For two weeks under the sizzling sun of the French Riviera, the Cannes Film Festival brings together the style and sophistication of European cinema with the star-studded glamour of Hollywood.
Widely considered as the most prestigious event of its kind, the annual festival is a huge deal among film insiders. But it is also one of the most illustrious dates on the Mediterranean’s social calendar.
Read on to discover why the Cannes Film Festival has been held in such high esteem for the past 70 years and why everybody wants to get on the phenomenally exclusive guest list.
At Cannes, only about 50 feature films and 30 short films are picked for the official selection, the main body of work showcased at the festival. These are then divided into several categories, with 20 or so premiering in the ‘Competition’ section where they compete for the top prize, the Palme d’Or.
Other sections include ‘Un Certain Regard’, which credits films with an ‘original aim or aesthetic’, and ‘Cinefondation’, a category for students enrolled in film school. There is also the ‘Out of Competition’ class for movies that don’t fit the selection criteria but judges want to recognise.
The winner of the Palme d’Or – and the winners of seven other major prizes – are picked by a jury of film professionals chaired by a world-renowned personality of cinema. For the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, for example, the French actor and filmmaker Vincent Lindon headed up a jury panel including actors Deepika Padukone, Noomi Rapace, Jasmine Trinca and Rebecca Hall.
The screenings themselves are a major part of the festival. It’s a place for new films, new artists and new artistic approaches to be seen by the people who matter in the film world.
Cannes has launched the careers of many top directors like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh, who both received the Palme d’Or for Pulp Fiction and Sex, Lies and Videotape respectively.
But even if a film doesn’t win a prize, it still stands a chance of catching the attention of critics and producers. One of the most important Cannes events is the Marché du Film, the world’s busiest movie market attended by distributors, the people behind getting films in front of audiences.
Cannes is unique in that it allows unknown filmmakers to submit their work and those who attend get to be among the first to witness the films and creatives who go on to make history.
Arguably the biggest attention-grabber of the Cannes Film Festival is the red carpet. It’s here where the world’s paparazzi gather outside the Palais des Festivals with their camera’s posed, ready for the world’s hottest celebrities to step out of black-tinted, chauffeur-driven cars dressed up to the nines.
Walking along the red carpet, the Hollywood stars, models and other VIPs pose for their photograph before slowly ascending the iconic steps of the Palais des Festivals.
These photos never fail to hit the headlines. Published in newspapers and magazine across the globe, as well as on hundreds of websites and social media platforms, they are instant hits as many are drawn to the glitz, glamour and beautiful dresses which the festival has become renowned for.
But in recent years, the red carpet has not solely focused on fashion. In 2018, there was the controversial selfie ban as well as a protest from 82 women in the film industry, who walked arm-in-arm up the steps, drawing attention the lack of female filmmakers honoured throughout the history of the festival.
Unlike many other important film festivals, Cannes is an industry-only event. This means tickets aren’t sold to the general public. Rather, after a rigorous application process, the festival grants credentials to directors, producers, actors, publicists, distributors and journalists.
Access to movie premieres and screenings, therefore, is extremely exclusive, and this only adds to the allure. It’s not altogether impossible to bag a ticket though; a select few hospitality companies, which service high-end clientele, have all the right contacts to secure these highly sought-after tickets.
This enables the privileged few to walk among the stars on the red carpet, rub shoulders with celebrities in the Palais des Festivals and watch the next up-and-coming blockbuster before everybody else.
As well as film premieres, there’s plenty of other events keeping the elite entertained throughout the festival, from VIP dinners and cocktail parties to charity fundraisers, auctions and fashion shows.
After each screening, everybody involved in the film and special guests are invited to an after-party held in an exclusive venue, usually with dinner, drinks and live music.
Actors and other big industry names usually host private lunches, dinners or meetings while luxury brands such as Grey Goose, Chopard and de Grisogono are renowned for their glitzy Cannes parties.
One of the hottest tickets in town is for the amfAR Gala and Party. Held every year since 1993, the black-tie event usually takes place along the coast in Antibes’ upscale Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc and always captures attention for its unpredictable live auction and impressive guest list.
Right next to the Palais des Festivals, the official festival hub, is Cannes’ Vieux Port, one of the most popular marinas in the South of France. When the superstars come out for the festival, the superyachts berthed here are guaranteed to be giving them a run for their money in the style stakes.
The biggest yachts are usually lined up along the Jetée Albert Edouard and a select few are sure to be the scene of some of the best soirees in town over the festival. Superyacht parties hosted by Warner Brothers as well as the owners themselves never fail to draw in the biggest names in town.
It’s possible to charter a superyacht and host a glittering party aboard too. Many companies do this as an effective way of boosting their brand. But corporate yacht charters don't have to take the form of a party; meetings, presentations, formal dinners and live entertainment are also all possible.