Rain, and more rain – welcome to Day 1 of the 66th Cannes Film Festival. Luckily, there were other highlights today, enough to draw attention away from the gloomy skies.
The cast of the opening film at this year’s event, The Great Gatsby, took part in a press conference before the film’s red carpet European debut. The only thing I’ve found that comes close to Brangelina fever here in Cannes is Leo fever, and fans were lined all along the halls of the Palais des Festivals just to catch a glimpse of Leonardo DiCaprio. He said he found Gatsby to be a “fascinating” character, one he came to know a lot more intimately after re-studying him again for this role, in the pages of F Scott Fitzgerald’s book. But it was even more delightful to hear Tobey Maguire, who plays Nick Carraway to Leo’s Gatsby, talk about working with his friend.
Next up, Steven Spielberg led this year’s jury into the press conference room, to talk about how they’re going to approach the process of deciding which film will be honoured with the top prize, the Palme d’Or, this year. Nine filmmakers make up the jury, among them actress Nicole Kidman, director Lynne Ramsay, and recent Oscar winners Ang Lee (who beat Spielberg for best director) and Christoph Waltz (whose international career was made here in Cannes a few years ago with Inglourious Basterds). It was quite sweet when Lee was asked about winning the Oscar over Spielberg and he said he didn’t think much about the competition factor because the Jaws director is his “hero.” Spielberg returned the love, saying he admired Life of Pi, and Lee’s work too.
He went on to say that he thinks film festivals are not so much about competing, but rather the chance for filmmakers from all over the globe to show off: “It’s a chance to brag and to boast about all the different things that so many cultures get to say about their worlds and about each other. I look at it as two weeks of celebrating film, not two weeks of pitting one film against the other,” he said.
In that spirit, the festival is on. 19 films vying for the Palme d’Or, and many more just for some of that much-loved Cannes buzz that may just spill out of the Festival des Palais, and into movie theatres across the world.