Is Cannes film festival losing its charm?

I remember the first time I saw anyone on the Cannes red carpet—it was Aishwarya Rai, and I was seven years old. She looked as gorgeous as ever, and I was completely starstruck. I immediately asked my dad, “Where is she going, looking this beautiful?” He replied, “She is at the Cannes Film Festival, representing our country.” I couldn’t quite grasp what he meant, but it certainly seemed grand and extravagant. As I grew older, I realized what the Cannes Film Festival symbolized—not only were films from different countries celebrated, but diverse cultures and icons were honored too. However, as an avid follower of this magnum opus, I now feel that Cannes is losing its charm. It’s no longer a prestigious symbol to represent one’s country. Instead, it has transformed into more of a fashion exhibition with loud, sometimes horrifying fashion. It seems anybody and everybody can be at Cannes now.

Cannes Film Festival 2024

The Glorious Past of Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, was once a beacon of cinematic excellence. It was a place where movies from around the globe were premiered in various categories, generating excitement about which films would be showcased and which celebrities would grace the red carpet. Cannes was synonymous with elegance, exclusivity, and the celebration of artistic achievements in cinema.

In its heyday, the festival was about the films and the stories they told. The red carpet was an elegant parade of the world's most revered filmmakers and actors. The media and public eagerly awaited the unveiling of cinematic masterpieces, and the fashion on display was sophisticated and chic, serving as a complement to the films rather than overshadowing them.

Cannes Film Festival 2024

The Shift to Fashion and Celebrity

However, in recent years, Cannes has experienced a significant shift. It has become increasingly crowded with celebrities, many of whom attend not to celebrate cinema but to represent global brands. This shift has diluted the festival's original purpose, making it seem more like a fashion show than a film festival.

Cannes Film Festival 2024

The red carpet, once a symbol of cinematic excellence, has become a stage for experimental and often bizarre fashion choices. Celebrities and influencers, many of whom have little to do with the film industry, dominate the headlines with their outlandish outfits. The focus has shifted from the films being premiered to who wore what, reducing Cannes to a mere backdrop for brand promotion and social media buzz.

Rise of Influencers and Brand Ambassadors

The inclusion of content creators and influencers has further contributed to the festival’s diminishing charm. While the democratization of fame and the inclusion of diverse personalities can be positive, it has, in Cannes' case, led to a loss of exclusivity and prestige. Influencers, often more concerned with their brand promotion than with cinema, flock to the festival, making it feel overcrowded and less about films.

Cannes Film Festival 2024

Many attendees now go to Cannes primarily to represent brands rather than to celebrate the art of cinema. This commercialization has transformed the festival from a sanctuary of artistic expression into a platform for marketing and publicity stunts. The essence of Cannes, as a celebration of global cinema, seems to be fading amidst the clamor of commercial interests.

Divided Opinions

The public's perception of Cannes reflects this transformation. While some believe that the festival is losing its charm, others argue that it remains a significant event in the film industry. "It is losing its charm. It was a classy event, and now, it’s just about celebs wearing weird outfits and posing for pictures," said one observer. Another added, "Cannes Film Festival should be about the films being premiered there and not about who is wearing what. Also, yes from actresses to influencers, this year’s Cannes was very crowded. It’s like everyone is there."

On the other hand, some feel that Cannes has always had a fashion element and that the focus on clothing has just become more pronounced. "Wasn't the Cannes Film Festival always like a fashion show? Well, I feel that we never spoke more about the movies there, and it was only about who is wearing what," one person commented.

Cannes Film Festival 2024

The Future of Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival is at a crossroads. It can either continue down its current path, risking further dilution of its original purpose, or it can strive to reclaim its status as a prestigious celebration of global cinema. To do so, it must balance the glamour of the red carpet with a renewed focus on the films and the stories they tell.

Cannes should be a place where filmmakers and actors from around the world come together to celebrate their craft, not merely a playground for fashion and brand promotion. By refocusing on its core values, the festival can regain its lost charm and continue to be a beacon of cinematic excellence for generations to come.

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