This year’s Cannes Film Festival might just be bigger and better than ever as it resurrects itself in all its glory, two years after COVID-19 restrictions. 

“There is real euphoria… people want human contact,” Romain Benichou of rental company Century 21 told AFP. With glamorous attendees touching down in the French Riviera, lavish villas have skyrocketed by up to $421,000 during the week before the event.

In 2020, the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. Last year the event was organized, but got dulled down due to stringent health protocols and restrictions that washed over the French Riviera’s most glitzy parties.

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In the pre-pandemic world, the 2019 edition of the festival observed over 125,000 visitors and 12,000 film experts. This resulted in over 2,200 jobs and 90,000 overnight stays during the event and generated some $206 million.

While figures for the 2021 edition were not revealed, they are assumed to be much lower compared to the previous editions, due to lesser attendance and regular COVID-19 tests. 

However, things are going back to the way they were, with substantial budgets and a big guest list. 

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 “We are not necessarily back to the budgets of five or six years ago, but there is a recovery,” said Stephane Grosso, head of event management company Terre d’Evenements, adding that he just returned from looking at villa options for an “important influencer.” 

“It’s changed a lot because last year was bleak,” he added.

One aspect missing from this year’s Cannes will be hundreds of filthy rich Russians, who are barred from attending the festival if they share ties with the Kremlin. Only a “few Russians without links to the government or public sector” will attend the festival, according to a spokesperson.

“There were always one or two Russians organizing a big party on the beach,” said Grosso, adding that “the return of the Americans will make up for it.”