Wednesday 1 June 2016

Photo Essay: They had Stars in their Eyes ~ 69th Cannes Film Festival

Enjoying the buzz of Cannes: a pair of entrepreneurial festival goers hold up placards for tickets to the film premiere of The Neon Demon by Nicolas Winding Refn. Cover picture and all images below by Elli Ioannou
Artist and photographer Elli Ioannou captures the spontaneous joy and celebration at this year's Cannes Film Festival along with the more prosaic moments waiting behind the scenes

Photographers & locals crane to see the stars
THE sparkling water of the Côte d'Azur, the music floating from party-fuelled yachts, the glamour of arriving film stars and the festive, expectant air surrounding the launch of new films plus the frenetic deal-making for upcoming ones, all create a potent and fizzy atmosphere that keeps the Festival de Cannes buzzing for eleven glorious spring days in May. The film screenings and market where production companies set up their stands are all housed in the Palais des Festivals overlooking the blue sweep of the bay. The occasional downpour does little to dampen the spirits of festival goers as the cinematic crowd meet up with old friends and make new ones.

Limousines disgorge actors on to the red carpet
The town's famous hotels like the Carlton, Martinez and Majestic are strung like ornate pearls along the Croisette and look out over Cannes' golden curving beach that sweeps past the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals and then around the rocky base of the steep, sleepy streets leading up to the original 15th Century old town. Traditionally a festival for independent art house cinema, Cannes also provides another stage for film stars to saunter along the international red carpet. Film students and fans crowd around the entrance to the Palais des Festivals hoping for a glimpse of their favourite actors and hustling for last minute tickets to film screenings.

Yolanda Ross: "Which way for the red carpet?" 
You need to be a film aficionado to recognise many of the film directors, cinematographers, producers, sound and costume designers who crowd the Croisette or exclusive night clubs like David Lynch’s cool Silencio and the fashion parties at the Hotel Majestic where the façade of the building is lit up with projections of scenes from the films in competition at Cannes. 
David Lynch's cool Silencio club in Cannes 
But both the press and the public at Cannes are star hungry and when anyone in a tuxedo or a long slinky dress exits a limousine or the Ritz Carlton, banks of cameras begin flashing. The actors, directors and producers make a leisurely walk along the red swathe of carpet encased by a phalanx of photographers, (Quentin Tarantino made a memorable dance all the way along it in 2014) that leads up to the Palais des Festivals where the films will be screened. When they reach the top of the stairs, the stars turn and make a final photo call before disappearing into the screening.

Climbing ladders to the stars
It's also a tradition in this pretty seaside town for locals and visitors alike to line up overnight with their ladders and portable seats so they get a prime position for a first glimpse of the actors walking up the red carpet. A buzz of excited conversation and layers of ladders and garden chairs form small communities around the pathways leading the actors up to the broad entrance of the Palais des Festivals. Everyone is in a festive mood. And why not? When in Cannes, it feels like you can.

For the complete list of who won what, visit:

Click on photographs for full-screen slideshow
On the way to the festival's daytime film screenings

Evening dress in the mid-afternoon is common attire at Cannes 
Layers of ladders ready for their owners to take up position when the red carpet arrivals begin
French gendarmes are happy to help the evening-gowned actor/director Yolanda Ross find her way back to the red carpet 
Taking care of business is the second most important thing at Cannes
"Is my skirt on back to front?" ~ Another evening dress dilemma on a sunny afternoon
Dressed for comfort if not style at the market place where you can meet producers & film distributors from all over the world.
Gathered outside Chanel to watch the passing parade

Cannes' signature blue skies and palm trees always add a sparkle to the film deals happening at the festival's market
By the end of the Cannes Film Festival, the red carpets look like they have had a lot of traffic in eleven days
Dog day afternoon: last photographs as the cleaners move in at the end of the festival

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