The Cannes Film Festival is an event that attracts Hollywood stars, film directors and producers as well as so much world attention. It is one of the industries most prestigious affairs that started back in September 1939. During the Second World War, things came to a stop for a while but the festival when it did come back, it came back with a vengeance.
After the war the festival was held earlier in the year, in May 1946 with the Palme d’Or being introduced five years later in 1955. It was not until the sixties that the festival really took hold and became the highlight of the international film industry’s calendar.
The actual festival is made up of seven categories. The In Competition, Out of Competition, Un Certain Regard, Cinefondation, Critics’ Week, Directors’ Fortnight and finally the Marché du Film.
This annual event, some may say is a little ‘over the top’. However, it is today one of the most publicised film festivals on the planet. It’s an invitation-only affair that’s held in the Palais des Festivals et des Congres in sun drenched Cannes.
Over the years, the festival blossomed with more categories being introduced as the film industry itself grew to what we know today. During this time, the festival has had a few ups and downs, one of which was when the roof of the purpose built Palais des Festival, blew off. Money was an issue during the late forties and as such the event was not held during this period.
The Golden Palm was introduced in 1955, replacing the Grand Prix du Festival and in 1957, the first woman was allowed to be a member of the jury, her name was Dolores del Rio. Commercialisation of the festival began in 1959, when the Marché du Film category was introduced. This meant that for the first time people within the film industry could exchange work, they became buyers and sellers making the festival their market place.
In 1962, another category was created when the International Critics’ Week was introduced to the festival. This was the first year when films by directors from all over the globe, were showcased. In 1966, the wonderful actress Olivia de Havilland became the first woman to be president of the event.
But in 1968, the festival encountered a problem with the event being interrupted by a few directors who withdrew their films and another Louis Malle with a group of other directors made their stand of solidarity for French students and the labour strike of that year. They were also protesting against the sacking of the President of Cinémathèque Francaise of the time. On the strength of their protests, the President was indeed reinstated and the SRF, Film Directors’ Society was founded.
Over the following decades, the festival saw lots of changes and many of these were introduced to keep up with the times. Today, this twelve day film extravaganza was held again and just proves how well established it is as the one true International film industry commercial platforms in the world. The 65th annual Cannes Film Festival, also marked the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe with posters of her adorning the event.