Goodbye boomers? For its 75th edition and while the cinema has been plunged into crisis since the pandemic, the event is seeking, by all means, to conquer new audiences.
Will the most followed tiktokeur in Europe, Khaby Lame, eclipse Tom Cruise? For his 75e edition, the Cannes Film Festival, a venerable meeting place for world cinema, has embarked on a frantic quest for a new lease of life. This year, the Festival has dumped its historic partnership with Canal+, an emblematic cinema channel in the 1980s and 1990s, which notably broadcast the opening and closing ceremonies. Instead: a surprising coupling between public service (France Télévisions) and Brut, which should make it possible to address, in particular, the younger generations. This video medium founded five years ago (by Renaud Le Van Kim, a former Canal+ employee), focused on short formats, is also present in India, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire and Japan. It claims 500 million spectators in more than 100 countries, mainly among 18-34 year olds.
Quite a symbol, at a time when cinema in theaters is getting old, suffering the brunt of competition from series and streaming. Many young people only go to theaters for superhero, Marvel or DC Comics films. However, “the themes addressed (in the films of) Cannes resonate a lot with young people around the world”, explains to AFP the boss of Brut, Guillaume Lacroix, who sees in the partnership the means of making the festival “even more inclusive generationally, and in terms of diversity”.
Several schemes are already helping to bring young shoots to life, such as the Cinéfondation or La Fabrique Cinéma, and the Festival has just refocused the Un Certain Regard selection on new talent.
“Evolve or die”
A year after the rejuvenation offered by the Palme d’Or by rewarding a thirty-year-old, Julia Ducournau, for Titanium the competition welcomes veterans like David Cronenberg (79 years old) or the Dardenne brothers (68 and 71 years old), but also several «juniors», like Lukas Dhont, 30, or Saeed Roustaee, 32. Like the world of cinema as a whole, on the image side, Cannes “needs to reach a new generation and modernize”, judge Julien Pillot, teacher-researcher in economics at Inseec.
The red carpet, where there is a strict dress code considered by some to be anachronistic (heels for women, bow ties for men), has it become «has been» ? “Alongside a Tom Cruise who will talk to the ‘boomers’ (baby-boom generations, editor’s note), there is a whole generation of super glamorous actors in Cannes, hyper followed on social networks” and next to which the new media do not want to pass, underlines Julien Pillot.
A favorite social network for teens and paradise for ultra-short videos, TikTok, also a new official partner, will broadcast the rise of the stairs every day, while Instagram will take advantage of the Cannes buzz to highlight some of its influencers – unrelated elsewhere with the seventh art. And, consecration, a “TikTok jury”, where Khaby Lame, 100 million subscribers, will sit between videos of 30 seconds to 3 minutes for an official prize, awarded on May 20 from the hands of the general delegate, Thierry Frémaux.
“And Michel Hazanavicius or Martin Scorsese were 16 today, they wouldn’t be doing Super-8 but would be using their phones to create content, tell stories,” details Guillaume Lacroix, who ensures that Brut allows Cannes to be present “wherever are” the younger generations. Its media will even transpose the venues of the Festival and the Croisette into the “metaverse” (virtual world) of Fortnite, one of the most popular video games in the world which claims nearly 200 million users. In the costume of a journalist, actor or director, players will have access to various quests: “carry out interviews”, “pass a casting” or “participate in the ascent of the steps”… Faced with these all-out initiatives, “people will laugh, criticize”, predicts Julien Pillot. Before concluding : “But the cinema must evolve with the times, so as not to die.