“We need a new Chaplin who will prove that cinema is not silent” in the face of war. The Cannes Film Festival immediately gave a political tone to its 75th edition by offering a platform, from kyiv, to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The surprise appearance of the face of the Ukrainian president, in fatigues, on the screen of the Palais des Festivals, was followed by a long ovation by the gratin of world cinema, gathered for the opening ceremony of a festival which promised that the war would be “on everyone’s mind”.

“We will continue to fight, we have no other choice (…) I am sure that the dictator will lose,” Volodymyr Zelensky continued, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Charlie Chaplin’s film , which he quoted several times. In Ukraine, “hundreds of people are dying every day. They are not going to get up after the end clap. (…) Will the cinema shut up, or will it talk about it? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, again, everything depends on our unity. So can cinema stay out of this unity? “, he still launched.

This intervention writes a new page in the long political history of the Festival, founded in 1939 to oppose the Venice Film Festival of fascist Italy, but whose first edition, due to world war, could only be held in 1946. “The Festival has never ceased to welcome, protect and bring together the greatest filmmakers of their time”, underlined before the president of the jury, Vincent Lindon, recalling the “artistic and civic line” of this event global. “Can we do anything other than use cinema, this weapon of massive emotion, to awaken consciences and shake up indifference? I can’t imagine it! “, he launched.

In addition to the banishment of official Russian delegations, announced after the invasion, the official selection also bears the shadow of war this year. Starting with the film that will open the competition on Wednesday, Tchaikovsky’s Wife, by Russian dissident Kirill Serebrennikov. Seeing this filmmaker, selected three times, for the first time on the steps will be a strong symbol. Later in the festival will also be shown films by Ukrainians Sergei Loznitsa or Maksim Nakonechnyi, as well as the latest film by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, killed in early April in Ukraine, Mariupolis 2.

Despite the context, at Cannes, “the show must go on”: actors Julianne Moore, who plays in Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut (The Social Network) and Forest Whitaker ensured the glamor quota, the latter receiving a Honorary Palme d’Or for his career. At 60, the actor with a career marked by an Oscar for his interpretation of Amin Dada, the Ugandan dictator, in The Last King of Scotland (2007), or his role as a killer with Jim Jarmusch in Ghost Dog (1999 ), is a regular on the Croisette, where he won an interpretation prize in 1988 for Clint Eastwood’s Bird.

This award “changed my life, it allowed me to be recognized as an artist and to be respected as an actor all around the world. I was really a kid at the time [26 years old], in that I was not used to interviews and I did not know what to answer. I remember the day before the awards ceremony, I was in my room in Cannes with my brother and he said to me: Imagine it’s you tomorrow. I said to him: Are you serious? “, he remembered.

The atmosphere then changed radically, with the opening screening of Coupez!, by Michel Hazanavicius, a crazy parody of zombie films and a declaration of love for all films – even the most failed. The film, which hits theaters simultaneously, should act as an outlet for a world of cinema trying to recover from the pandemic: Cut! “is joyful, it highlights the people of cinema, and I hope it makes you want to do it,” the French director told Agence France Presse, “very happy” to return to Cannes as the opening .