CULTURE

Cannes 2019: Portraits of the Stars From the Biggest Films and More

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Victoria Stevens

Every spring, the Cannes Film Festival serves as the official introduction to the biggest movies, best performances, and basically everything we’ll be talking about in film for the rest of the year. Last year’s festival saw the premiere of a wide array of films, from Oscar contenders including BlacKkKlansman to major blockbusters like Solo: A Star Wars Story. The 72nd edition was no different, with Jim Jarmusch’s star-studded zombie film The Dead Don’t Die opening the festival and bringing out stars Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and Adam Driver. It only revved up from there, with a different red carpet each night graced by the film industry’s most celebrated directors, actors, and your fair share of pop stars and models, for good measure. Here, get up close and personal with portraits of some of 2019’s most exciting talents.

1
Bryce Dallas Howard
Victoria Stevens

This year’s edition of Cannes is Bryce Dallas Howard’s favorite so far, largely due to the fact that her new film, the Elton John biopic Rocketman, received a four-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Grand Lumière theater. “It was incredible,” she said the following day. “At the afterparty, Elton performed and Taron duetted with him.” The Taron she’s speaking of is, of course, British rising star Taron Egerton, who plays a young version of the musician. “I’m like [his] mom,” said Howard, who does in fact play John’s mother, Sheila Eileen, in the film. “Every time I see [Egerton], I’m like, ‘How are we doing? How are we feeling?'” Howard attended the festival with a sartorial mission; upon her arrival, she told her Instagram followers she was going to walk the red carpet wearing previously owned items because constantly buying new dresses was no longer “sitting well” with her. “The way it works normally is the studio hires a stylist who helps get clothes loaned, which is amazing, but they’re all sample size from the runway so I always ended up wearing the one thing on the rack I could shimmy myself into,” she explained. “Then I started buying my own clothes, which was a huge relief, but getting a new one every time is not sustainable.” Her mission at the festival has thus far been a success. “Sharing is better,” she concluded.

Bryce Dallas Howard photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

2
Leyna Bloom
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In October 2017, model Leyna Bloom became the first openly transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India. Two years later, she’s repeated the breakthrough at Cannes, becoming the first transgender woman of color to lead a film premiering at the festival. Bloom, who stars in the new drama Port Authority, described the historic moment to journalists as something she’s “dreamed about,” adding: “This moment is a door that has been opened for a lot of people to sit at the table. How do you see something like this? It’s never happened. I just want to take it all in and know that there’s still work to be done.”

Leyla Bloom photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

3
Alejandro González Iñárritu
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“It’s the heartbeat of the whole culture of cinema,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu said on day one of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. He’s been here before, premiering his debut film Amores Perros back in 2000, and with Babel, the Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett drama that scored him the top directing trophy in 2006. This time, though, he’s on the other side of the proceedings as the festival’s first-ever Latin American jury president. Iñárritu will lead a team of eight—including Yorgos Lanthimos and Elle Fanning—in watching 22 films over eight days and ultimately deciding which film is most worthy of the coveted Palme d’Or award. He counts his role as an honor that ranks up there with being just one of a small number of filmmakers to win back-to-back best director Oscars over two consecutive years (for Birdman and The Revenant). Iñárritu is aware of the towering responsibility that comes with the role, even if he admits he finds the whole judging process slightly redundant. “The Palme d’Or can change the life of somebody, so we’ll just have to express truthfully what we feel when we see the films,” he said. “But I do think time will decide what the best film is, not us.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

4
Monia Chokri
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Canadian star Monia Chokri first came to Cannes as an actor in 2010 for Heartbeats, a drama directed by and starring her good friend Xavier Dolan. This year, she returns to the Croisette with her directorial debut A Brother’s Love, which kick-started the 2019 Un Certain Regard section. “I find it pretty empowering,” she said of being at the festival as a woman filmmaker. “When you’re an actor, there’s something about image that is very important, but the fact that people want to talk with me because of my idea and what I have to say makes me feel happy.” While enjoying her time in front of the camera in films such as Ravenous and Dolan’s 2012 film Laurence Anyways, Chokri admits she only puts “ten percent” of herself into these roles, while directing leaves her feeling more wholly fulfilled. She mentions a burning desire “to express something else that’s related to thinking” and that’s certainly something she’s achieved with the new film, which follows a character whose relationship with her brother takes a knock after he meets the near-perfect girl. It took Chokri four years to write the comedy-drama, and it wasn’t until she directed a successful short based on the project that she realized she couldn’t bear the thought of someone else directing her script. So did she hit up frequent collaborator Dolan for advice? “I see that people say, ‘Oh, she’s very inspired by Xavier,’ but it’s a movement. We have the same ideas about the future of cinema and we’re fighting for it.”

Monia Chokri photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

5
Gael García Bernal

Gael García Bernal is a dab hand at navigating Cannes—an unsurprising fact considering he’s been here a grand total of 18 times. “This is the first place that I saw myself on the big screen,” he said of why this particular film festival means so much to him. “I’ve gotten very used to it. I understand how it works and where things are – and even which restaurants are nice to go to get away from things.” This year, he’s here with his new film Chicuarotes, which has received a special out-of-competition screening. It marks the actor’s second film as director after 2007’s Déficit and follows a group of teenagers based in Mexico City who set out to escape a life of poverty and violence. Considering García Bernal’s Cannes background, how is he feeling to be back with a film that this time around he’s made himself? “It feels nice,” he said. “Strangely tranquil!”

Gael García Bernal photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

6
Werner Herzog
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Not many filmmakers can whip up a Cannes reception quite like Werner Herzog. The multi-talented German writer-director-actor has been making his mark on the film industry since the 1960s and has been hailed as one of cinema’s most important voices ever since. For his latest, Family Romance LLC, the filmmaker travelled to Tokyo to tell the story of a male entrepreneur who runs a business in which people can be “rented” to assume the roles of other people. It’s a scripted drama based on real events with the actual businessman at the heart of the company playing the film’s leading role. Herzog’s Cannes history is a prolific one —he won the Best director award for Fitzcarraldo in 1982— but does he still enjoy it all these decades later? “Everybody complains, but they come each year,” he says, smiling.“There’s just something unique about it.” Family Romance LLC just one of two projects Herzog has been recently working on—the documentary Meeting Gorbachev was released just last month; he’ll also star in new Star Wars television show The Mandalorian that’s set to debut on Disney’s new streaming service later this year.

Werner Herzog photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

7
Mati Diop
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Mati Diop made history this year as the first black woman to direct a film competing for the Palme d’Or. Atlantics, which is also her directorial debut, is a Senegalese arthouse drama that’s been on everybody’s lips since its premiere. At the heart of the film, which merges several genres (romance, detective story, and supernatural chiller), is an event that sees a group of male workers who leave the country by sea in search of a better life. Diop—who has also acted, including in Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum—adapted the film from a short she made in 2009, but felt there was a more effective story to be told. “When I made that short, I felt I still had a lot of things to say and wanted to talk about it from the point of view of the women that stayed behind,” she said. “For me, that was the best way to look at it.”

Mati Diop photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

8
Bill Murray
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Bill Murray photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

9
Priyanka Chopra
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Priyanka Chopra photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

10
Nick Jonas
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Nick Jonas photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

11
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas
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Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

12
Robert Eggers, Willem Dafoe, and Robert Pattinson
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Robert Eggers, Willem Dafoe, and Robert Pattinson photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

13
Willem Dafoe
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Willem Dafoe photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

14
Levan Gelbakhiani
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Levan Gelbakhiani photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

15
Antonio Banderas
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Antonio Banderas photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

16
Leonardo Sbaraglia
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Leonardo Sbaraglia photographed by Victoria Stevens at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.