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The Cannes Film Festival ( ), founded in 1946, is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious film festivals. The private festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrèsmarker, in the resort town of Cannesmarker, in the south of Francemarker.

The 62nd edition started 13 May and ended 24 May 2009. The President of the Jury was French actress Isabelle Huppert.



The Cannes Film Festival is organised in various sections:
  • The Official Selection - The main event of the festival.
    • In Competition - The twenty films competing for the Palme d'Or. They are projected in the Théâtre Lumière.
    • Un Certain Regard - Twenty films selected from cultures near and far; original and different works. They are projected at the Salle Debussy.
    • Out of Competition - These films are also projected in the Théâtre Lumière but do not compete for the main prize.
    • Special Screenings - The selection committee chooses for these films an environment specially adapted to their particular identity.
    • Cinéfondation - About fifteen shorts and medium-length motion pictures from film schools over the world are presented at the Salle Buñuel.
    • Short Films - The shorts competing for the Short Film Palme d'Or are presented at the Buñuel and Debussy theatres.
  • Parallel Sections - These are non-competitive programmes dedicated to discovering other aspects of cinema.
    • Cannes Classics - It celebrates the heritage of film, aiming to highlight works of the past, presented with brand new or restored prints.
    • Tous les Cinémas du Monde - It showcases the vitality and diversity of cinema across the world. Each day, one country is invited to present a range of features and shorts in celebration of its unique culture, identity and recent film works.
    • Caméra d'Or - It rewards the best first film of the Festival, choosing among the debutants' works among the Official Selection, the Directors' Fortnight and the International Critics' Week selections.
    • Cinéma de la Plage - Screening of Cannes Classics and Out of Competition films for the mass public on Macé beach, preceded by a programme dedicated to film music.
  • Other Sections - Produced by outside organizations during the Cannes Festival.
  • Events
    • Marché du Film - The busiest movie market of the world.
    • Masterclasses - Given in public by world renowned filmmakers.
    • Tributes - Honors internationally renowned artists with the presentation of the Festival Trophee following the screening of one of their films.
    • Producers Network - An opportunity to make international co-productions.
    • Exhibitions - Each year, an artist, a body of work or a cinematographic theme becomes the focus of an exhibition that diversifies or illustrates the event's programme.
    • 60th Anniversary - Events organised in 2007 dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Festival.


Prior to the beginning of each event, the Festival’s board of directors appoints the juries who hold sole responsibility for choosing which films will receive the blessing of a Cannes award. Jurors are chosen from a wide range of international artists, based on their body of work and respect from their peers.
  • Feature Films - An international jury composed of a President and various film or art personalities , who determine the prizes for the feature films in Competition.
  • Cinéfondation and Short Films - Composed of a President and four film personalities. It awards the Short Film Palme d'Or as well as the three best films of the Cinéfondation.
  • Un Certain Regard - Composed of a President, journalists, students in cinema and industry professionals. It awards the Un Certain Regard Prize for best film and can, moreover, honour two other films.
  • Caméra d'Or - Composed of a President, as well as film directors, technicians and French and international critics. They reward the best first film in any selection.


The most prestigious award given out at Cannes is the Palme d'Or ("Golden Palm") for the best film.


The "Palais des Festivals" (2000).
At the end of the 1930s, shocked by the interference of the fascist governments of Italymarker and Germanymarker in the selection of films for the Mostra del cinema di Venezia, Jean Zay, the French Minister of National Education, decided to create an international cinematographic festival in France, on the proposal of Philippe Erlanger and the support of the British and Americans. Many towns were proposed as candidates, as Vichymarker, Biarritzmarker or Algiersmarker, although finally Cannes was the chosen one; thus, Le Festival International de Cannes was born.

In June 1939, Louis Lumière agreed to be the president of the first festival, set to be held from 1 to 30 September 1939. The Germanmarker attack on Polandmarker on 1 September 1939, followed by the declaration of war against Germanymarker by France and the United Kingdommarker on 3 September, ended the first edition of the festival before it started.

The festival was relaunched after World War II in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes. Although the initial spirit of the French festival was to compete with its Italian counterpart, a secret agreement took place between both nations, so that they will celebrate their international festivals in alternating years. The first Cannes Festival had a considerable success, so when the Franco-Italian agreement was made public it was heavily criticised and considered as a "capitulation of France".

The next year, in 1947, the festival was held again as the Festival du film de Cannes, dropping the international nature, but only in name, as films from sixteen countries were presented. Moreover, the principle of equality was introduced, so that the jury was to be made up only of one representative per country. Also, this year the festival was held at the made-for-the-occasion Palais des Festivals, although the roof was unfinished and blew off during a storm.

The festival was not held either in 1948 or 1950 on account of budgetary problems, offering no competition to the Venetian festival those years. In 1951, owing to better relations between France and Italy, the Cannes Festival was moved to Spring, while the Mostra remained in Autumn.

In 1955 the Golden Palm was created, replacing the Grand Prix du Festival which had been given until that year. In 1959 the Marché du Film (Film Market) was founded, giving the festival a commercial character and facilitating exchanges between sellers and buyers in the film industry. Today it has become the first international platform for film commerce.

In 1962 the International Critics' Week was born, created by the French Union of Film Critics as the first parallel section of the Cannes Film Festival. Its goal was to showcase first and second works bydirectors from all over the world, not succumbing to commercial tendencies. In 1965 an hommage was paid to Jean Cocteau after his death, and he was named Honorary President for life. The next year, Olivia de Havilland was named the first female president of the festival.

The 1968 festival was halted on 19 May 1968. Some directors, such as Carlos Saura and Milos Forman, had withdrawn their films from the competition. On 18 May, filmmaker Louis Malle along with a group of directors took over the large room of the Palais and interrupted the projections in solidarity with students and labour on strike throughout France, and in protest to the eviction of the then President of the Cinémathèque Françaisemarker. The filmmakers achieved the reinstatement of the President, and they founded the Film Directors' Society (SRF) that same year. In 1969 the SRF, led by Pierre-Henri Deleau created the Directors' Fortnight, a new non-competitive section that programs a selection of films from around the world, distinguished by the independent judgment displayed in the choice of films.
The "Palais des Festivals" in which the festival takes place.
During the 1970s, important changes occurred in the Festival. In 1972 Robert Favre Le Bret was named the new President, and Maurice Bessy the Managing Director. He immediately introduced an important change in the selection of the participating films. Until that date, the different countries chose which films would represent them in the festival. Bessy created one committee to select French films, and another for foreign films. In 1978 Gilles Jacob assumed the President position, introducing the Caméra d'Or award and the Un Certain Regard section. Other changes were the decrease of length of the festival down to thirteen days, reducing the number of selected films thus; also, until that point the Jury was composed by Film Academics, and Jacob started to introduce celebrities and professionals from the film industry.

In 1983 a new, much bigger Palais des Festivals et des Congrès was built to host the Festival. It was nicknamed "The Bunker" and provoked many reactions against it. In 1984 Pierre Viot replaced Robert Favre Le Bret as President of the Festival.
Stars posing for photographers are a part of Cannes folklore.
It wasn't until 1995 that Gilles Jacob created the last section of the Official Selection: la Cinéfondation. Its aim was to support the creation of works of cinema in the world and to contribute to the entry of the new scenario writers in the circle of the celebrities. The Cinéfondation was completed in 2000 with La Résidence and in 2005 L'Atelier. Meanwhile, the Festival would obtain its current President, Gilles Jacob, in 2000, and in 2002 officially adopted the name Festival de Cannes.
Stars posing for photographers are a part of Cannes folklore.


The festival has become an important showcase for European films. Jill Forbes and Sarah Street argue in , that Cannes "became...extremely important for critical and commercial interests and for European attempts to sell films on the basis of their artistic quality" (page 20). Forbes and Street also point out that, along with other festivals such as Venice and Berlin, Cannes offers an opportunity to determine a particular country's image of its cinema and generally foster the notion that European cinema is "art" cinema.

Additionally, given massive media exposure, the non-public festival is attended by many movie stars and is a popular venue for film producers to launch their new films and attempt to sell their works to the distributors who come from all over the globe.

Cannes portrayed on film

Cannes on Television

  • The HBO show Entourage featured the Cannes film festival in the finale of their 4th season. The movie Medellin was screened in the season finale.

See also


  1. Cannes International Film Festival New York Times
  2. In Pictures: Chic Cannes Hideaways Forbes
  3. The Festival Cannes Festival website
  4. Cannes juries Cannes Festival website
  5. Pixar pooch picks Up Cannes prize, BBC News 22 May 2009, retrieved on 27 May 2009
  6. History of the Festival Website of the Commune de Cannes
  7. 60th Festival of Cannes - Retrospective Ville de Cannes website. (See Cannes et Venise en concurrence)
  8. 60th Festival of Cannes - Retrospective Ville de Cannes website. (See Un concours équitable )
  9. Festival History Cannes Festival official website
  10. About the ICW International Critics' Week website.
  11. 1968 Cannes Festival archive
  12. History of the Directors' Fortnight. 1968. Directors' Fortnight website
  13. Directors' Fortnight Presentation Directors' Fortnight website. Retrieved 1 September 1007
  14. 1972 Cannes Festival archive
  15. 1978 Cannes Festival archive
  16. 1983 Cannes Festival archive
  17. La Sélection Cinéfondation website

Further reading

  • Cannes: Fifty Years of Sun, Sex & Celluloid : Behind the Scenes at the World's Most Famous Film Festival by Peter Bart (Miramax, 1997)
  • Cannes - A Festival Virgin's Guide by Benjamin Craig (Cinemagine Media Publishing, 2004)
  • Hollywood on the Riviera: The Inside Story of the Cannes Film Festival by Cari Beauchamp and Henri Behar (William Morrow & Co, 1992)

External links

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