Cannes 2022 Video #1: Opening Night Welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Final Cut | Chaz at Cannes

The opening ceremony was one of the most interesting in recent memory. It featured a moving, live-streamed message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talking about the importance of art in fighting for justice and freedom. Roger and I used to talk about whether movies were important during times of war and civil unrest. But we came to the conclusion that movies are an empathy machine that help us understand each other – a belief that Zelensky also expressed. He referenced Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” by saying, “We need a new Chaplin, someone who in our time will say cinema will not be silent.” The official opening of the festival was presented by Julianne Moore, and before it was all over, Forest Whitaker received a lifetime achievement Palme d’Or. 

I recall what an intelligent and humble individual he was when I interviewed him in 2011 at the Marakech International Film Festival. This year, my question to him was about the producing part of career. But while his accomplishments in the film business are legendary, I’ve been most impressed by his work with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative that he started in 2012, and has gone on to help humanity in Mexico, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and the United States. 

Capping off the opening night festivities was a film by Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius entitled “Coupez” or “Final Cut”. It’s about a French film crew filming a zombie movie that takes a sudden turn when real zombies apparently begin attacking the cast and crew. They’re calling this film a zom-bed-ie…a zombie comedy. And it was a little too broad for my taste, and a little too clever by half. But many in the audience really seemed to enjoy the third act.

“Final Cut” is playing out of competition as are a few other notable titles this year including “Top Gun: Maverick” and Baz Luhrman’s “Elvis.” But for us, the competition films generally offer the most interest. Some of the most anticipated films in competition this year include: “Stars at Noon”, directed by Claire Denis; “Decision to Leave” from Park Chan-Wook; “Showing Up” from Kelly Reichardt and starring Michelle Williams; and two new films directed by recent Palme d’Or winners: “Broker”, by Hirokazu Kore-eda; and “Triangle of Sadness” from Ruben Ostlund.

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