Under the new plan, critics and journalists will see films in the Debussy theater at the same time that guests inside the main auditorium watch the evening world premieres, according to an interview with artistic director Fremaux in French trade publication Le Film Francais. The change was made to boost the prestige and weight of gala premieres.
Cannes, which is celebrating its 71st edition in May, has always been notorious for the tough critics whose early reviews can make or break a film’s prospects even before its gala unveiling in the Palais. The practice has turned off some filmmakers and studios who favor fall festivals such as Venice and Toronto, where reviewers are believed to be milder.
Fremaux said that the idea behind eliminating morning press screenings was to “revamp the attractiveness of and gloss to gala evenings.” “At 7 p.m., the press will see the film at the same time at Debussy. The suspense will be total!” Fremaux told Le Film Francais.
Press screenings for films that world-premiere at 10 p.m. will take place the following morning. Afternoon screenings of films selected in competition or Un Certain Regard will keep mixing professionals, press and other guests.
Fremaux has also tried to curb the practice of selfies on the red carpet, and has now decided to ban them entirely. “On the red carpet, the trivial aspect and the slowing down provoked by the disorder which these selfies create tarnishes the quality of [the red carpet experience] and of the festival as a whole,” he said.
Since taking pictures generally with a phone is not forbidden, it’s unclear how the ban on selfies will be enforced by Cannes staff.
As previously announced, the festival is kicking off a day earlier than in the past, on a Tuesday (May 8), in order to have the closing ceremony take place on a Saturday.
The official selection will be announced on April 12.