The Oldest Film Festivals in the World – Part 2

Readers of our first blog will recall that we crammed in a fair amount of information relating to the Venice Film Festival. Which holds the undisputed title of the oldest film festival in the world. This time around we turn our attention to another heavyweight festival, in the form of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival

Since its inception back in 1946, Cannes has enjoyed the status as one of the premiere cinematography events. They have had a history of pre-screening new movies of all genres, making it highly attractive to huge numbers of followers. The invitation only audience can expect to see high-profile directors and filmmakers alongside lesser known up and coming artists.

Although Cannes first festival was in 1946 its origins go back much further than that period. It is widely believed that France wanted to compete as best it could with its Austrian counterpart. Twenty-One countries battled it out in its inaugural year, with Sixteen competing in the second year. However, due to budgetary issues the festival wasn’t held again in either 1948 or 1950. In 1951 the sensible decision of moving the event to the spring to avoid direct competition with the Venice Film Festival. In addition to this the weather would be much more suitable and unlikely to blow the roof off, as it did in 1949 when held in the seafront promenade of La Croisette.

The 50’s and 60’s

There were celebrity scandals galore in the early 1950’s which helped to bring an increased media frenzy around the popular event. It should also be noted that the artistic aspect of the festival really started to develop around this same time.

  • 1954 saw the special jury prize given for the very first time. A year later the coveted Palme D’or was created and a further two years later saw the first woman being allowed onto the voting jury.
  • 1962 saw the birth of the International Critics Week with the mission of showcasing 1st and 2nd works from different directors around the globe.
  • 1968 saw the festival abruptly halted. Louis Malle amongst others took over a large room during the event in support of the students and labour strike which was then running all over France.

The 70’s and 80’s

Significant changes were brought about in the 1970’s. Notably with Robert Favre Le Bret being sworn in as the new president in 1972. Additionally, there was also to be a new General Delegate, Maurice Bessy. Dramatic changes were introduced to the selection of films, with Chronicle of the Year of File and Mash epitomizing the new regime.

During the mid-80’s the festival screen considerably more overseas films. Which in turn only set about to increase the value of the event. Countries now featured included:

  • Australia
  • India
  • Argentina
  • New Zealand
  • China
  • Philippines
  • Cuba

1987 marked the year that a “red carpet” was used for any type of film festival for the first time.

Louis Malle

Modern Day

The turn of the century saw the event placing a strong focus on technology and the advancements that had been affecting cinematography, especially the birth of digital effects. The festival enjoyed a hugely regarded 70th birthday event in 2017, although there seemed to be strongly divided opinions surrounding the rules on theatrical screening. We hope that you have enjoyed finding out a little more about the Cannes Film Festival, which is the 2nd oldest festival behind the Venice Film Festival.