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Back to Normal? Cannes Film Festival Prepares to Party

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FILE - Diane Kruger poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film "Everything Went Fine" at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France on July 7, 2021. This year marks Cannes' 75 anniversary. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

CANNES, France (AP) — After the 2020 Cannes Film Festival was canceled by the pandemic and the 2021 edition was scaled back — even kisses were forbade on the red carpet — the lavish French Riviera cinema soiree is set to return with a festival that promises to be something like normal.

Or at least Cannes’ very particular brand of normal, where for 12 days formal wear and film mingle in sun-dappled splendor, stopwatch-timed standing ovations stretch for minutes on end and director names like “Kore-eda” and “Denis” are spoken with hushed reverence.

What passes for the usual at Cannes has never been especially ordinary, but it has proven remarkably resilient to the fluctuations of time. Since its first festival, in 1946 on the heels of World War II, Cannes has endured as a maximalist spectacle that puts world cinema and Cote d’Azur glamour in the spotlight. This year marks Cannes’ 75 anniversary.

“Hopefully it will back to a normal Cannes now,” says Ruben Östlund, who returns this year with the social satire “Triangle of Sadness,” a follow-up to his Palme d’Or-winning 2017 film “The Square.”

“It’s a fantastic place if you’re a filmmaker. You feel like you have the attention of the cinema world,” adds Östlund. “To hear the buzz that’s going on, people talking about the different films. Hopefully, they’re talking about your film.”

This year’s Cannes, which opens Tuesday with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie movie “Z,” will unfold against not just the late ebbs of the pandemic and the rising tide of streaming but the largest war Europe has seen since WWII, in Ukraine. Begun as a product of war — the festival was initially launched as a French rival to the Venice Film Festival, which Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler had begun interfering with — this year’s Cannes will again resound with the echoes of a not-so-far-away conflict.

Cannes organizers have barred Russians with ties to the government from the festival. Set to screen are several films from prominent Ukrainian filmmakers, including Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary “The Natural History of Destruction.” Footage shot by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius before he was killed in Mariupol in April will also be shown by his fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova.

At the same time, Cannes will host more Hollywood star wattage than it has for three years. Joseph Kosinski’s pandemic-delayed “Top Gun: Maverick” will be screened shortly before it opens in theaters. Tom Cruise will walk the carpet and sit for a rare, career-spanning interview.

“Every director’s dream is to be able to go to Cannes someday,” says Kosinski. “To go there with this film and with Tom, to screen it there and be a part of the retrospective they’re going to do for him, it’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience.”

Warner Bros. will premiere Baz Luhrmann’s splashy “Elvis,” starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. George Miller, last in Cannes with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” will debut his fantasy epic “Thee Thousand Years of Longing,” with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Ethan Coen will premiere his first film without his brother Joel, “Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind,” a documentary about the rock ‘n’ roll legend made with archival footage. Also debuting: James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” a New York-set semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale with Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong.

Far from all of Hollywood will be present. Cannes’ regulations regarding theatrical release have essentially ruled out streaming services from the competition lineup from which the Palme d’Or winner is chosen. This year’s jury is headed by French actor Vincent Lindon.

Last year’s Palme winner, Julia Ducournau’s explosive “Titane,” which starred Lindon, was only the second time Cannes’ top honor went to a female filmmaker. This year, there are five movies directed by women in competition for the Palme, a record for Cannes but a low percentage compared to other international festivals.

This year’s lineup, too, is full of festival veterans and former Palme winners, including Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Broker”), Christian Mungiu’s (“RMN”) and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes (“Tori and Lokita”). Iconoclast filmmakers like Claire Denis (“Stars at Noon”), David Cronenberg (“Crimes of the Future”) and Park Chan-wook (“Decision to Leave”) are also up for the Palme, as is Kelly Reichardt, who reteams with Michelle Williams in “Showing Up.”

Even with a robust slate full of Cannes all-stars, how much can the festival really revert back to old times? Last year’s light-on-crowds edition included masking inside theaters and regular COVID-19 testing for attendees. It still produced some of the year’s most acclaimed films, including the best picture-nominated “Drive My Car,” “The Worst Person in the World” and “A Hero.” Cannes remains an unparalleled platform for the best in cinema, while still susceptible to criticisms of representation.

What’s not likely to return anytime soon is the same amount of partying that characterized the years where Harvey Weinstein was a ubiquitous figure at the festival. COVID-19 concerns aren’t gone. Attendees won’t be tested and are strongly encouraged to mask. Few non-streaming companies have the budgets for lavish parties. Crowds will be back at Cannes but to what extent?

“It’s going to be different than it’s ever been before,” says Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classic and a longtime Cannes regular. “Are they going to have parties? Are they going to have COVID concerns? Or is everyone going to go there and just try to ignore stuff?”

Bernard has noticed some practices in the Cannes market, where distribution rights for films are bought and sold, remain virtual. Initial meet-and-greets with sellers, in which executives and producers typically hop between hotels along the Croisette, have taken place largely on Zoom before the festival, he says. Deal-making has gotten more focused. Cannes, known for being both high-minded and frivolous, has perhaps grown slightly more sober.

“It’s a reshuffle of an event that’s always been sort of the same, in every way,” says Bernard. “The routine, I think, will change.”

One thing that can relied on with ironclad certainty at Cannes is frequent and ardent overtures to the primacy of the big screen, despite ongoing sea changes in the film industry. Some films, like Östlund’s, which co-stars Woody Harrelson, will hope to straddle the disparate movie worlds that collide in Cannes.

“The goal we set out for ourselves,” says Östlund, “was to combine the best parts of the American cinema with the European cinema, to try to do something that’s really entertaining and at the same time thought-provoking.”

Entertainment

Day 2: Grammy Nominee Jelly Roll closed out Riptide Music Festival 2023

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MAIMI, Fla. (FNN) – Day 2 offered big names in the alternative/rock world, but also had Audacy bringing back a touch of their Chili Cookoff roots with Jelly Roll headlining. The recent CMA New Artist of the Year, also nominated for 2 Grammy Awards, brought the fire…literally.

Local band Girlfriend Material opened the day with some fun songs including Adam’s Sandler’s “The Chanukkah Song”. Next, Barns Courtney had the fans jumping early as he joined them in the GA section to close our his set.

AWOLNATION showed why they get a lot of airtime on 104.3 The Shark and had the crowd clapping as they played their hit song “Sail”.

Sublime with Rome, one of the longest running bands at Riptide, played hit after hit as lead singer Rome Ramirez showed his appreciation for the road that Sublime paved. Multiple times he sang their praises as he shouted “Long Live Sublime.”

As the sun started to set on the day and festival, Lovely the Band showed why they were invited back to Riptide.

If you’ve never seen The Dirty Heads play, you might not know exactly what type of band they are. When asked on the red carpet, frontman Jared Watson said “That’s what I love about our band. I don’t think there is anyone else like us…I’m proud of that. You can call it alternative, you can call it reggae rock but it’s not really either of them…” Call it what you want (I say reggae/rap/alternative), they were obviously a crowd favorite.

Jelly Roll, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Sunday, closed out the festival singing all of his hits “Need A Favor” “Son of a Sinner”. He dropped in some cover medleys of old school country “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and hip-hop “Boys in the Hood / Roughriders / Lose Yourself / Ms. Jackson / Just a Friend” as he shared stories of growing up being the youngest of 5. Jelly Roll is not your average man of god “I do not believe this is a concert. I believe this is family reunion of people that are human together…I believe that heaven has a smoking session and an open bar” he says right before he sang “Smoking Section”. He closed with his latest #1 Country Hit “Save Me” as sparkles rained down.

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Day 1: Riptide offers good music and a whole lotta fun

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (FNN) – Audacy’s Riptide Music Festival returned to Fort Lauderdale Beach yesterday with a solid lineup of bands you’d expect to see at a festival supported by 104.3 the Shark.

Photo by Matt Wolff / Florida National News

Jack Kays of Cincinnati, fresh off his tour, opened things on the Demesmin & Dover Stage. Little Image, a band from Austin, TX, who met in high school were first to play on the main Riptide Stage.

The Beaches (Canada) brought some girl power with their first US Billboard charted single “Blame Brett”. While LoveJoy didn’t rate their performance very high, the crowd was high energy and singing along to “Portrait of a Blank Slate”. Young the Giant (Irvine, CA) had the fans jumping up and down as they closed their set with “My Body”. Bleachers wasted no time as they jumped right in with “I Wanna Get Better”. Jack Antonoff, formerly of fun., was highly engaged with the crowded cracking NJ/Florida jokes, bouncing around, singing all their top songs including the live concert debut of “Modern Girl”. The Black Keys closed out a solid Day 1 of music with their hits “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine” and “Lonely Boy.

Having been to dozens of music festivals with fans complaining about the crowds, it was a nice change of pace to not have to fight for every inch as the early sets weren’t as heavily attended as in the past. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the 2nd time in a row, the main stage was set facing north instead of to the ocean. This gave a lot more room for GA/VIP to hang out.

Aside from a fun day of music, there were a ton of great activations lead by the Ford Beach House. Whether it was the cowboy hat giveaway, DJ/bands playing, a limbo contest for VIP upgrade or a dance contest to Wobble/Dougie/Gangnam Style, the fans were highly entertained during and in-between performances. Twin Peaks Sports Bar was next door showing todays big games and giving away food/drink coupons. Goya (cookies) and Jolly Time (popcorn) provided the snacks, while Celcius and El Bandido Yankee Tequilla offered free beverage samples. If you are a fan of cigars, Al Capone was giving away cigarillos wrapping paper and lighters.

There was no shortage of giveaways including hats, towels, bags, sunglasses, fly swatters/fans. If you like music, the beach and free stuff, Day 1 didn’t disappoint.

Day 1: See more event photos at Florida National News’ Facebook page.

Day 2 offers big names in the alternative rock world, but also has Audacy bringing back a touch of their Chili Cookoff roots with Jelly Roll headlining.

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Matt Wolff is a South Florida reporter for Florida National News. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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Country Music’s Biggest Stars Flood Miami for Audacy’s Stars and Strings Concert

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HARDY poses for photos on the red carpet during Audacy's Stars & Strings Concert at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Matt Wolff / Florida National News.
HARDY poses for photos on the red carpet during Audacy's Stars & Strings Concert at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Matt Wolff / Florida National News.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (FNN) – Some of country music’s most decorated artists graced the stage last night for Audacy’s Stars and Strings. one Opry Member, 30+ Number 1 hits and a couple of rising stars.

HARDY, Brian Kelley, Ashley McBryde, Cole Swindell, Michael Ray and Hailey Whitters performed at the annual concert, hosted by Kiss Country 99.9 WKIS Miami Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL. The show supports I’m Listening, Audacy’s ongoing mental health initiative, and partnered with Wounded Warrior Project to support veterans’ mental health.

The first trio was Brian Kelley, formerly the Florida half of Florida Georgia Line, Hailey Whitters and Michael Ray, a last-minute replacement for Jordan Davis.

Next up was Cole Swindell, Ashley McBryde and HARDY, who appeared to be the crowd favorite. “Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!” was chanted before and after each song he sang.

The crowd sang along to all of the hits, including “You Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” “God’s Country,” “One Night Standards,” “Everything She Ain’t,” “Whiskey and Rain” and “See You Next Summer.”

With all of the hits these artists have written/sang and only four songs to choose, it was impossible for them to play all of fan favorites, but they crowd was on their feet and singing from start to finish.

Throughout the night, each artist expressed their gratitude to the men and women who serve(d) this country and spoke about how important the Wounded Warrior Project was in the fight for veteran’s mental health.

Up and coming artists George Birge and Sammy Arriaga performed their songs at the pre-party while the headliners made their rounds on the red carpet and Meet-n-Greets.

 

Brian Kelley speaks with Florida National News on the red carpet.

 

Ashley McBride speaks with Florida National News on the red carpet.

 

Michael Ray speaks with Florida National News on the red carpet.

 

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Matt Wolff is a South Florida reporter for Florida National News. | info@floridanationalnews.com

 

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