The Palais is now home to the homeless. An occasional dog walker strolls the deserted Croisette. Once jammed restaurants on Rue St. Antoine are locked, as is the Hotel Du Cap.
Cannes would normally be prepping frantically for its Film Festival May 12, but its delay and the subsequent lock down has slammed this once affluent and bustling mecca. “We are both festless and feckless,” grieves Burton Gintell, an American entertainment executive who has lived in Cannes for twenty years.
Residents are accustomed to spotting celebrities as they wait on the red carpet at this time of year. Instead, they must apply on line for a ‘an ‘attestation’, permitting them to stroll one kilometer outdoors for recreation or grocery shopping. Cannes’ famously officious cops check their papers now and then. enforcing the rules. Driving is limited because many gas stations are shut.
“This no longer a mirthful town,” said Gintell, whose British wife, Jackie Pressman-Gintell, is a top realtor. “Those people who rented lavish homes for the duration of the Festival are looking for refunds.” Even the Hotel Du Cap stands empty, devoid of its lavish parties linked to the Festival and its stars.
A movie buff and a gourmet, Gintell and his wife are confined to their home for meals and entertainment. “I used to complain about all the street construction in Cannes and the chaotic traffic, until the streets suddenly became empty,“ he said. The Cannes Film Festival is just one of many events that normally dominate the schedule – conventions for television, advertising and many other fields.
Leaders of the Film Festival equivocated for weeks about a possible delay before finally throwing up their hands and agreeing to a later date, still undesignated.. Their last cancellation took place amid the fierce political protests of 1968. Pierre Lescure, the Fest President, found himself caught in a media crossfire last week over reports that he had hastily rejected an insurance policy that would have protected the festival from financial losses. Lescure, a former chief of Canal Plus, countered critics by disclosing that the policy would only have covered one tenth of the festivals $36 million budget.
Cancellation of the festival this year puts new pressure on the fall fests at Venice and Toronto, leaving indie filmmakers to scramble for screening dates. The Telluride Festival also poses an opportunity for
producers to show their wares, but that event is more a showcase rather than a market.