In the idyllic setting of the French Riviera, the city of Cannes holds the Cannes Festival every year in May. A jury of professionals and artists gather there to award several prizes, including the best film, best director, best actor, best actress, Jury Prize, Grand Prix and of course the famous Palme D’Or, the ultimate reward. The official selection emphasises the diversity of cinematographic creation. The walk up the steps attracts heavy media coverage, for the great artists of world cinema as well as emerging talents.
The main screenings take place on the Boulevard de la Croisette, in the Festival and Conference Centre. Although it is just for professionals, the festival attracts crowds of people to Cannes, who are passionate about film or just curious, hoping to meet the hundreds of filmmakers and actors there. The Beach Cinema, an outdoor cinema, shows a film every night on a particular theme. These open-air screenings are open to all and represent the festival’s strong bond with its audience.
The International Film Festival was created on the initiative of Jean Zay, Minister for Education and Fine Arts, who was keen to establish an international cultural event in France to rival the Venice Film Festival.
The first edition of the Festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis Lumière. However, it was not until over a year after the war ended that it finally took place, on 20 September 1946. It was subsequently held every September – except in 1948 and 1950 – and then every May from 1952 onwards.
These are one aspect of the event and, without a doubt, the area of the festival that receives the most press coverage. They are, for the organization, primarily a chance to extend a warm welcome to both upcoming talent and the best film artists in the world. Additionally, they offer a chance to recognize the talent of the artists who contribute to the reputation of the Festival.