A dog walks nervously on the terrace of the press room located at the front facade of the Palais des Festivals. Without stopping, at a trot, he sniffs between the legs and the chairs of the journalists, and quickly returns to the side of a Marseille firefighter, who these days works in Cannes. It is one of two dogs trained to detect the coronavirus. If before the danger was explosives – and there have been years when the contest lived almost in a state of siege, with military tanks in the streets and security forces with machine guns in hand on every corner -, in this edition fear is caused by an enemy invisible. And after a week of some relaxation at the festival, in its final stretch, after a call to order from the mayor of the city, David Lisnard, and the subsequent speech Monday night by President Emmanuel Macron, the organization has tightened the nuts.
From the beginning, all those accredited have been required to pass an antigen test every 48 hours or to carry a document that certifies the complete vaccination schedule, except in the case of Americans, who are not recognized as valid. their vaccinations. In the field hospital built where the international film market town used to be (an event this year completely lackluster), prior reservation online, the tests are carried out efficiently. Six hours later, the result reaches the mobile. Every day about 5,000 tests are carried out, and on average there are three positives per day. On Saturday, in a talk with EL PAÍS, Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the festival, showed his happiness because on Friday there had not been “not even a positive”. And he faced “calm” this second week of the contest.
The few positives are confined to their lodgings, although there is no trace of their previous steps. For the first time, the contest requires that the tickets be taken out to the theaters 48 hours before via telematics, but they are not numbered (as did the San Sebastián festival, another class A contest like the French one, last September) and you can’t tell who the positive has sat with. Among those positives there are Spanish accredited from the film industry, who have complied with the isolation.
More confusing has been what happened with the filmmakers. The Israeli Nadav Lapid presented his film last Thursday Ha’berech, at a press conference in which she did not wear a mask, after having gone through the red carpet and enjoying her gala session the day before. In the afternoon, his girlfriend tested positive for covid-19, and although the filmmaker passed the test, he secluded himself and continued his promotion using Zoom. The Spanish Clara Roquet, director of Liberty, present at Critics’ Week, he did not arrive from Barcelona to the premiere of his film on La Croisette due to the coronavirus, but after the relevant negative PCR, he has been able to attend other screenings of his film.
Actress Léa Seydoux, who appears in up to four films at the competition this year, is in Paris in quarantine after testing positive, unable to travel to Cannes, according to Variety, and you have just confirmed that you are canceling your trip to the contest. Seydoux – who was already vaccinated and is asymptomatic – was filming One Fine Morning, the new film by filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, who has visited the contest to present their previous work, Bergman’s Island, Without anyone having explained if they had close contact and why the director has traveled without quarantining. That day, Sunday, the general secretary of the festival, Francois Desrousseaux, assured the local press that the maximum number of infections that had been registered per day had been six.
Since the weekend, the contest has increased notices: Before the screenings, since Monday, a warning is heard that recalls the prohibition of lowering the masks during the sessions, something that continues to happen, especially among older critics and journalists, who put it only in their mouths. At press conferences, after seven days of some laxity, the filmmakers now finally sit down with masks, only getting off to answer questions. And the moderators insist on the same behavior to the press, after those first days in which there were discussions between reporters who did wear it and others who wore them on their chins. There is no disinfection neither in cinemas, nor in press rooms, nor is there – nor is it required – any safety distance between journalists or spectators.
The biggest problem, however, is outside the Palais, in the crowded queues to enter the venue (the complete vaccination schedule or the negative test is checked one by one with QR code readers) or to the rooms whose access leads directly to the street, and therefore are outside the sanitary regulations. On Monday, President Macron announced a tightening of sanitary measures, such as the requirement of the vaccination passport to enter bars, discos or restaurants, for trips by train and plane, or to attend to acts or events of more than 50 people; that is, cinemas and theaters. The order will go into effect on Wednesday, July 21, four days after the festival closes, which would only have had to change its policy of access to outdoor venues.
As for the red carpet, a mine of advertising revenue, photographers do wear masks. Not the stars, and many continue to sign autographs or take pictures with the public, such as Timothée Chalamet (who enjoyed with his fans at the entrance to the gala of The French Chronicle). Adam Driver even lit a cigarette and smoked during the applause after the screening of Annette, by Leos Carax, at the opening in the Lumière room. The following day, Pierre Lescure, president of the festival, assured that this gesture and other similar ones portrayed in photos with people without the mask were “an exception”.
Even in social networks there are photos of stars smoking and drinking without masks in closed venues, or watching the final of the Eurocup, like Spike Lee, president of the jury, after the gala dinner – in the open air – that closed the Women in conference. Motion. At least he was alone, because from that same evening there were numerous portraits of groups of a dozen people watching football on a single mobile.
And yet, the festival seems more controlled than what happens in the adjacent streets, where the usual zero distance between table and table is maintained in restaurants, people sing and dance in discos and karaoke bars indoors, or crowd the streets. sidewalks on the hunt for some famous. Of course, the hordes of people milling around the entrances to the Palais asking for invitations to movies have disappeared – more because of digital sales than because of the covid. In the interviews in the hotels that plague the Croisette, the use of the mask depends on the will of the interviewee. There they no longer shake hands, but otherwise, who remembers the pandemic?