The Cannes Film Festival opened up Tuesday with crowded red carpet arrivals, a star-studded ceremony and a call from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the world of cinema to speak out against the war.
“We need a new (Charlie) Chaplin to prove that today cinema is not silent,” said Zelenskiy, referring to Charlie Chaplin’s satire of Adolf Hitler at the outset of World War Two in 1939.
“We must be victorious. We need cinema to guarantee this ending, that each time it will be on the side of freedom,” said the Ukraine leader through a live video link from Kyiv during the opening ceremony, marking a somber note in the otherwise festive proceedings.
Event organizers had rolled out the red carpet earlier in the day, as cinema stars, festival goers and oglers gathered for the 75th anniversary event, bringing buzz and glamour back to the French Riviera resort, as well as discussions about the role of cinema during times of conflict.
The festival kicked off with the screening of zombie film “Final Cut,” by Michel Hazanavicius, who was joined by cast members Berenice Bejo and Romain Duris on the red carpet.
In the opening ceremony, festival president Pierre Lescure handed Forest Whitaker an Honorary Palme d’Or for lifetime achievement, prompting a standing ovation.
“An honorary Palme to the artist, the filmmaker, the UNESCO ambassador, simply, a citizen of the world,” said Lescure.
The actor’s production company is showing “For the Sake of Peace”, a documentary on the war in South Sudan.
The world’s biggest film festival runs from May 17-28 and will include screenings of Hollywood titles including Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama “Elvis.”
With the war in Ukraine hanging over the event, debates over the role of cinema during times of violence dominated discussions.