2017 Cannes Film Festival Combines Film, Fashion & Technology
For 70 years, the Cannes Film Festival has been a celebration of the cinematic arts. As someone who grew up in a film industry family amid the bright lights of Hollywood, got my Screen Actors Guild card before my tenth birthday, and paid my way through university and graduate education working in the entertainment industry, I have deep admiration for the artists, technicians, and filmmakers who create excellence in cinema.
The event has long captured my imagination, and I’ve been a regular attendee. This year, I was especially eager to see some of the top contenders, including Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled and Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute. Cannes 2017 was especially intriguing as the big buzz centered on the collision of tradition and technology. Streaming service Netflix had two films in competition for the Palme d’Or—Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories—which had not been exhibited in theaters before the event and would go straight to the small screen.
Traditionalists, like members of the National Federation of French Cinemas, protested the inclusion of the films in the festival because they did not open in theaters, while others believe made-for-streaming films are the way of the future. The controversy led the committee to decide that, in future years, filmmakers must commit to exhibiting films in French cinemas before they compete at the festival.
While the submissions from Netflix were among the strongest English-language films at Cannes, and undoubtedly excellent, I was most excited for the screening of 120 Beats Per Minute. Director Robin Campillo drew from his own experience as a member of ACT UP, a Parisian AIDS activist group in the 1990s, to create this film about the turmoil and missteps that happened at the height of the AIDS crisis. It’s a topic that hits close to home for me as someone who has been involved with AIDS research and treatment for many years.
My philanthropic organization, The Manzanita Foundation, has supported HIV/ AIDS research, treatment and prevention since 2005. And I have served as a volunteer physician working with AIDS patients in developing countries for even longer. I’m especially proud that Manzanita has been able to support the excellent work of organizations like the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and amfAR, which as has invested $450 million toward AIDS research around the globe, and provided more than 3,300 research grants.
A personal highlight for me this year was attending the 24th annual amfAR Gala in Cap d’Antibes, at the acclaimed Hotel Du Cap, on behalf of the Manzanita Foundation. The star-studded event raised over $190 million for HIV/AIDS research programs and awareness.
Of course, Cannes is about more than just the films. It’s also a flurry of high fashion, jewelry, and a unique opportunity to attend events alongside incredible artists, directors, actors, and musicians, including the stunning afternoon rooftop event Chopard, the world-class artisans that craft the Palme d’Or each year, which they embellished with diamonds for this year’s 70th anniversary festival. I was also thrilled to attend a cocktail party and concert hosted by De Grisogono, with a live performance by Rita Ora. I’ve been a collector of their exquisite pieces for many years, and their event at Hotel du Cap was as memorable as always.