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Festivals: Cannes film festival

Type: Reference material

Cannes is a small city in the south of France on the Côte d'Azur. This year, the film festival starts on the 16th May and runs until the 27th. It is probably the most famous film festival in the industry, and is one of France's most important cultural and business events.

It all started with the first competitive international film festival held in Venice in 1932. The awards were about national prestige for the participating countries, as well as the films themselves. As World War II drew closer, there was favouritism of giving the awards to countries of the 'fascist alliance'. In 1939, a French film was tipped to be awarded the festival's top prize, but instead, it was shared between a German film made in association with the Ministry of Propaganda, and a film made by Mussolini's son. This outraged the French and they withdrew from the competition, along with the British and American judges.

A group of filmmakers and critics asked the French government to fund an alternative film festival where films would be shown without bias or political repression. Amongst others, the campaign was headed by the founder of the cinema, Louis Lumière. The first festival attempted to take place on the 1st September 1939, but was cancelled when France joined Great Britain in declaring war on Germany following the invasion of Poland. The festival had a rough re-start in September 1946 and in the following years. It was eventually moved to the spring in 1954, along with the introduction of the Palme d'Or - the replacement top prize. It is now a very glamorous 'red-carpet' event with the world's, best filmmakers, actors and critics attending, and over 2,200 films submitted for consideration, every year.

Famous winners have included: Walt Disney; Ingmar Bergman; Jacques Cousteau; Federico Fellini; Akira Kurosawa; Jane Campion.

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