The 77th Cannes Film Festival Kicks off with Meryl Streep, Megalopolis and More

The 77th Cannes Film Festival Kicks off with Meryl Streep, Megalopolis and More

It’s mid-May in the south of France so that can only mean one thing: The annual Cannes Film Festival is underway with a flair of glamour and excitement. The international film festival, which runs from May 14 – May 25 and is currently in its 77th year, is an epicenter of Hollywood glitz and film industry happenings.

At the opening ceremony on Tuesday night, the Cannes jury walked le tapis rouge (the red carpet) before the opening screening of Le Deuxième Acte by director Quentin Dupieux. The cast of the film also walked along le tapis rouge to great excitement by crowds and photographers, particularly for French actress Léa Seydoux.

Official poster for the 77th Cannes Film Festival

Inside the Grand Théâtre Lumière, audience members were treated to the sounds of the Worakls Orchestra and the jury was introduced to great fanfare. This year’s jury members include jury president and Barbie director Greta Gerwig, screenwriter Ebru Ceylan, Killers of the Flower Moon actress Lily Gladstone, actress Eva Green, actor Omar Sy, director Kore-Eda Hirokazo, and more. Gerwig gave a heartfelt speech of thanks for selecting her to be there, and she spoke of how art and film are “sacred”, and the movie theater is a “place of worship.”

Actress Juliette Binoche presented Meryl Streep with the honorary Palme d’Or. Streep’s speech of thanks ranged from talking about her children, to her makeup artist, and also about life, invoking the words of her mother, saying, “it all goes by so fast.” When the highlights reel from Streep’s career was shown inside the theater, she said, “it’s like watching a bullet train of my life go by.”

And speaking of trains, the Cannes train station is thrumming with new arrivals by the minute, and buses and taxis from the nearby Nice Côte d’Azur Airport bring new festival goers non-stop. Some of the rooms at one of the nicest hotels in Cannes, Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes, are priced at over 2,000 euro per night during the festival.

This year, the legendary Streep’s presence is a highlight of the festival, Francis Ford Coppola returns to cinema with a bang with his hotly anticipated film, Megalopolis, and 22 movies are featured as “In Competition” films for the famed Palme d’Or. Among these films are Coppola’s Megalopolis, Kinds of Kindness from Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things, The Favorite), The Apprentice from Ali Abbasi (in which Donald Trump is portrayed), Oh, Canada from Paul Schrader, Bird by Andrea Arnold, and more.

Films in the “Out of Competition” category include hot titles like Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga from director George Miller, Le Deuxième Acte from Quentin Dupieux, and the Kevin Costner-directed Horizon: An American Saga.

77th Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Anne McCarthy

Throughout the festival, over 30,000 festival-goers will flock to La Croisette to soak up the sun, see as many films as possible, and sip some champagne among the stars. Cannes Film Festival requires a huge amount of planning and expert execution, which means over 500 festival workers will be on hand to support the festival happenings. The first day of the festival, on Tuesday, the lines grew increasingly long as festival-goers queued up at the Cannes marina to collect their accreditation badges. Typically, Cannes Film Festival means lots of sunshine, but the festival began with gray, overcast days, with the sun forecasted for later in the week.

Cannes Film Festival is regarded as arguably the most glamorous international film festival in the world. It’s one of the “Big Five” film festivals, which include: the Toronto International Film Festival, Berlinale, Sundance Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival. The combination of southern France’s charms, the gorgeous May weather, and the geographical accessibility for many countries make this festival a one-of-a-kind experience.

77th Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Anne McCarthy

There is much excitement at this year’s festival around the return of Coppola, who, 45 years ago, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his groundbreaking film Apocalypse Now. His latest film stars Adam Driver in the lead role of Megalopolis as a “visionary architect” who wants to rebuild a city following a disaster. The New York Times reports how Coppola funded this film himself to the tune of $120 million. The film’s steep price point will potentially impact distribution.

Another legend of cinema, director and actor Ron Howard, will be celebrated at this year’s Variety party. Variety will honor Howard with its prestigious Profile in Excellence Award.

It’s often said about the Cannes Film Festival that the best part is the unexpected: The spontaneous glamorous moment on le tapis, a surprise hit (like 2019’s Parasite from director Bong Joon-ho), a tender or contentious moment during a press conference. This year at the 77th festival, the world will be watching to see what surprising and spontaneous moments occur along La Croisette.

Lead photo credit : 77th Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Anne McCarthy

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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.