Cannes Film Festival – Summer Highlight on the French Riviera
The world-famous Cannes Film Festival (scheduled for May 12-23, 2010) was first held on September 20, 1946. World War II postponed the event’s intended 1939 inception, but it subsequently became the first major international cultural event of the post-war period. The festival has been held every year since 1946, with the exception of 1948 and 1950. In 1952, it was moved from September to May. and remains the premier summer event on the French Riviera, as well as the focus of global media attention.
The most prestigious award conveyed during the event is the Palme d’Or for the top-rated film of the festival. There is also a Grand Prize, a Jury Prize, and recognition of the “bests” in the categories of short film, actress, actor, director, and screen play. The board of directors for the Festival chooses the juries prior to each event. These panels are made up of a broad cross-section of international artists selected for the quality of their individual bodies of work as well as for the regard in which they are held by their professional peers.
The Palais des Festivals, which opened in 1982, is an impressive modern complex with premier sound equipment and technology for simultaneous translation. Visitors are attracted to the Allées des Stars year round for its impressive collection of hand prints and signatures of the great notables of the industry. In addition to its three auditoriums and 11 conference rooms, the Palais has both a night club and a restaurant, and is a glittering centre of unparalleled red-carpet celebrity watching during the festival itself.
Although unquestionably a venue for the rich, famous, and well-known, many top-quality, but lesser-publicised films can be viewed by tourists (without a press pass) for free during the festival. Interested parties can go to the registration area to acquire an “invitation.” It’s a good idea to arrive about an hour in advance. Film schedules are available at the local tourism office. “Badges” are also available and can be acquired before the festival. These will allow access to higher priority seating than an “invitation.” Most of the films are sub-titled in French only, although English sub-titles can be found in some of the larger cinemas. (Often interview with actors and directors precede the showing of the films, but these interview are almost always in French.)
The Cannes Film Festival is an important showcase for European films, but it also creates a unique platform for film producers to launch their new projects and to attempt to market their works to global distributors. The Marché du Film, held parallel to the main festival, is one of the busiest movie markets in the world and draws some 10,000+ buyers and sellers annually. It is a place where meetings are held, negotiations hashed out, and deals made. Consequently, the climate around the Festival is an important business venue with serious networking and investment opportunities, all set against the backdrop of a sparkling gathering of celebrities showcasing outstanding performances and great works of cinematographic art.