What To Know About The Cannes Film Festival

The French appreciate good film. France has been known as one of the hotbeds for cinema for years and years. And thanks to publicity and much of the common beliefs about French culture and the French people, the Cannes Film Festival has become the pre-eminent event for filmmakers to show their latest releases and create worldwide buzz about their new projects before they hit the theaters.

But Cannes is not the film festival – there are dozens of festivals all over the world in which these films can be shown, and actors and directors can participate in various interviews and roundtable sessions talking about their craft and their work on the latest and greatest films. However, Cannes has become the most well-known film festival in the world, and yet you might be surprised how little people might actually know about it.

Thanks to the publicity and the fact that the Festival is one of the predominant events in the early Academy Award and Golden Globe seasons, and many fall and winter “blockbuster” or star-studded films make their way to France, this Festival has become a bellwether for at least critical or box-office success for many films and stardom (or not) for the main actors or directors.

Now that the Cannes Festival had its most recent rendition earlier this spring, here we’ll present some of our favorite fun facts about the Cannes Film Festival – how many of these did you know?

  • The Cannes Film Festival lasts about 12 days.
  • The very first Festival, debuted Sept. 1, 1939 – the same day that Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The Festival closed the next day and did not return for seven years.
  • The Festival in May of this year was the 70th.
  • The top award is the Palme d’Or, first awarded in 1955 for the best film at the Festival.
  • In 1978, the Camera d’Or was first awarded, given for the best first film.
  • There are five categories of films at the Festival – In Competition, Out of Competition, Un Certain Regard (art films), Cinefondation (made by film students), and The Market (where films are bought and sold).
  • The very first full Festival opened in 1946.
  • The Festival moved from September to April, then to May in the 1950s.
  • The Festival didn’t have enough money to run in 1948 and 1950.
  • The 1968 Festival shut down halfway through due to unrest featuring students who were demonstrating and workers who were on strike.
  • The Festival developed a new rule in 2017 after two Netflix movies that were streaming-only were included in the competition category – the new rule was to force all competitive films to be released in French cinemas.