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Cannes Film Festival 2022, before the opening, the final preparations and the first hiccups

The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will open on Tuesday evening, with “Cut!” by Michael Hazanavicius. An anniversary edition which should begin under a big blue sky and with bursts of laughter – “Cut!” is as funny as it is successful – but already a few dark clouds are threatening the ambient good mood. You know the susceptibility of Cannes journalists. Let’s move quickly on the problems of online ticketing, which would have been hacked according to Thierry Frémaux, the Festival’s general delegate, on the delays of the TGVs this Monday – between the duration of a film of Quentin Dupieux and that of a film by Lav Diaz, depending on the luck of the passengers -, or even on the micmac around a “censored” interview of which we did not fully understand what prevented its publication as such. No, the real subject of discussion which should come up morning, noon and evening, in the gazettes and on the Croisette, is the spectacular drop in attendance observed in dark rooms. For a long time, France resisted the disaffection of a public nourished by the series. But since the Covid and its multiple rules – with or without a mask, with or without popcorn -, it’s as if a whole section of the most assiduous moviegoers had decided to desert the room to stay at home and discover the wonders on offer. by the most advanced platforms.

Novelty is no longer popular

Because yes, if Netflix, Disney + or other Prime Video offer a buffet of more or less good quality to all (TV) viewers around the world, the gourmet also has an increasingly substantial choice: Mubi, LaCinetek , UniversCiné, the efforts of FranceTV or Arte, MK2 Curiosity, Henri… These initiatives that we cherished so much during the confinements may have had a perverse effect that we had neglected: moving away from the sacrosanct novelty to favor heritage and rarity. Do you have to run to a multiplex to discover a 2022 auteur film of uncertain quality, when Mubi offers quality unreleased films, LaCinetek masterpieces of the seventh art recommended by filmmakers and which can be discovered on the sites of France Télévisions and Arte free and often remarkable auteur films? Is the collective experience of the room still worth it when it is almost empty, the air conditioning is too strong and you have to pay the equivalent of a month’s subscription in one go? The economic dilemma is obvious and if piracy is a scourge that has killed the second market (that of DVD and VoD), not all moviegoers are fences. You can in 2022 and for a reasonable sum, legally gorge yourself on excellent films every month. It is no coincidence that the successes of this spring are mainly due to the famous word of mouth, if the general public needs to be advised to have the assurance of discovering great cinema. More than ever, the key is curation.

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It was the producer of “Onoda” Nicolas Anthomé who mentioned the subject on Twitter. What is French cinema waiting for to communicate? To make you want to go back to the theater? To offer a new experience to spectators? Impossible to compete with the great spectacle of the Marvel films, of “Top Gun: Maverick” or the next “Avatar”. These films – and so much the better for theaters – will be a hit in the coming months with young people in need of thrills. But there is something to dig on the side of the event and it is precisely there that the Cannes Film Festival must participate in the war effort. Why not offer screenings in all the cities of France, at the same time as the festival, at least films from the Un Certain Regard section? To finally allow a public vote? To put forward a young jury for a Palme de la jeunesse as there is now the César for high school students? The challenges that await Iris Knobloch are considerable, but above all we must not believe that Pierre Lescure has failed as president of the holy institution. Once again this year, Cannes will welcome the whole world in the best possible conditions and will be the essential showcase for auteur cinema. But its margin over other festivals and especially over other cultural events is shrinking. The competition is not only the Venice Film Festival or the Berlin, Toronto or Sundance Festival, but also with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas or the Coachella Festival. Available brain time isn’t infinitely expandable in the hour of entertainment-king, and we’ve seen more screenshots of the Elden Ring video game than of ‘The Northman’ on social media. So let’s dream of a Palme d’Or that appeals to both Léna Situations (who is a cinephile, it seems, Ed.) and Michel Ciment (who is also a cinephile, Ed.). Good luck to Vincent Lindon and his jury for finding the rare bird… or the “Parasite” of 2022.

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