Much anticipated Cannes Film Fest still missing the festival vibe

Published on : Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Two days before the start of the much delayed, and anticipated, Cannes Film Festival, the town awoke to a rainy, muggy Sunday with little action on the ground. And while the skies cleared later in the day, it remained difficult to discern the festival vibe. Apart from at the Palais proper, there’s no sign of the promotions we’re used to seeing here. That goes for posters adorning hotels or piers for any film, regardless of provenance.

The under-refurbishment Carlton Hotel is closed, and part of the front of the JW Marriott, which has undergone its own refurb recently and is welcoming guests, is still partly a construction site. There is a shiny new entrance for the hotel proper that finally should do away with fest veterans continuing to refer to it as the “Noga Hilton” (mea culpa). But, still, no mega Cannes Film Festival thrust.

Indeed, the only visible signs that Cannes is happening are at the Palais, where Jury President Spike Lee is seen on the official poster. Workers have been milling about, and the red carpet likely will appear tomorrow.

Driving in this morning, the roads were clear and the Croisette quiet; foot traffic this afternoon grew, but as the weather had been inclement, it was difficult to gauge the number of tourists in town — the beaches initially were empty, but when the sun appeared, so did the bodies.

One shop worker on the Rue d’Antibes told me that business has in fact been bustling since Covid measures eased, and another local said there’s been a great number of visitors from Paris and European countries descending upon the city in recent weeks. No one I spoke with feels particularly concerned about risks associated with people arriving from far away for the festival. One certainly gets the sense the town needs a boost as there are many boarded-up storefronts.

France has lifted most of its Covid restrictions, but there are increased cases of the Delta variant in the neighbouring Var département down here, where some restrictions remain in place until July 16 at least.

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