CANNES — It was an emotional evening at the opening-night ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, with the biggest stunner a surprise appearance from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky appearing via live feed from his bunker in Kyiv.
Audible gasps went up in the Lumiere Theater when he appeared on screen to give a powerful eight-minute speech to the rapt audience, including jurors Rebecca Hall and Noomi Rapace, urging the audience to speak up and take action: “Cinema should not be silent.” He received a standing ovation.
Jury president Vincent Lindon also gave a poignant speech as he addressed the role of the world’s biggest film festival in these troubled times. “Should we use our notoriety, however modest it may be, to speak for the voiceless?” Lindon, who won the best actor prize in Cannes in 2015 as an unemployed factory worker in “Measure of a Man,” invoked not only people but the environmental degradation of the planet, and said that cinema is “a weapon of massive emotion to awaken consciences.”
Yet the mood outside was celebratory as the red carpet returned to form for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic put a hold on activities for two years.
Color made a comeback, with juror Hall in an orange and pink starburst of a Gucci gown, while Bérénice Bejo wore a bright jumpsuit from the Valentino Pink PP collection and jewels from Boucheron. Bejo signed autographs and took photos with fans ahead of the premiere of her film “Final Cut” from Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius, who was clad in Dior.
Dior also dressed juror Rapace in a white silk crepe gown and Italian actress Valeria Golino, who is the president of the Un Certain Regard jury, in a blue cape gown from Maria Grazia Chiuri. Lindon and fellow juror Ladj Ly were in men’s looks from Kim Jones.
Julianne Moore kept it simple in a black Bottega Veneta ballgown. With a low-cut cleavage, all eyes were on her stunning Bulgari emerald and diamond necklace.
“No Time to Die” star Lashana Lynch opted for a crisp Fendi Couture column in white, while Lori Harvey wore pale yellow layers from Alexandre Vauthier.
L’Oréal spokespeople Eva Longoria and Katherine Langford made appearances to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beauty brand’s sponsorship, with Longoria in a black chiffon slipdress from Alberta Ferretti and Langford in a sparkly silver number from Prada.
French actress Agathe Rousselle, who starred in last year’s Palme d’Or winner “Titane,” was clad in Louis Vuitton. She wore a custom-made cape gown with a beaded bodice, as well as accessories from the high jewelry collection.
Saint Laurent made a showing, with ceremony host Virginie Efira wearing a beaded column on stage to introduce the jury and present Forest Whitaker with a special career honor.
Efira deftly hosted the show, which recreated the two-toned red carpet against a backdrop of the Cannes skyline and starry Esterel Mountains, through all the emotional notes, including a piano sing-a-long with French star Vincent Delerm. They asked the audience to join as they sang “Je t’aime.” Love — and peace — was in the air.