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Cannes Film Fest Is Back, With a Big First

Spike Lee will be first Black person to head jury for the festival, starting Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 5, 2021 9:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – For the past 16 months, the Palais des Festivals, the central hub of the Cannes Film Festival, has been lined with hospital beds and even turned into a mass-vaccination site after the film fest was postponed last year, then canceled due to the pandemic. On Tuesday, the film fest, delayed from its usual May spot to July, will finally open its doors for its 74th and maybe most critical edition, reports the AP. Twenty-four films will vie for the Palme d'Or, to be decided by a jury headed by Spike Lee, the first Black person to ever hold that position. Some of the entries were shot back in 2019, others were products of the pandemic. Cannes will be the first major film festival to attempt an essentially full edition, with no virtual component and no empty seats between (masked) festivalgoers. Attendees are required to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 every 48 hours. Meanwhile, many from abroad won't be able to attend due to travel restrictions.

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This year, after much of the movie world went into hibernation, Cannes' greatest duty may be jolting moviegoing awake. Announcing the lineup last month, Cannes artistic chief Thierry Fremaux declared: "Cinema is not dead." "It's a kind of pilgrimage or mecca, and even more so this year," says Mark Cousins, the Scotland-based filmmaker whose The Story of Film: a New Generation will premiere opening day. This year's lineup includes many of the most acclaimed filmmakers in the world, many of whom are Cannes regulars. Among them: Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch), Asghar Farhadi (A Hero), Paul Verhoeven (Benedetta), Jacques Audiard (Paris, 13th District), Bruno Dumont (Par un Demi Clair Matin), and Sean Penn (Flag Day). One thing you won't see in Cannes: any Netflix movies. The festival, which requires films in competition to have a French theatrical release, and streamer are still at odds.

(Read more Cannes Film Festival stories.)

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