Despite the Ukraine crisis, big celebrations await celebs at this year’s Cannes

    Cannes, France: The Cannes Film Festival is gearing up for a bumper 75th anniversary edition with a selection of Hollywood’s biggest names, raucous newcomers and past Palme d’Or winners—a fantastic comeback even as the conflict in Ukraine approaches the festivities.

    “I honestly think this is one of the best combos I’ve had in years,” Scott Roxborough, head of the European Bureau for The Hollywood Reporter, told The Hollywood Reporter.

    The festival runs from May 17-28, resuming its traditional calendar after two years of pandemic disruption. It was canceled in 2020, and moved last year to July, when it was held under strict COVID protocols.

    This year, the parties are back and will include Hollywood luminaries Tom Cruise’s Top Gun Maverick – bringing the star to Cannes for the first time in three decades – as well as Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks.

    Tom Cruise’s Top Gun Maverick will premiere at Cannes before it hits theaters on May 27.

    “It’s a tradition to have our American friends – let’s not forget that the Festival de Cannes, in 1939 and 1946, was jointly built, co-invented by France and Hollywood,” festival director Thierry Frémaux told a press conference.

    Actor Forest Whitaker is on hand to receive the festival’s honorary award for lifetime achievement, and David Cronenberg will celebrate his return to horror films with Crimes of the Future, featuring Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux.

    Actor Forest Whitaker, who will receive the festival’s honorary Palme d’Or for lifetime achievement, poses in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Pictures: Facebook

    Asia will see a strong showing, despite the absence of China, with the films Park Chan-wook and Hirokazu Kore-eda in competition, and “Squid Game” actor Lee Jung-jae showing off his new movie “Hunt.”

    “Everyone kind of wants to come back in this moment, kind of re-awaken the cinema here in Cannes,” Roxboro said. The festival opens Tuesday with a zombie film Final Cut by French director Michel Hazanavicius, who changed the title from “Z, like Z” to remove a reference to the character that has become associated with the war in Ukraine.

    The festival banned official Russian delegations from the event, but it will screen the film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” by exiled Russian director Kirill Serebnikov, who spoke frankly about the war.

    It will also feature “Mariopolis 2” by Lithuanian director Mantas Kvidaravicius, 45, who was killed in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that was heavily bombed by Russian forces, nearly a month ago while working on the film. His fiancée Hanna Bilobrova, who finished the project, will present it.

    Another Ukrainian Entry is Maksim Nakonechnyi’s debut film, “Butterfly Vision”, the story of a young Ukrainian woman who returns home after being arrested and then released in a prisoner exchange.

    “We will think a lot about the film, but we will never stop thinking about what is happening in Ukraine either,” said Frémaux, filled with questions about the festival’s stance on the war.