FFE Magazine

Cannes Film Festival

Every year, the world’s most glamorous and prestigious actors and actresses grace the tourist city of Cannes along the French Riviera to attend one of the most important international award ceremonies for the film industry: the Cannes Film Festival.


Get to know more about the star-studded Cannes Film Fest and its shocking and worst moments in history:


When and what?

The Cannes Film Festival is a by invitation-only weeks-long international festival for motion picture that takes place every May. This year, the festival runs from 14 to 25 May and the awards ceremony falls on the 24th.


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Théâtre Lumière, the main event stage


Throughout the festival, films that are categorised into different groups are publicly screened. Most of the films are shown as premieres (first ever in the big screen or first ever in France) while others are old, restored films making a comeback. A special category of films called ‘Competition’ are judged by a select panel of jury according to their merits and stand to win the most coveted awards of the festival, including the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm).


The Palme d’Or, symbolises the coat of arms of the city of Cannes in France

The Palme d’Or, symbolises the coat of arms of the city of Cannes in France


The Cannes Film Fest also gives lessons in film making, acting and music scoring called Masterclasses and a forum on world cinema called International Village.



The film festival traces its roots in the late 1930s. Through the Minister for Education and Fine Arts Jean Zay, France started the International Film Festival to rival the older Venice Film Festival of Italy. War delayed the first staging of the festival, which was finally held on 20 September 1946.


In 1947, it was officially called ‘Festival du film de Cannes’ or Cannes Film Festival.


In the 1950s, Cannes started to attract the international spotlight when stars like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas and many more graced its red carpet. Around this time, festival dates were also moved from September to May to coincide with spring. In 1955, the Palme d’Or award for Best Film became the most coveted prize in the festival.


Since then, various independent selections and categories had been made to accommodate more film types.


Today the Cannes Film Festival is an important venue for the promotion of European films and for exposure among less-known film makers from other parts of the globe. It is a favourite venue for stars who want to be seen, film premieres and producers who want to launch an international distribution of their films.



Here are the sections of the Cannes Film Festival:


  1. Official Selection – the main festival events
    1. Competition – films vying for the Palme d’Or and seven other awards:

i.      Grand Prix ­(equivalent to 2nd place)

ii.      Prix du Jury (equivalent to 3rd place)

iii.      Palme d’Or du court métrage (Best Short Film)

iv.      Prix d’interprétation féminine (Best Actress)

v.      Prix d’interprétation masculine (Best Actor)

vi.      Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director)

vii.      Prix du scénario (Best Screenplay)

  1. Out of Competition – films not competing for any prize
  2. Un Certain Regard – films showcasing young talent, innovation and audacity vying for Prix Un Certain Regard
  3. Special Screenings – films chosen by a selection committee for their particular identity
  4. Cinéfondation - short to medium-length films from film schools vying for three prizes:

i.      Premier Prix

ii.      Deuxième Prix

iii.      Troisième Prix

  1. Parallel Sections – non-competition events with unique themes
    1. Cannes Classics – restored films
    2. Tous les Cinémas du Monde - films that celebrate culture and variety around the world
    3. Caméra d’Or - film prize for first feature film in any category
    4. Cinéma de la Plage - Out of Competition and Cannes Classic films are screened on Macé beach
    5. Other Sections – events produced with the help of other organisations
      1. Directors’ Fortnight – created by the French Directors Guild and celebrates original directorial styles
      2. International Critics’ Week
      3. Association for Independent Cinema and its Distribution


Cannes through the years

The Cannes Film Fest is not without its shocking moments and worst controversies. Here are some highlights throughout its 70-year history:


cannes film festival 3

1953: the bikini makes its world debut

French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, then 18, was photographed on the beach during the Cannes, making the bikini an instant must-have in the fashion world

cannes film festival 2

1968: student riots halt Cannes

After calls from French directors, many films withdrew from the 1968 Cannes to show solidarity to student and labour protests around France

cannes film festival

1991: Madonna and her pointed bra

In 1991, Madonna revealed her Jean-Paul Gaultier conical bra in a red-carpet moment to top off her documentary ‘In Bed with Madonna’

cannes film festival 4

2006: Borat’s mankini

More than 50 years after Bardot, Sacha Baron Cohen of the film ‘Borat’ stuns everyone with his version of the male bikini, a thin, lime green assemblage that reveals too much information



 2011: Danish director becomes festival’s persona non grata

Eccentric film director Lars von Trier, known of in-your-face sex and other grotesque scenes, was banned from the festival after he joked

‘I’m a Nazi.’

Here’s a list of some notable Palme d’Or winners through the years:


  • ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days’ winner 2007 by Cristian Mungiu
  • ‘The Conversation’ winner 1974 by Francis Ford Coppola
  • ‘All That Jazz’ winner 1980 by Bob Fosse
  • ‘Apocalypse Now’ winner 1979 by Francis Ford Coppola
  • ‘La Dolce Vita’ winner 1960 by Federico Fellini


2014 Cannes Film Festival

This year’s 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is off to a promising start with a slew of celebrities already making waves in the red carpet. The actors of action movie ‘The Expendables 3’ rode through the red carpet on top of a tank.


cannes film festival 6

 The formidable tank could not outweigh the heavyweight stars it carried like Americans Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford, Spain’s Antonio Banderas, Sweden’s Dolph Lundgren and Britain’s Jason Statham


cannes film festival 10

Nicole Kidman arrives in elegance wearing an intricately detailed blue Armani Prive gown. Kidman stars in the festival’s opening film ‘Grace of Monaco’ about former Hollywood actress Grace Kelly. The film has received mix reviews and criticism from Monaco’s Royal Family









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