Every year in the second fortnight of May, the Cannes Festival puts the Palais des Festivals et Congrès in the world spotlight. Glamorous, magical and legendary, it is both the most important film festival in the world and the top cultural event. 30,000 professionals and fans, nearly 5,000 journalists, dozens of stars and a whole city focusing on the cinema. The role of the Cannes Film Festival in the development of world cinema has been decisive – both in the history of Cannes and that of the Palais des Festivals.
- History: milestones
- The Palais, a film location
- Key figures
- Visits and discovering Cannes - version cinema
1939 - The Cannes Film Festival was a response to unacceptable dictatorship; freedom is the bedrock of the International Film Festival. The first Festival should have been held from 1 to 20 September 1939 - the poster by Jean-Gabriel Domergue was even produced but... it wasn’t until 1946 that the first actual edition of the Festival was held in the old Casino. Then in 1947, the Palais Croisette planned to host the Festival... but a violent storm damaged the roof - which meant the event had to be transferred to the municipal Casino.
In 1949, the first Palais des Festivals, known as Palais Croisette, was opened where the JW Marriott hotel now stands.
The Palme d'Or was created in 1955 on the initiative of Robert Favre Le Bret, then head of the Cannes Film Festival. Several jewellers presented designs that had references to Cannes’ coat of arms. That year Grace Kelly, who was staying at the Carlton, came to present "To Catch a Thief", which was shot on the Côte d'Azur in 1954 and it was there she met Prince Rainier for the very first time.
The Marché du Film which was unofficially held in rooms on rue d'Antibes became official in 1959. Olivia de Havilland was the first woman president of the jury in 1964. In 1972 the Cannes Film Festival was officially recognized as a non-profit organization.
1983 marked the opening of the Palais des Festivals et Congrès de Cannes. 1984 saw the beginning of the hand casts that today make up the Allée des Étoiles in the gardens surrounding the Palais. In 1993, the Palme d'Or was for the first time awarded to film directed by a woman: Jane Campion for "The Piano Lesson"; in 1993, Canal + became the official partner of the Festival and undertook to produce the opening and closing ceremonies, giving the event new resonance.
La Palme was modernized in 1997 by Chopard. The Palme in 24-carat gold is hand cast in a wax mould and then set on a unique cut crystal cushion.
In 1998 Roberto Benigni made the audience in the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière cry with laughter and emotion with the Grand Prix winning "Life is Beautiful".
After the opening of the Espace Riveria in May 2000 followed by the Rotonde Lérins in 2006, a proper film industry centre was constituted - known as the "Village International". This development now hosts almost 12,000 visitors and exhibitors. They take advantage of this unique environment to present and discover around 4,000 films and projects in 34 screening rooms. A working environment acclaimed by 97.8%* of the professionals present. (*2009 satisfaction survey www.marchedufilm.com).
Until then called the International Film Festival, the name Festival de Cannes became official in 2002.
In 2007, the Salle du 60ème on the Terrasse Riviera was created as a temporary structure and another venue for screenings. Since 2010 the opening film has been released in cinemas at the same time as it is screened in Cannes. Pierre Lescure was elected President of the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, succeeding Gilles Jacob for the 69th edition.
In 2016 Julia Roberts was on the red carpet for the first time... and barefoot; the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival took place in 2017. This year, in May 2019 Alejandro González Iñarritu succeeds Cate Blanchett as president of the jury.
For more information about the history of Cannes and the Festival, why not join one of the guided tours organized by the Tourist Office?
THE PALAIS, A FILM LOCATION
Cannes is the city of cinema – shooting takes place all year round. The Palais des Festivals is used as a location for series as well as films:
Les Gorilles with Joey Starr, Manu Payet, Alice Belaid - Released in 2015
The Palais teams remember this shoot under the name of “36 heures à tuer”. Post-production the Tristan Aurouet comedy finally took the name Les Gorilles.
Mr Bean's Holiday, with Rowan Atkinson, Willem Dafoe and Emma de Caunes - Released in 2007. This Steve Bendelack comedy is inspired by Jacques Tati's film, "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday", which is remembered in one of Cannes’ murals.
Femme Fatale with Antonio Banderas released in 2002
This Brian De Palma directed film gets everyone talking during guided tours of the Palais. Disappointment can be read on the faces of the audience who don’t get to see the film’s majestic waterfalls - just the Palais’ toilets!
La Cité de la Peur with Chantal Lauby, Alain Chabat, Dominique Farrugia (les Nuls) - Released in 1994. This film by Alain Berbérian and Alain Chabat became cult as soon as it was released. In the chase scene on La Croisette, Alain Chabat’s film starts in the enlarged glass canopy which now houses event organizers offices.
Practical information about Cannes’ filming policy.
THE FESTIVAL OF CANNES - SOME FIGURES
- “Les Marches”: There are 24... 60 meters long and 6.05 meters high.
- 145 kg - the weight of the superlative poster that hangs over the entrance to the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière.
- 29 meters by 9 meters - the size of the cinema screen in the Théâtre Louis Lumière, one of the largest in the world.
- Over 4,500 journalists! It is the largest media event in the world after the Olympics.
- There are now 374 handprints.
- The Camille Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals has been the official music since 1990 and is played before each official screening.
VISITS AND DISCOVERING CANNES - VERSION CINEMA
All year round the Cannes Tourist Office presents the cinema and glamour side of Cannes – ask for advice from the destination’s experts.