Cannes Film Festival Opening Ceremony Draws Meryl Streep, Greta Gerwig

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is officially underway in the South of France as A-listers, auteurs and America’s most revered actress, Meryl Streep, converged at the Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere on Tuesday for a typically glamorous opening ceremony.

The anticipation was as thick as the clouds in the sky on Tuesday as rain was not the only threat hanging over the start of this year’s festival. From a possible strike and a fresh #MeToo discussion in France to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, festival officials have faced many questions in the days and hours leading up to Tuesday night. During his annual kick-off press conference, festival boss Thierry Fremaux sidestepped the looming issues and tried to center the main attraction and the core mission of delivering world-class cinema. “We are trying to have a festival without these polemics,” he said, encouraging people (particularly the press) to focus on what’s on the big screens across the seaside city over the fest’s run.

The chatter did not impact what was an emotional, and seamless program with an emphasis on the power of cinema thanks to Cannes jury president Greta Gerwig, Streep and Call My Agent star Camille Cottin, who hosted the opening ceremony.

“I love cinema. This is holy to me. Art is sacred, and films are sacred,” Cannes jury prsident Greta Gerwig said onstage Tuesday night, the Barbie director’s voice choking with emotion at some points. “I cannot believe I am getting the opportunity to spend the next ten days in this house of worship. I love nothing more than sitting in the dark, and feeling a movie begin that’s going to take me somewhere that I did not know, and couldn’t have predicted, that was the place I wanted to go.”

Gerwig was visibly moved when Cannes surprised her with a performacne of the David Bowie song “Modern Love,” which her character danced to in a memorable scene from the 2012 feature Frances Ha, directed by now-husband Noah Baumbach.

On that note, the 2024 edition of the Cannes Film Festival kicked off with the world premiere of Quentin Dupiex’s The Second Act starring Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard. Dupiex — a prolific filmmaker who last presented his Smoking Causes Coughing at Cannes in 2022 — also wrote the script for the film, which centers on a woman who wants to introduce a man she’s madly in love with to her father. But he isn’t attracted to her and hopes to throw her into the arms of his pal. The four characters wind up meeting in a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Before Second Act hit the screen, the opening ceremony’s program unspooled and included Streep and Binoche delivering the official proclamation that the festival is now open for business.

Streep, meanwhile, returned to the festival for the first time since 1989 as the guest of honor to receive an honorary Palme d’Or for her prolific and varied career. It was a triumphant return for Streep, who last visited Cannes in 1989 for A Cry in the Dark, which snagged her a best actress trophy from the festival.

Also on the bill: Cannes introduced this year’s competition jury, which met the press earlier in the day, led by Gerwig, who is joined on the journey by by Oscar-nominated The Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone, French stars Eva Green and Omar Sy, veteran Italian star Pierfrancesco Favino, Lebanese auteur Nadine Labaki, Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, and Turkish screenwriter Ebru Ceylan.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25, a stretch of time that will deliver some highly anticipated world premieres including new works from Francis Ford Coppola, Yorgos Lanthimos, Sean Baker, Andrea Arnold, David Cronenberg, Paolo Sorrentino, Jacques Audiard, Jia Zhang-Ke and a Donald Trump-inspired movie from Ali Abassi, among many others.





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