Dispatch from the 75th Cannes Film Festival

Dispatch from the 75th Cannes Film Festival
The 75th Cannes Film Festival kicks off with emotional speech from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; Forest Whitaker honored with Honorary Palme d’Or After two years of a Covid-altered Cannes, the festival is once again resuming its May dates as it kicks off this week with a bang; Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the opening ceremony via video message, saying, “We continue fighting. We have no choice but to continue fighting for our freedom.” He added, “Glory to Ukraine.” Cannes will screen the final film from Mantas Kvedaravičius, a Lithuanian filmmaker who was killed in Mariupol in early April. The film is a Ukraine-set documentary he was filming. Cannes has banned Russians who have ties to Putin’s government from attending the festival this year. Zelenskyy, a former actor who gained prominence playing a Ukrainian president on the Ukrainian TV show Servant of the People, said in his Cannes video message, “Hundreds of people are dying today,” Zelenskyy said. “Is cinema going to stay quiet or is it going to stay out of it?” President of #Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the opening of the @Festival_Cannes.@ZelenskyyUa: “I am confident that the dictator will lose. We will win this war”. The President received a standing ovation. #StandWithUkraine️ pic.twitter.com/Mtxv1QcXyX — MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) May 17, 2022 War and an ongoing global pandemic have ravaged the world, but still, hope and light remain. And hope, in the form of art, like films, is out in full force at this year’s festival, with the premiere of some incredible works. Unlike last year’s festival, the 75th Cannes won’t require regular Covid testing, and things feel mostly back to normal. Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was moved from May to July. And the year prior, in 2020, it was outright canceled due to the pandemic. Forest Whitaker, the celebrated Black American actor and director, is receiving an Honorary Palme D’Or (the festival’s highest honor) at this year’s festival for his contributions to cinema. Whitaker’s documentary featured at this year’s Cannes, For the Sake of Peace, examines conflict and peacebuilding in South Sudan. The film highlights the filmmaker’s peacemaking and artistic efforts which reach far beyond Hollywood. Whitaker is the founder of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), a non-profit outreach that serves communities in South Sudan. He’s also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and a Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation. Forest Whitaker at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo credit: Getty

Lead photo credit : Tom Cruise and the cast of TOP GUN: MAVERICK at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo credit: Getty

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.