Published:  12:00 AM, 19 March 2017

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival Bridget Bradot at Cannes in 1963
With two months to the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival, The Asian Age takes  a look back at the history of the festival.

Some 900km south from Paris, the seaside town Cannes, is located on the French Riviera. Its moment to shine arrives in every May as the venue for the Cannes Film Festival, entertaining the rich and famous.

Before 1939 Jean Zay, French Minister for Education and Fine Arts, had the desire to implement a cultural event in France to rival the International Venice Film Festival.



Prince Charles and Princess Diana walked the red  carpet together in 1987


It is finally more than a year after the end of the war in 1946, was born the first edition of the International Film Festival in Cannes. It was subsequently held every September - except in 1948 and 1950 - and then every May from 1952 onwards.

 While early editions of the Festival were primarily a social event from which almost all of the films went away with an award, the appearance of stars from around the world on the Festival's red carpet and increasing media coverage quickly earned it a legendary international reputation.

Awarded for the first time in 1955 to the film Marty directed by Delbert Mann, the Palme d'or replaced the Grand Prix, which had been awarded to the best film In Competition until then. In the 1960s, two independent selections were created in parallel to the Official Selection: the Semaine Internationale de la Critique in 1962 and the Directors' Fortnight in 1969.

Before 1972, the films that competed in the selection were chosen by their country of origin. From 1972 onwards, however, the Festival asserted its independence by choosing the films that would feature in the Official Selection for itself.

In 1978, Gilles Jacob was appointed General Delegate. That same year, he created the Un Certain Regard selection and the Caméra d'or award, which goes to the best first film presented in any of the selections.

The Leçon de Cinéma (Film Masterclass) was delivered for the first time in 1991 by Francesco Rosi. Since then, a number of other famous directors have taken their turn to talk about their artistic career and their views on film. Similarly, the first Leçon de Musique (Music Masterclass) was given by Nicola Piovani in 2003 and the first Leçon d'Acteur (Acting Masterclass) was delivered by Max Von Sydow in 2004.

In 1998, Gilles Jacob created the Cinéfondation, a selection for short and medium-length films produced by film schools from around the world. This entity grew in 2000 with the opening of the Résidence, a place where young directors can come to work and complete their screenplays. It expanded further in 2005 with the creation of the Atelier which helps some twenty directors to secure funding for their films each year.


Legendary director Martin Scorsese was flanked by Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio at a screening of Gangs of New York in 2002.

Since its creation in 2010, the new section entitled Cannes Short Film has grouped the Short Film Competition and the Short Film Corner in a complementary dynamic that aims to offer an overall view on the worldwide production of shorts.
Thierry Frémeaux, who was appointed Delegate General in 2007, said: "The Festival is also a market for international buyers and sellers; today it is the culmination, not the starting point. It used to be that films were discovered here. Now, everything is done upstream and the selections are known to the professionals one month before they are made public. But sales are often finalised after screening at Cannes".

In 2007, the Festival celebrated its 60th anniversary. It continued to denounce a fragile world in need of unity.More than ever, Cannes at the start of the 21st century is the premier cinema event in the world. It stands out amongst the other international cinematographic events such as the Berlin or Venice festivals.

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