Cannes: Inside the Queer Night Event Shaking Up the Fest's Party Scene

Courtesy of American Pavilion
Revelers enjoyed the Queer Night celebration at the American Pavilion last year.

This year's scène might be a dud, but the annual LGBTQ celebration at the American Pavilion arrives just in time to save the day.

Even with a week left in the Cannes Film Festival, the cinema extravaganza can’t shake the sleepy reputation attached to this year’s party scene. With one notable exception: Queer Night at the American Pavilion.

In fact, the annual inclusive event — launched in 2006 by AmPav founder Julie Sisk with John Cameron Mitchell — is expecting such a turnout that it has been extended one hour, scheduled for “9 p.m. — LATE” per an AmPav rep. (An American Pavilion rep sent out an announcement on Monday that the event has been rescheduled for Tuesday night due to inclement weather.)

For many gay festival regulars, Queer Night is one of the more anticipated events on the social calendar because of the lack of a gay scene on the surrounding streets in Cannes. Gay bar hotspot Zanzibar, an industry fave, closed in 2011 (it’s been replaced by an ice cream shop), leaving a hole in the landscape.

Says Cannes veteran Laurent Boye of Jazo PR: “It was so close to the Palais [on Rue d’Antibes]. Now the remaining bars and clubs are not that convenient — that’s a bit of a drag — so the industry is always counting on Queer Night. Still, most Cannes venues are gay friendly, even the champagne bars, as long as you spend the money for a bottle.” (The remaining gay bars include drag bar Le 7 and a sex club, ParadaX.)

Sisk says they’re ready for the all-are-welcome masses: “More than 2,000 people attend over the course of the evening.”

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 13 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.