The Show Must Go On: The Cannes 2021 Film Festival | Festivals & Awards


“Films,” Fremaux rhapsodized, “running a fever — pitched high and urgent. Lots of poetry and new forms.”

“We dreamed of putting on a festival without a limit on seating capacity and we will hold one at full capacity. But the pandemic is not over. That said, we can hold dinners, so long as no table seats more than six people.” (As I write this, only outdoor terrace dining is allowed nationwide. The plan is to permit indoor dining starting June 9th and semblance-of-normal behavior starting June 30th. The Festival gets underway just 6 days later.)

The Festival is in close contact with the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, say Fremaux and Lescure. “For example, if a French person who lives in the U.S. wants to attend the Festival, they’ll be admitted to France but will they be able to get back into the U.S.? President Biden is due in Europe in 10 days and that should help clarify a few things.”

The Streaming Giants Stay Home

Speaking of clarification, Fremaux was asked about the absence of films purveyed by Netflix. Fremaux has been saying for years that when a Netflix production is of Cannes-caliber quality, they would be delighted to show it in an out-of-competition slot. Or a Competition slot if Netflix wasn’t so blinkered and stubborn. (You read that right—I’m calling Netflix blinkered and stubborn, NOT the Cannes Film Festival.)

“We have rules,” says Fremaux. “Any film selected for Competition must be made available to be shown in French movie theaters. The people of France must be able to see the Competition films in a cinema. Netflix doesn’t wish to comply with that rule and they aren’t interested in a programming slot that’s not in the Competition. So, no — there are no Netflix films in the Official Selection this year.”

“The job of a film festival is to defend and support and accompany movies in movie theaters,” says Fremaux. “A festival is a living thing, a kind of performance.”

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