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The History of the Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet

This May brings the 71st Cannes Film Festival to the French Riviera. The world’s most prestigious and widely-publicised film festival will be held from 8th– 19th May 2018, having been held annually since 1946 – but where did it all begin?

Though the first ever Cannes Film Festival was held in the mid-1940s, the idea was born in the previous decade.

The world’s first and oldest international film festival was held in Venice in the August of 1932. The same year, the French Minister of National Education laid the foundations for a French cinematographic festival to rival Venice. Of course, in order to compete, France needed a setting even more glamourous than Venice – so where better than the French Riviera?!  Though Biarttitz, a coastal town on France’s Basque coast, was an initial suggestion, hoteliers, restaurant owners and general supporters of Cannes were not giving up, and were passionate that Cannes was the perfect city for such an exclusive and luxurious celebration of cinematography.

View over Cannes, French Riviera

The first Cannes Film Festival was planned for 1939, though the beginning of World War II delayed the festival’s debut year until 1946. Three years later, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès (Palace of Festivals and Conferences) was built on the boulevard of Promenade de la Croisette, to host the event. Over 30 years later, in the mid-1970s, the City of Cannes built a new venue to host the invitation-only festivals, which had continued to grow year on year. The new, six-storey Palais des Festivals et des Congrès opened in 1982 and was expanded in 1999. Today, the building is also home to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Cannes' Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

The Golden Palm (or ‘Palme d’Or’) is bestowed for the best film and, unsurprisingly, is the most prestigious and sought after award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Recent winners include French crime drama, ‘Dheepan’; British drama, ‘I, Daniel Blake’; and satirical, Swedish film, ‘The Square’.

Palm d'Or Award from the 1979 Cannes Film Festival

Palm d’Or Award from the 1979 Cannes Film Festival

Though the event receives mass media exposure across the world, the exclusive, non-public festival remains invite-only and is attended by some of the world’s most talented and famous film stars – both on and off the camera. As well as the presentation of over 20 awards, the event provides a fantastic opportunity for film directors to showcase their work to some of the biggest names in the film industry.

Over the coming weeks, the world’s most iconic, annual film festival will again grace the Promenade de la Croisette for its 71st birthday. Australian actress and theatre director, Cate Blanchett will assume the esteemed position of President of the Jury for the 2018 panel.

Though the Cannes Film Festival itself is invitation only, there are many ways that you can enjoy the buzz and glamour of the festival without needing to step onto the red carpet. Numerous parties are held throughout the duration of the festival, the electric atmosphere overflows into the beautiful French bars and eateries. To avoid disappointment, we strongly recommend booking restaurants ahead of your French Riviera stay.

Bruce International

Bruce International are a Cote d’Azur property specialist based in Roquefort-les-Pins in the South of France who offer a range of services including property viewings, purchase assistance and even project and event management! For further information about Bruce International and their wealth of experience in the property sector, please click here.

The History of the Cannes Film Festival

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