Documentary makers and environmental activists including British teenager Bella Lack on Sunday said they hoped to inspire more efforts on climate change, including through several films with hopeful messages presented at the Cannes Film Festival.
The world’s biggest cinema showcase is back after a 2020 hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has this year highlighted productions with an environmental focus in a special selection.
The festival, which has attracted people from around the world, including big hitting Hollywood stars like Adam Driver and Matt Damon, has also tried to cut back on waste, using some hybrid or electric cars to shuttle people around and replacing its red carpet, which it used to change three times a day, with recycle-friendly material, organisers said.
The world of film could also be an example in other ways, said 18-year-old activist Lack, who appears in Animal along with chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall, in a documentary by Cyril Dion shown at the festival.
“People believe that all young people are terrified and motivated by fear... I’ve actually been motivated by hope and by imagination,” Lack told a news conference. “That’s what the cinema industry and Cannes can act as, as a vehicle to catalyse the imagination of adults.” Other films being presented include Bigger Than Us, produced by Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard and which features young campaigners from Indonesia to Malawi.
Director Flore Vasseur said the activists had pressured the crew to take steps such as cutting out plastic on set.
“This industry does not have an extraordinary track record on this issue,” Vasseur said. “We’re all on a learning curve, we’re all looking for solutions.” The green selection also included French actor and director Louis Garrel’s The Crusade, a fictional comedy about children who sell their parents’ jewellery in their quest to save the planet.
Catherine Deneuve, who has walked the red carpet at Cannes since the 1960s, said on Sunday she had never been as moved as this year to return to the film festival after the coronavirus pandemic and her stroke in 2019.
The 77-year-old is a pillar of French cinema and still appears in multiple movies. Wearing a black velvet dress and a chunky gold necklace, Deneuve returned to Cannes on Saturday for the premiere of Peaceful by French director Emmanuelle Bercot, which is being presented out of the main competition.
Deneuve and the crew received a standing ovation, visibly moving the actress. She has appeared infrequently in public after the pandemic forced fashion shows to shift online and Cannes festival organisers to cancel the 2020 edition.
“It was absolutely extraordinary. Until the last minute, we were wondering if it could really take place,” Deneuve told a press conference for the film.
“I’ve known Cannes for such a long time. Each time it’s something very different. But I think maybe I was never as moved as I was yesterday evening, when I entered the theatre and seeing the way the public welcomed the film and myself.” Deneuve was hospitalised in November 2019 in Paris after suffering what her family said at the time was a “limited” stroke.
Asked about tackling Peaceful — in which a young man is struck by illness and has to grapple with the prospect of dying along with his mother, played by Deneuve — the actress said the last year of pandemic and her own health scare had affected her.
“A lot of things happened to me during a time that has been quite remarkable,” Deneuve said.
Originally published in Dawn, July 12th, 2021