CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival threw a star-studded celebration Tuesday for its 70th anniversary, drawing mobs of celebrities and a dozen former Palme d’Or winners to commemorate the illustrious French Riviera festival’s birthday.
Big names from across cinema streamed down the Cannes red carpet Tuesday night for a ceremony that recounted the festival’s history through a series of clip reels and with moments of tribute to the victims of Monday’s explosion at a concert in Manchester, England.
The festivities began earlier in the day, when the festival gathered more than 100 current and former Cannes participants for a “Cannes family portrait.”
Among the many in attendance were Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Jessica Chastain. Filmmakers Guillermo del Toro, George Miller, Alejandro Inarritu and many more were also there.
But the most honoured guests were the former Palme d’Or winners, several of whom have films at this year’s festival.
On hand were Roman Polanski, David Lynch, Jane Campion, Ken Loach, Bernardo Bertolucci, Michael Haneke and others. They were seated in the front row for the collective photo and were the last to walk the Cannes red carpet Tuesday night.
Isabelle Huppert opened the ceremony by singing happy birthday to the festival. She then tweaked the festival’s questionable record of gender equality.
“Seventy years of Cannes, 76 Palme d’Or (winners), only one of them has gone to a woman. No comment,” Huppert said. Champion is the lone female filmmaker to win the Palme d’Or, though actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux shared in the win for Blue is the Warmest Color.
Huppert also called on American filmmakers to bring Gene Hackman out of retirement “any way necessary — even Netflix!” She then admonished: “Don’t tweet that!”
Some of the celebration was curtailed following the Manchester bombing at an Ariana Grande concert.
Fireworks planned for later in the evening were scuttled. Cannes President Pierre Lescure said during the ceremony: “Cinema is with Manchester.”
The festival earlier in the day held a moment of silence on the red-carpeted steps of the Palais, the Cannes hub.
But Manchester was present throughout the evening’s celebrations. One poignant clip reel that played Tuesday night was of children throughout the years at the festival.
The sheer congregation of movie stars and filmmakers from around the world led to some remarkable images.
When the festival played “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” on the red carpet, Smith grooved to his old single alongside fellow jury members Chastain and Pedro Almodovar.