The 2019 Cannes Film Festival, A Decadent Vortex of Film, Glitz and Galas.

Image Courtesy of the Cannes Festival de Film

The Cannes Film Festival is the grand dame of all film festivals.  Its the place where each spring the film industry, celebrities, jet setters, and film buffs descend on the Cote d' Azur along the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the south of France. For ten days in May, Cannes is the epicenter of glitz and glamour with over the top star-studded film premieres and galas. Here’s a peak inside at this year’s Festival de Cannes.

Image Courtesy of the Cannes Festival de Film

From its early days, Cannes has been an unattainable fantasy land where star-struck admirers saw their matinee idols decked out in spiffy tuxedos and glittering gowns on the red carpet of a movie premiere in the exotic south of France. Well not much has changed since those early days; Cannes is still the most glamorous place on the planet where the biggest names in film share their work with the world at film’s most coveted premiere event. 

There’s something magical about being in Cannes at this time of year. The French Rivera during the festival is the hotbed of high society and aspirational wannabees. Fans, event attendees, and industry insiders come and go along the mile long road known as the Croisette. In the distance, hundreds of mega yachts anchor offshore hosting the wealthiest of devotees and party-goers from around the world.  Along the strip there are sexy beach clubs to drop in for lunch during the day or for the swanky parties at night. On the other side of the Croisette are countless ultra-brand shops from Gucci to Armani and Chopard, fancy bistros and the strips famous grand hotels,  the Carlton, Martinez, and the Majestic.

Image Courtesy of the Cannes Festival de Film

All roads in Cannes lead to the Palais. The grand theatre is where the major films premieres take place and where infamous red carpet appearances are ensconced with hordes of paparazzi jockeying for position to get that most perfect shot of the celebs as they ascend the red-carpeted steps during their moment of glory.  The red carpet is actually changed three times a day and over a mile of red carpet is used at each festival.    

The decadence of the film festival is legendary and nowhere more so than on display than on those fashionistas and their ultra-poses on that very red carpet. Designers are made on the red carpet where celebs and fashion icons have created an industry unto itself dripping with millions of dollars’ worth of baubles as well as the most decadent haute couture dresses.

Image Courtesy of the Cannes Festival de Film

Once inside the Palais and away from the strobe-like bulb flashing of the paparazzi, the serious business of film appreciation begins. Cannes, after all,  is first and foremost about the celebration of film. Massive blockbuster films make their debut to the world and were small budget independent films get discovered and purchased during the festival.

Cannes is an appreciation of film but also a competition. There are several areas judged such as female and male actor, director, the Jury Prize and the top prize which is the best film in competition which is award the coveted Palm d’or.  Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who directed Birdman, Babel and The Revenant, was the president of this year’s competition which featured blockbuster movies as well as gritty independent production films.   

This year the opening film was The Dead Don’t Die from  Jim Jarmusch and stared Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Adam Driver. The quirky Zombie’s film had anti-Trump political message but seemed to never develop a plot and gets lost along the way. The film was met with mixed reviews and seems to be destined for cult status. 

The most anticipated film of the festival was the ninth and epic Quinten Tarantino film,  Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This soon to be mega hit debuted 25 years to the day that Pulp Fiction premiered in Cannes. Tarantino is one of the most heralded film makers of our generation so it’s hard to believe that he’s only made nine films. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood did not disappoint with megastars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margo Robbie among other stars.  The film is about Hollywood coming of age during the sixties and the intersection of the film's leads with the Manson murders of 1969.  Its premier in Cannes was not without controversy where a bit of tasteful mayhem ensued as tickets to the premier were over sold. The outcome was that these beautiful, well-quaffed and decked out attendees were turned away at the entrance. Sadly their plans for a night on the red carpet in the presence of the biggest names in films was quickly dashed as they were relegated to walk of shame and to oblivion of the Croisette, surely destined for dinner at an anonymous eatery sans red carpet.

The Jury Prize winner was the French film, Les Misérables that focused on the life and struggles of a diverse Paris suburb where ethic and police force tensions begin to rise a la Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.


A film that was not in competition yet still garnered considerable attention was Rocket Man, a film about the life and rise to stardom of Elton John starting Taron Egerton. One cannot help but to draw comparison to last year's Bohemian Rhapsody film also directed by Dexter Fletcher.  The film was widely praised by fans and critics alike.   

A film of particular note was the closing film, a restored version of Rambo First Blood along with the night honoring the career and films brought to life by Sylvester Stallone.  A fitting end to a wonderful 10 days immersion in the  love of film.

Boon Joon-ho, D'Or . Courtesy of All in Korean

The winner of the coveted Palm D’Or was the Korean dark comedy film Parasite by Boon Joon-ho . Other winners were Best Actress: Emily Beecham, Little Joe; Best Actor: Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory; Best Director: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, The Young Ahmed and the Grand Prix: Atlantics, Mati Diop.

Cannes is about the film industry where films are premiered but also where the business of film happens. The major studios are there along with filmmakers and a horde of lawyers and agents, reviewing films buying and selling rights and making distribution agreements. Needless to say, Cannes is not just about business. The party scene is of legend and is typically broken down by the A-list parties and then everything else. The A-list galas are a vortex of fashion, dazzle, and celebrity. This is the big leagues.

The crème de la crème of parties is actually not even in Cannes. The Vanity Fair gala is held 30 minutes away in Antibes at the Hotel du Cap with invites limited to only the top celebs and movers and shakers. This year’s event welcomed Elle Fanning, Robert Pattinson, Eva Longoria as well as fashion icons, and industry insiders.

Courtesy of amfAR

The festival galas have also become parties with a purpose such as the pinnacle of celeb and do-goodery, AMFAR which raises millions of dollars at each of their events in their fight against AIDS. This year, Mariah Carrey belted out several tunes which helped the well-to-do clients loosen their wallets and bid on some incredible items and experiences to raise funds.

Eva Longoria hosted the Global Gifting Gala which has become a go to event for raising funds for humanitarian causes around the world.

British actress Florence Pugh and French Actor Francois Courtesy of Chopard

Chopard is the jewelry brand that has become synonymous with Cannes and each year hosts a number of events and galas where their most valued clients get the chance to hob nob with celebrities as well as to see their latest collection.

The Chopard Trophée Dinner & After Party is among the top galas with a dress code of “black tie, diamonds and a touch of love.” Actress Zhang Ziyi, and Chopard ambassador presented the award to rising young stars, the talented British actress Florence Pugh who stared in Lady Macbeth and French Actor Francois Civil of Wolf’s Call. 

Courtesy of Nikki Beach Cannes

This year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Participant Media hosted a fabulous party at the Nikki Beach Cannes. This party was more fun than formal with industry insiders hobnobbing alongside Cate Blanchett,  Robert Pattinson, Quinton Terrantino, Andie  McDowell,  Alejandro González Iñárritu and Helen Mirren. The event raised a cool $500,000 for the Help Refugees non-profit organization.

Nathalie Dubois, DPA Events

And for celebs, the red carpet treatment doesn’t end at their movie premiere or the latest gala. They are pampered and cared for throughout the festival. One such event that caters to the stars is the DPA gifting suite hosted by Nathalie Dubois. Movie stars were invited to her showroom and gifting suite to receive a wide range of swag. This year the suite showcased a number of entrepreneurs who used the chance to talk with celebs about their products and to get their brands exposed to media and on a global level. Celebs shed a few inches courtesy of the revolutionary body shaping technology, Sculpt iD and a treatment valued at $3000.  

Bill Murray with Sheer Necessity creator, Kimberly Jeppson

After his press junket, Bill Murray hung out at the suite goofing it up and was delighted with an innovated new coffee face and body scrub, Sheer Necessity.  Jim Jarmuch, director of the opening film the dead don’t die received a luxury vacation stay in Tuscany’s uber-exclusive wine resort Castello Banfi Ill Borgo while French star Franck Dubosc will vacation at the Mount Lofty House in Adelaide Australia; all courtesy of the new luxury travel company, Beau Monde Traveler.  Celebs received other incredible swag such as the Luxury Spiritual perfume valued at $900 as well as the bespoke hand-made leather accessories from Keiichiro of Japan.

Jim Jarmuch, Courtesy of Beau Monde Traveler

Most of the big galas and events at Cannes are for the highest echelon of the movie industry or for the uber well-connected. However, those without access can still manage to have a lot of fun at Cannes at events that are open as well as regular party places.   The beach clubs along the Croisette are a great way to spend an Aperol spritz filled afternoon especially at Nikki Beach. Once a year their pop up venue is the hottest place in town where the drinks are flowing, the energy is through the roof with pulsating music, and an uber sexy crowd.

As the sun goes down, Cannes kicks into high gear with parties all over town. The clubs are throbbing and bring in the hottest DJs from around the world. Baoli was the place to be for the after parties until dawn with top DJs like Black Coffee who put on a party not soon to be forgotten.

Image Courtesy of the Cannes Festival de Film

Cannes is an event that never goes out of style. Each year there is a newest mega hit film, hot new starlet to idolize, and assuredly a touch of controversy in some form or fashion. The Cannes Festival de Film is quintessentially the most glamorous place on the planet for those ten days in May and the mecca for jet setters as well as film aficionados.   

Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 105 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)

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