Cannes Festival 2024: Cannes celebrates Philippe Erlanger

On the occasion of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, the Mairie de Cannes honors the memory of Philippe Erlanger. A French writer and diplomat, he helped create the Cannes International Film Festival, where he was first delegate until 1951, then member of the jury in 1953 and 1954. On Saturday May 18, 2024 at 10 a.m., David Lisnard, in the presence of Iris Knobloch, President of the Cannes Film Festival, and Rachida Dati, Minister of Culture, paid tribute to him by naming a projection and conference room at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès after him. The municipality of Cannes would like to pay tribute to the commitment of this culture enthusiast, who promoted the influence of French art throughout the world.

Published on 18 May 2024
David LisnardDavid Lisnard
©David Lisnard

Philippe Erlanger was a great diplomat, historian and art critic. In 1938, faced with the political influence and excesses of the Venice Film Festival, he set his sights on creating a film festival in France, free from political pressure and open to all countries. As early as 1939, he convinced Jean Zay, Minister of Education, and Albert Sarraut, Minister of the Interior, of this French opportunity and legitimacy. Although Biarritz was initially considered, Cannes won the bid because it was “the most propitious city for such a meeting”, in his own words. The first edition was held in 1939, but was soon interrupted by the outbreak of war. It wasn’t until 1946, in bloodless France, that the International Film Festival finally took shape. As the creator and emblematic figure of what is now the world’s biggest cultural event, it’s only natural that we should pay him a special tribute.In the presence of the Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati, we are naming a screening and conference room at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes after him.

David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes

Philippe Erlanger, founding father of the Cannes Film Festival

Born in Paris on July 11, 1903, and died in Cannes on November 23, 1987 (aged 84), Philippe Erlanger was a diplomat, historian, writer, biographer, art critic and journalist. In 1938, as director of the Association française d’action artistique, in charge of international artistic exchanges for the French government, he attended the Venice Mostra, which had been open to cinema since 1932, as a member of the jury. Against the backdrop of Fascist Italy, the prize list deeply shocked the democracies: the Grand Prix was awarded jointly to a film supervised by Mussolini’s son, and to Leni Riefenstahl’s German film, Les Dieux du Stade. The latter is not only an apology for fascism, but also a documentary. As such, it should have been excluded from the selection. On the train back to France, Philippe Erlanger, still reeling from the shock of the events, was already thinking about organizing an event to replace the Mostra, to give the world a free festival, without pressure or constraint. On his return, he contacted the authorities and soon presented his project. With the approval of Jean Zay, Minister of Education, and Albert Sarraut, Minister of the Interior, the idea of a rival festival in the south of France quickly gained ground. Cannes was chosen in the spring of 1939, but there wasn’t enough time to raise the funds, select the films and organize the festivities. The declaration of war put an end to this first edition. Although the real first edition of the Cannes Film Festival took place in 1946, the idea was born much earlier in the mind of Philippe Erlanger. He went on to become the Festival’s first delegate until 1951, and a member of the jury in 1953 and 1954. With this name, David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes, wishes to pay a lasting tribute to the commitment of this passionate man, who campaigned for the organization of the Festival in Cannes, whether he was a member of the jury or not.He wanted the Festival to be “a cinematographic event where art must not be influenced by political maneuvering”.

A spacious, multi-purpose hall at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes

Located on the fourth floor of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, auditorium K, now auditorium “Philippe Erlanger”, is a 107 m² space. It features a 28.50 m² stage and seats 147. The seats are equipped with tablets. The room is equipped with an XXL screen (6 m x 4.50 m) and can be used for presentations, seminars and screenings.

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