Every year during the month of May I dream of transporting myself to the beaches of southern France to be amongst the crowd of photographers violently shouting names. “Nicole!” “Charlotte!” “Woody!”, these shouts colliding with the clicking of their cameras.
Obviously I’m talking about le Festival de Cannes – Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s oldest and most glamorous film festivals. I began following Cannes nearly a decade ago when Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love sparked a deep fascination with cinematography.
While the international press focuses much of its attention on the grand, exaggerated red carpet dresses of celebrities (who more often than not are merely attending the festivities, not promoting films in/out of competition), I’ve always loved the footage and images from those chaotic photocalls where filmmakers face two walls of professional photogs. Apart from the opening and closing award ceremonies, actors/directors/producers involved in a film that is in or out of competition traditionally attend a photocall, a press conference, and the premiere of their film. At the photocalls photographers constantly shout the names of the actors, asking them to look left or right. After a few minutes, the ensemble will turn their backs to the photographers in front of them and often lean against a white counter to pose for the photographers originally “behind” them. This results in a series of photographs featuring the filmmakers from all angles, perfect for examining the sartorial efforts of actresses and their cohorts.
Photocalls reveal much about the style and tastes of the actors and those who dress them. European actors tend to opt for tailored casual looks while Hollywood starlets are never without chic dresses for day. Interestingly, many first-time Cannes attendees will choose more formal, frilly, dresses for their photocall looks (See Fan Bingbing’s floor length Valentino number below).
My favorite photocall looks this year are those of Juliette Binoche, who took home the Prix d’interprétation féminine this year and looked sleek in her black and white Givenchy ensemble and Charlotte Gainsbourg, last year’s recipient of the best actress award for Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, whose Balenciaga look was both structured and femininely chic. However, Carey Mulligan had the best look shot from behind. (The Roland Mouret dresses on Mulligan and Naomi Watts this year were fantastic.)
Here are some of my favorite photocall moments this year:
Carey Mulligan in RM by Roland Mouret, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Charlotte Gainsbourg in Balenciaga, The Tree
Naomi Watts in RM by Roland Mouret, Fair Game
Juliette Binoche in Givenchy, Copie Conforme
Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé, Robin Hood
Fan Bingbing in Valentino, Rizhao Chongqing (“Chongqing Blues”) 日照重慶
The cast of Mathieu Amalric’s Tournée