Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

Cannes Film Festival 2024, France

14 May - 25 May

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Probably the most famous – and certainly the most glitzy – film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival, or Cannes Festival to give its official title, is held at the coastal town in southern France in May.

What is the Cannes Film Festival?

The festival is an annual, invitation only event for the finest films around the world, held at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes.

Until 2003, it was called the International Film Festival (Festival International du Film), before changing name to the Cannes Festival (Festival de Cannes).

In addition to the Official Film Selection where the selected films are screened, there is a series of fringe events, such as International Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight. The event has become the busiest market in the film industry globally.

Grand Théâtre Lumière Credit : Eliott Chalier / FDC
Grand Théâtre Lumière Credit : Eliott Chalier / FDC

History of the Cannes Film Festival

Although the first Festival was held in 1946, the origins of the festival date back some eight years prior to then.

Held in 1938, the Venice Mostra was the first international film competition, although under pressure from Hitler and Mussolini, the winners were hardly impartial awards, Nazi propagenda film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl was one of the two films to reap the Mussolini Cup.

While returning by train from the festival Philippe Erlanger conceived the idea of truly independent film awards.

Originally the festival was to be held in Biarritz, but supporters of Cannes won the day, and the first festival was slated on 1 September 1939 – the same date as the Venice Mostra. Unfortunately, events elsewhere in Europe forced the delay and ultimately cancellation of the festival. It was on 1 September 1939 that Hitler invaded Poland.

In 2002, the initial Palme d’or for the aborted 1939 Cannes Festival was awarded to Cecil B DeMille’s Union Pacific by a jury presided over by Jean D’Ormesson. Other films which would have appeared at the ’39 festival include The Wizard of Oz and The Four Feathers. There was actually one private screening held, of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which consequently became the first ever film in competition at the Cannes Festival.

Red Steps Credit : Christophe Bouillon / FDC

Red Steps Credit : Christophe Bouillon / FDCThe first festival finally took place on 20 September 1946, with films from 19 countries participating, each film received a Grand Prix.

Over the years, some of the world’s greatest directors, Roberto Rossellini, Billy Wilder, George Cukor, David Lean and Jean Renoir have been part of the Cannes story, as well as actors from Grace Kelly to Gina Lollobrigida and Cary Grant to Kirk Douglas. Even Pablo Picasso attended.

The first Palme d’or was awarded to Marty by Delbert Mann in 1955.

The festival has always courted controversy. In 1959, the festival was interrupted when directors including Malle, Truffaut and Godard stormed the stage during a screening of Peppermint Frappé by Carlos Saura.

Cannes winners, such as Pulp Fiction, La Dolce Vita and Taxi Driver were not exactly well-received at the time.

In 1997, marking the festival’s 50th anniversary, Ingmar Bergmann was awarded the Palme des Palmes, by his fellow directors, although the Swede was not available to attend the ceremony himself.

Other major European film festivals include: the Venice International Film Festival, the Berlinale and the BFI London Film Festival.

Cannes Film Festival Awards

The principle awards at the festival are the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm), Grand Prix (Grand Prize of the Festival), Prix du Jury (Jury Prize).

Cannes Film Festival


Cannes Film Festival 2024 Dates

14 to 25 May 2024.

Flights to Cannes

Nice airport is some 27 kilometres from the heart of Cannes. Alternatively you could catch the direct train from Paris, Gare de Lyon which takes about five-and-a-half hours.

For more information on the Cannes Film Festival

Visit the official Cannes festival website. Cover image: Image Credit : Aurélien Vélia / FDC. All images provided by Festival de Cannes.


14 May
25 May


Palais des Festivals et des Congrès
Cannes,Alpes-MaritimesFrance+ Google Map

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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