The Insider's List: Cannes Film Festival

The Insider's List: Cannes Film Festival

Film director, producer and long-time Cannes Film Festival-goer Frank Mannion shares his personal guide to the hottest corners 
12 April 23
Cannes: Shutterstock Stockbym

In this piece, film aficionado and producer, Frank Mannion takes us on a journey behind the scenes of the famous Cannes Film Festival.

I’ve been a Cannes regular for two decades, most recently launching Quintessentially British (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench) at the festival last year.

I witnessed the star-studded world premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, where Tom Cruise laid on a flyby of French fighter jets.  

Not to be outdone, Baz Luhrmann hosted a raucous after-party for Elvis, attended by Austin Butler, Kaia Gerber, Shakira and Kylie Minogue. This year's 76th edition will be equally illustrious with premieres of Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny with Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas.

Lily Gladstone (Mollie Burkhart) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Ernest Burkhart)
in Killers of the Flower Moon © 2023 Apple Studios

There’s also Jeanne du Barry, Johnny Depp’s comeback movie as King Louis XV, and they’re all competing for the Palme D'Or.  

But if you’re looking for the inside track on where the A-listers head between all the parties and premieres, look no further. 

The Old Town – Le Suquet 

This year’s hottest ticket will be the Kering Women in Motion Awards in the ruins of the 11th century Castre Castle (Jane Fonda, Viola Davis and Isabelle Huppert were previous honourees). Expect to see Salma Hayek as her husband, François-Henri Pinault, is the chairman of Kering. He oversees Gucci, Balenciaga and Boucheron, so Hayek will certainly not be stuck for something to wear!  

If you don’t secure an invitation to the Kering party, take a walk in Le Suquet, a series of cobbled streets in the pretty old town. The winding Rue Saint Antoine is brimming with lively bars and restaurants – the Auberge Provençale and La Mirabelle are perennial favourites.  

The A-list scene at the Carlton Cannes 

The legendary historic hotel, Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel, opened its doors this month after a two-year $350m renovation that elegantly preserves its magnificent Belle Epoque façade. They also added two striking wings, a stunning new C Club spa and the largest hotel infinity pool in Cannes.

Bar°58 ©Carlton Cannes, A Regent Hotel

The best address on the Cote d’Azur is the Alfred Hitchcock Suite on the sixth floor, in the exact room where Grace Kelly and Cary Grant kissed in a memorable scene from the crime caper, To Catch a Thief. The big movie deal-making is conducted on the Carlton Terrace – it was here that I raised the money for my new film Quintessentially Irish. Traditionally, the jury president resides at the Carlton, and over the years I’ve seen past presidents (such as) Cate Blanchett, Steven Spielberg and Uma Thurman having animated discussions.  

Make a reservation at Rüya or the stylish Riviera restaurant and try the sea bass and black risotto – the chef’s table is the perfect spot for stargazing and eavesdropping. Or admire the Venini chandeliers in Bar° 58 as you sip the hotel’s iconic La Croisette cocktail.  

Best Beach Action  

The best free public beach in Cannes is Plage Macé.  

It hosts free outdoor screenings of classic films during the festival. For the 25th anniversary screening of Pulp Fiction in 2019, Quentin Tarantino and John Travolta handed out free pizzas to the audience. This year’s best beach scene will be at the Carlton Beach Club, where the bouillabaisse with a delicious saffron grey crab broth is recommended.  

It was here a photo of a bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot frolicking with Kirk Douglas made her world-famous in the pre-Instagram era of 1953.  

Mondrian’s Mr Nakamoto for the hottest table 

The most in-demand table on the Croisette this year is Mr Nakamoto in the spectacular new Mondrian Cannes. Try the mouth-watering black cod and sashimi platters, and enjoy the desserts being flamboyantly flambéed at guests' tables.  

The beachfront hotel features enchanting gardens and a beautiful, revamped terrace that will be the hippest meeting point for schmoozing at this year’s festival. The 75 spacious rooms and the 8th floor Signature Suite (with a terrace, sea view and Lalique toiletries) are a breath-taking and welcome addition to the film festival scene.  

Expect to see famous faces in the stylish fitness centre and watch this space for A-list party action at the new chic Hyde Beach nightclub with big name DJs manning the decks late into the night. 

The parting of the Red Sea at Cannes 

Saudi cinema will be showcased at the Saudi Arabian Pavilion, with the Kingdom having already welcomed big budget Hollywood productions such as Desert Warrior and Kandahar starring Gerard Butler.  

The Red Sea International Film Festival’s gala dinner at the Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc is bound to be a hot ticket. Red Sea’s Women in Cinema 2022 dinner had a starry guestlist, including Yasmine Sabri and international supermodel Naomi Campbell, and Saudi Arabian director Fatima AlBanawi.  

As Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux said about Saudi: “We should get ready to salute the coming of age of this region.”  

No Flat Shoes - Avoid a Fashion Faux Pas 

And what does one wear to Cannes?  

Fashion’s post-pandemic playbook has focused on attention-seeking looks engineered to secure social media likes. Expect to see the stars wearing glistening metallics and glamorous explosions of feathers on the red carpet, such as Chloé’s mermaid-tinged sequins and Chanel’s frissons of feathers from the Paris spring/summer 2023 collections.  

Just don’t forget to pack your heels – the eagle-eyed security guards have been known to refuse entry to the red carpet if they see flats.

Sacré bleu! 

Frank Mannion’s latest film, Quintessentially Irish, will be in cinemas later this year. 

Cannes Film Festival 2023: May 16 - May 27, 2023