In May 1968, Jean-Luc Godard and a few of his French New Wave contemporaries famously brought the Festival de Cannes to a halt, an act of solidarity with striking students and workers who were taking France by storm.
Fifty years later, Godard still looms large at Cannes, quite literally. The official poster for the 71st festival is graced with the immortal image of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina kissing in the director’s 1965 classic, “Pierrot le Fou.” This year, the 87-year-old Godard will likely limit his disruptive gestures to the unveiling of his new movie, “The Image Book,” which promises to shake up the main competition; it’s said to be a characteristically unorthodox reflection on the modern Arab world.
The festival itself, which opened Tuesday night with the world premiere of Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows,” shows no signs of coming to a premature conclusion, though there are some who probably wish it would. In my own previous 12 years of attending, I can’t remember the last time Cannes commenced under such a cloud of grumbling, suspicion and all-around anxiety or any time the festival took such a widespread beating in the media before it even had a chance to roll out its famous (if now selfie-free) red carpet.