The Cannes Film Festival
(Bigger than the Oscars, less smelly than Woodstock)

Written by: Joe Yang

Overview: Founded in 1939, The Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) is touted as the most influential and prestigious film festival in the world, attended by about 35,000 film industry professionals (from all specialties), and covered by roughly 4,000 journalists/paparazzi.

In short, the purpose of this glitzy festival is to celebrate international film, to discover new talent, to showcase current cinematic trends, and to get royally trashed at the parties that follow.

In 1959, the Marché du Film (Film Market) was established at Cannes as a way of helping filmmakers and industry professionals find commercial opportunities for distributing films and the like. Today, it's not uncommon for multi-million dollar contracts and deals to be negotiated over the course of the event.

Location: The Cannes Film Festival runs for 12 days (usually in May) in the small city of (surprise!) Cannes, located in southern France. The weather is said to be gorgeous that time of year, and thousands of star-struck tourists flock to get a glimpse of their favorite celebrities.

cannes film festival

How films are selected: Every year, thousands of films from around the world are submitted to the Cannes Festival committee. It's an extremely competitive pool, and in the end, only about fifty feature films and thirty shorts are actually selected to be shown in the category known as the Official Selection.

The Official Selection, as you might have guessed, is the centerpiece of the festival. Other films are shown too, and serve as "sidebars" during alternate events like Critics' Week or Director's Fortnight.

The Official Selection is broken down into several sub-categories:

-Competition: Feature films and Short films. Short films cannot be more than 15 minutes.

-Feature Films Out of Competition: These are films that the screening committee really like, but don't quite meet the standards to be considered in the Competition category.

-Un Certain Regard: These films are more experimental (aka really weird movies), first time films, and perhaps experimental films by well-known directors.

-Cinefondation: These films are made by students who are in currently in film school. They can only be fiction, and must be 60 minutes or less in total running time.

cannes film festival

Awards: Although there are many awards given, the biggest ones are determined by the Feature Films Jury and the Short Films & Cinefondation Jury.

In the event of a tie, the directors of the films in question are taken to a small room where they are then required to do straight shots of vodka and Red-bull. Whoever passes out last gets to take home an official Cannes Film Festival T-shirt, while the loser is forced to cast Keanu Reeves in his/her next film.

Just kidding.

The highest award at the festival known as the Palm d'Or, which is bestowed upon the best feature film and best short film shown in the Competition category.

The Camera d'Or is awarded to the best first-time film shown at the festival, and is decided by a separate jury.

The juries can, if they want, add or change awards every year. This gives the festival a bit of variation, and is one of the many reasons why it continues to be a huge draw.

Thanks for reading about the Cannes Film Festival. Click here to return to the Film Festivals page

Return to Home Page