Cannes Spent Over $1 Million To Keep The Festival Covid-Free

A deadly worldwide pandemic? Not so chic.

Cannes Film Festival COVID Testing Pandemic 2021
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

The Cannes Film Festival is the epitome of glamour and prestige. The festival’s famed red carpet is where actors, their daughters, super models, and beautiful people in general turn out their most opulent looks for a throng of international photographers and admirers. A vintage Dior New Look throwback moment? Totally chic. Dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever? Not chic at all. According to Variety, the CFF spent a lot of money to ensure that the pandemic didn’t crash the party — to the tune of over $1 million for the two-week affair.

The festival “fronted more than $1 million to cover the costs of regular, free COVID testing to approximately 28,000 attendees,” reported Variety. Vaccinated attendees did not have to undergo testing if they provided proof of having received the shot, but this applied to European Union citizens only — Americans and newly-Brexited Brits still had to submit for swabs. The money seems to have been well-spent: there were no major COVID outbreaks, despite the Delta variant taking hold in France.

Thierry Frémaux, the CFF’s artistic director lauded the festival’s safety procedures. “It was a wonderful festival and an exceptional one as well,” he told Variety. “We managed to pull it through at the right time and in conditions that were almost normal thanks to a protocol that was intelligent and responsible.” Of the festival’s many standing ovations, distrubution deals, and overall interest in the films, he said that he “had not imagined that the reunion would be so sumptuous.”

Still, French actress Lea Seydoux was unable to attend Cannes after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 14. Seydoux appeared in four films that premiered at the festival: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, The Story of My Wife by Ildiko Enyedi, France by Bruno Dumont, and Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception. Seydoux was vaccinated and did not report any serious symptoms of the illness.