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Glittery Cannes film festival literally costs the earth

A fleet of energy-guzzling luxury yachts and private planes, kilos of gourmet food dumped, limousines driving stars just a few hundred metres: for environmentalists, the Cannes film festival is just “one big mess”.

“There is, without a doubt, a huge amount that needs to be done by the festival organisers to make it more environmentally friendly,” said Cyril Dion, a filmmaker and climate activist.

For the 12-day extravaganza, the French Riviera town gets a glamorous makeover, leaving no stone unturned as turns on the charm to play host to a glittering array of global cinema’s biggest names.

But for local environmental organisation ADEN, the flip side is a lot less attractive, with the world’s biggest film festival creating phenomenal pollution.

“During the festival, the population triples, and all of these people have to travel,” said ADEN head Genevieve Huchet.

“Professionals and artists fly in to the airport at Cannes or Nice, a convoy of vehicles often led by motorcycles with their sirens wailing drive them to their hotels, the huge yachts in the bay with their motors running all day in order to have electricity.”

Every day, the red carpet is changed three or four times, and the festival prints out countless thousands of flyers advertising the daily film listings, which sometimes end up in the sea.

And that’s without mentioning the vast numbers of glossy magazines printed out every day for the first week or so of the festival, with daily copies issued by The Hollywood Reporter, Screen, Variety, and Le Film Francais among others.

All of which amounts to “frenzied consumerism”, Huchet says.

In 2015, the festival generated an extra 1,900 tonnes of rubbish for the city of Cannes, ADEM says, pointing to the last available figures.

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