Cannes Film Festival 2020, France
May 12 - May 23
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 each 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.
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.
The 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.
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), Best Short Film, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Cannes Film Festival Winners 2019
Palme d’or : Parasite by Bong Joon Ho.
Grand Prix: Atlantique, Mati Diop.
Jury Prize : Les Miserables by Ladj Ly.
Best Director : Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes, Young Ahmed.
Best Actor : Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory.
Best Actress : Emily Beecham, Little Joe
Cannes Film Festival Submission
If you are submitting a film for the festival, the deadline is 4 March for feature films, 2 March for shorts, and 15 February for students at film schools.
Cannes Film Festival Dates
12 to 23 May, 2020.
Hotels in Cannes
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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: Natasha Poly on the Cannes red carpet.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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