera-waving festival-goers on the carpet itself. However, stars such as Del Toro were asked to pose for selfies with the fans who line security fences outside the theater.
Security is also expected to be tighter. As France is still under a higher risk level from terrorism, Cannes Film Festival and local authorities maintained the beefed-up police presence that was launched last year. The tightened security plan includes an anti-drone system, restricted airspace above the Cannes airport, upgraded firearms for officers and plainclothes security personnel inside and around the Palais. The festival has also set up stricter access for vehicles driving stars to the Palais, who must apply for a permit. Each driver entering the perimeter around the Palais has been given a background check by local authorities.
The festival has also faced criticism about its lack of female filmmakers. Only three of the movies in competition are made by women directors. However, Moore decided to accentuate the positive, noting that the Blanchett-led jury is majority female.
“Things are changing, this year the jury is predominantly made of women and that’s why it’s a wonderful year,” said Moore.
Blanchett said she would embrace a democratic approach to deciding which film will take home the Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest honor.
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