CANNES DIARY: Behind the scenes of the 2024 film festival

CANNES, France — Welcome to Cannes. The annual film festival is always a spectacle, but 2024’s edition may be the most combustible in years. The 77th Cannes red carpet unfurls against a backdrop of war and protest. The #MeToo movement, so slow to take root in France, is now quickly tearing through the country’s film industry. Festival workers have threatened to strike.

And yet, the usual cavalcade of celebrities and filmmakers from around the world are descending upon the French Riviera over the course of two weeks. And so is The Associated Press. This year, we’re keeping a running diary of life at — and in — Cannes. Follow along for an insider’s view from the festival.

Opening day in Cannes is relatively calm and straightforward, as far as Cannes days go. Just one movie premieres. Under gloomy skies, Cannes kicked off with “The Second Act,” a French comedy about a group of actors filming a movie directed by artificial intelligence. Meryl Streep was given an honorary Palme d’Or. And the jury headed by Greta Gerwig was introduced.

— Cannes opening ceremonies are brief but singularly surreal. After a clip reel, Gerwig was serenaded with David Bowie’s “Modern Love” by Zaho de Sagazan, an homage to Gerwig’s “Frances Ha.” As the singer made her way from the audience to the stage, Gerwig seemed to be choking back both laughter and tears.

— Last year’s Cannes is talked about with hushed tones because of how good it was — for the terrific lineup and for the post-Cannes success of some films. That made Messi, the dog from last year’s Palme winner “Anatomy of a Fall,” an especially welcome presence on the red carpet. The border collie, who’s been enlisted to shoot daily videos for French TV, frolicked up and down the carpet ahead of the opening ceremony. Cannes has strict rules about formal attire — women without heels were once turned away. But Messi went bare paws.

— It’s been just over two months since the Oscars, but Gerwig wasn’t the only one stepping back into the spotlight. A fellow juror is best actress nomineeLily Gladstone, who said of the Cannes invite: “I thought I just got over my imposter syndrome last year.”

NOTABLE NUMBER: Zero. The amount of times Messi soiled the red carpet.

LA CITATION DU JOUR: “My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ‘Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast.’ And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long.” — Meryl Streep

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