As such, everyone is wasted and looking over their shoulders, wondering when a famous person might show up so that they can act like they don’t care that said famous person is in attendance. One Great Story: A Nightly Newsletter for the Best of New York
The one story you shouldn’t miss today, selected by New York’s editors. By the time you get to the ketchup, most of the fries are gone. Nobody famous shows up, which at this point makes a lot of sense. Inside the theater, I’m directed to a seat at the highest point of the balcony, roughly 500,000 feet above sea level. “You may enter the Palais ONLY if you can provide a vaccination confirmation,” it begins, “(if you come from the EU).” I read the email many times, then replied, asking if I was to understand that, because my vaccine was not administered in Europe but rather in the filthy trenches of America, I would be required to take COVID tests every 48 hours, despite its being the exact same vaccine they were administering in France. Everything You Need to Know About Aline, the Unofficial Celine Dion Biopic

The French Body-Horror Film That Has Cannes in Stitches

See All

Tags: The film’s stars file into the party, save for Farrell and Justin Min and Sarita Choudhury, who are not at Cannes for reasons undisclosed but probably self-preservation related. I understand this to mean that there are either fewer parties or that people are just having them anyway and only inviting the roped-off people. The ceremony itself is equally vertiginous. In the wake of a Tuesday-evening news story suggesting that France is on the verge of a dangerous fourth wave driven by that pesky Delta variant, I decide to give the smaller press screenings a shot, hoping my fellow neurotic journalists will be more likely to comprehend their mortality. I’m surrounded by coutured French people of all ages, few of whom are wearing a mask and some of whom cough nihilistically into the air. I explain this to the test administrator, who is happy to instead give me the most brain-probing nasal PCR I’ve received in my whole COVID life. Pedro Almodóvar welcomes Jodie Foster, who’s receiving an honorary award for being Jodie Foster; Jodie Foster speaks fluent French for many minutes about the honor of receiving her Jodie Foster Award; Spike Lee expresses a desire to “speak French like Jodie Foster,” who returns to the stage and speaks more French. Later, when I show up to the festival-sponsored tent to muster several milligrams of saliva and drool them into a tiny tube, I think primarily of my oral surgeon, who only days earlier had yanked a spontaneously decaying wisdom tooth from my mouth and specifically instructed me not to spit during recovery. A few minutes later, Turner-Smith places a pillow on the floor, kneels on top of it, and begins DJ-ing from a laptop. Email

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google
Privacy Policy and
Terms of Service apply. Jodie Turner-Smith shows up in a sort of dominatrix-couture situation; Haley Lu Richardson stands nearby in a flower crown and white dress. When the server arrives at the table to take my food order, she laughs in disbelief. As I roam New York City buying integral supplies (KN95 masks and vegan-leather miniskirts), I send no fewer than 600 panicked messages to my patient editor, imagining all of the ways I might die on the Croisette directly in front of Tilda Swinton. Years from now, we won’t even remember the Gap. This doesn’t actually matter, except to me, because they only check these results at random. I put on a black dress and red lipstick and head to the Lumière auditorium, passing the COVID tent on my way. A stream of unmasked celebrities takes the stage to say various things about movies and one another. After a few minutes, a staffer sternly informs me I am not allowed to watch this display and ushers me inside. Nothing has changed at Cannes, exactly, and that’s the problem: Nearly everything has remained the same, despite that whole international mass-death event we’re still in the middle of. Nobody invades her space, and I feel, briefly, like we may someday attain some kind of gentle equilibrium as a species. By 1 a.m., I am exhausted from dumplings and my reintroduction to alcohol, but I hop into an Uber to go to a villa party for the film Cow, Andrea Arnold’s documentary about, well, cows. Fortunately, I have it with me, having anticipated these sorts of ever-changing fantastical whims. Many strange onstage jokes follow about the mask mandate. “It’s different from being French,” says a woman giving a speech about the region’s cinematic exports. Another wears a hat shaped like a candle. Everyone who attends is required to wear black tie and suppress their human instinct to survive. A nice woman I’ve just met in the elevator tries to hand me a drink, and when I explain I have to wait a few days, her friend launches into a slurred explanation of the theory of relativity. I can’t stop thinking, What in the European fuck am I doing here? I am correct about this, for the most part, though I still find myself next to the occasional Frenchman whose mask is hanging around his neck. Sign up here to get it nightly. I head to the “intimate” after-party on a rooftop nearby. At the massive wrought-iron door, my temperature is taken, and I’m asked to show my vaccine card. “It’s all relative,” she concludes. I try to switch the coffee back to the cup but it’s too late. There are, of course, no cows either, but there is a statue of one next to the pool. It’s kinky, really. I drink the lukewarm coffee out of the bucket. It is as if everyone has agreed (sans me) to pretend everything is totally normal in the interest of preserving some kind of cinematic dignity that has almost been lost — and that, in fact, returning to deifying celebrity as a concept above all else will somehow save us from the possibility that things might go back to being bad. All of this is scored by Dean Martin and Line Renaud’s “Relaxezvous,” which is a song about relaxing because everything is great. “That’s the aim of a film.” I make a note to ask myself how different I am in 12 days. “But we feel we have a lot to offer.”

That day, Deadline reports that three COVID cases are popping up per day at Cannes; the festival denies this and says the number is zero. I test negative. Ultimately, it succeeds each year in encouraging a sort of universal Stockholm syndrome among its confused and jet-lagged attendees, who find themselves desperate for more pain and rejection in the hopes of glimpsing the back of Bella Hadid’s head 600 rows in front of them. “Lots of us have spent the year shut up in our little bubbles and others were faced with suffering, anxiety, pain and mortal fear,” she says. Outside it, a woman in heels is openly weeping. Thank you for supporting our journalism. “There was no Gap, mon chéri,” she’ll say, staring off into the middle distance, smoking three cigarettes. His mother will shush him. Helen Mirren shimmies to the cameras, smirking Britishly; Jessica Chastain, grinning widely, signs a few autographs. No famous people ever show up. Bong Joon Ho, always a breath of fresh air, shows up and explains, somewhat bewilderedly, that he’s there because the festival asked him to “bridge the gap” between 2019’s event (at which he won the Palme d’Or) and this year’s. Usually there’s a heavy party scene at Cannes — cocktails on the beach, passed apps on little bar-side tables, dancing in an area heavily roped off from Leonardo DiCaprio, whose back you can sort of see but who is mostly obscured by the lurking silhouette of Quentin Tarantino. She knows I drank out of a little ice bucket. Someone asks me if she is Florence Pugh, and for a moment, I don’t know. The space is decorated like it was abandoned in the cocaine ’80s. At any given time, there are maybe 36 people at the party. Gendarmes wielding rifles (to prevent COVID) waltz cheerily in front of the red carpet, where Driver and Cotillard will soon arrive, unmasked, to wave at a bunch of fans and photographers who are required to wear masks. Roughly 200, or maybe 400, people stand around a gigantic glittering pool and dance sleepily on a (banned) indoor dance floor. I’ve now been awake for 30 hours, which is neither here nor there but maybe important for context. “Like, ‘Corona.’ ” Crystal Moselle, the director of Skate Kitchen and HBO’s Betty, stops by the circle of people I’m standing in and grabs a few boxes of the fries that are being passed out, all of which have pools of ketchup in them but only at the bottom. The next day, news will break that Cannes is now allowing non-EU citizens to get a vaccine health pass so that they no longer have to get tested every 48 hours. The vibes at the A24 party are the most reasonable I’ve encountered yet: low-key but genuinely fun, with several dumpling options available and no walls. COVID-19 numbers are steadily climbing across Europe, with the mysterious Delta variant seeming to evade the vaccines more successfully than its older, weaker brethren; meanwhile, I am readying myself to sit in crowded, windowless rooms for 12 days straight with thousands of strangers whose vaccination status will remain unknown to me and many of whom are French, i.e., give no fucks. “What was the Gap, Mom?” a little French child might say in the year 2050, although in French. I stand there for a while, watching beautiful women try not to sweat in loofahlike gowns. “I simply have the impression that the festival couldn’t take place one year, but I don’t think the cinema ever stopped per se.” Everyone onstage talks a lot about the Gap, sort of like it was the Rapture, insisting that even though it was a Gap, it wasn’t actually a Gap — that we can pick up right where we left off, that cinema can and will survive, that the most important thing is getting back into the theaters. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The latter turns out to be the case, which makes perfect sense for Cannes — the festival gets off on exclusion, and COVID seems to be another way for it to cultivate a sense of sweaty striving among its attendees. “Have alcohol.”

The next morning, I order an iced coffee at a café, and they instead give me a little silver bucket of ice in which to pour a cup of piping hot coffee. In the weeks before the festival, attendees had received exactly one (1) email from the Cannes press office about COVID protocols, written in the opaque and lilting style of all Cannes emails, which tend to evoke an image of a French person laughing maniacally and smoking three cigarettes while typing. Somehow, I arrive in Cannes, courtesy of a flight on which I’m seated by a mopey Scandinavian teen who coughs on my head and an Uber driver who exclusively plays deep-house Coldplay remixes. Four emails and three weeks later, the press office confirmed that yes, everyone who is not blessedly European will be getting tested every 48 hours in a free on-site facility requiring advance scheduling on a website my laptop would subsequently recognize as malware. That night, I’m invited to a cocktail reception at the Scandinavian Terrace, where the famed Scandi Joachim Trier is being celebrated for his new movie, The Worst Person in the World. *This
article appears in the July 19, 2021, issue of New York Magazine. “I have the impression that there was no gap,” says Bong. After Annette ends, Adam Driver sparks up a cigarette inside the theater during a five-minute standing ovation (which has now become the standard for every Lumière screening, rendering the very concept meaningless; perhaps Driver, understanding this, was primally driven to smoke). Photo: Kate Green/Getty Images

In the days leading up to the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, I begin to wonder: Am I willing to risk becoming grievously ill in the name of cinema? I study Crystal’s subtly sparkly tooth jewelry before she walks away to talk to someone who has something to talk about other than this ketchup situation. I urgently need to know if there will be cows at the villa. I get an invite to a luncheon being held in a few days that reads, incredibly, “After those long lockdown periods that have been plunging the world into a deep crisis, the Cannes Film Festival’s comeback in its original form also announces celebrations and joyous occasions that go along with it even though caution and physical distancing must continue because our long fight against COVID-19 is unfortunately far from behind us.”

I head to another party, this one hosted by A24 on the beach, to celebrate After Yang, a movie about a robot who malfunctions and subsequently ruins Colin Farrell’s life. I eat vegetarian sushi and drink my first glass of wine in a week while chatting with some journalist and publicist friends about our confusion over every single thing that is happening. The mood is placid, and the ground is covered in AstroTurf. One of the French speakers muses on the power of the theatrical experience. She is one of the only speakers to address all of the annihilation we’ve experienced as a globe, albeit briefly. Nearby, the film’s 9-year-old star, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, smiles for selfies with various adults. One of them argues with a staffer about having to put on a mask inside and ultimately prevails. Bong Joon Ho, jury member. The bar is crowded with drunk people smoking at one another, screaming over the melancholy sounds of “California Dreamin’.” I can’t drink yet because of my tooth situation, so I simply watch them. “I knew COVID was serious when we started having nicknames for it,” says a man I’ve just met near the dumplings. The Cannes opening-night gala is a screening of Leos Carax’s Annette, a film about how Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard give birth to a puppet and attempt to turn it into a lucrative financial export. In a halfhearted attempt to maintain some sense of what the fest is calling its “health-and-safety protocol,” the Annette after-party is serving no food, though the alcohol is flowing freely. I wonder if my desire to stay alive is American exceptionalism. “It’s complicated to know who is hiding behind the mask,” says one of the speakers in a confusing attempt at levity and perhaps inadvertently explaining all of human behavior. I get a glass of wine in a plastic cup from a person who may or may not be a bartender, and I spend most of the party waiting in line for the single bathroom, thinking about my complicity in upholding a culture of wealth and arbitrary worship that has no interest in sustaining anything but itself. This year, the beach is relatively quiet, with dance floors unilaterally banned. But this year, it all feels particularly bizarre, more snarlingly intense even than the French men in tuxes who harangue you for a ticket to the gala screenings as you walk into the Palais des Festivals. Shortly thereafter, news will break that, actually, no, they are not doing that, sorry. Cannes has long been the most glamorous and most insane of its category, a Byzantine maze of retrograde fashion rules and hierarchical regulations meant to create and sustain an overarching sense of individual defeat and unworthiness. I walk over and touch him on his cow leg, which is solid and cold. As a result, I miss the auspicious arrival of Bella Hadid. “Maybe we’ll be different at the end of the festival,” she says. Subscribe Now! This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. More From Cannes 2021

Which of These Cannes Movies Is the ‘Next Uncut Gems’? When I arrive, the bouncer asks to see my American vaccine card, despite the fact that it has been declared fundamentally useless to the festival.