In addition to being a fashionable beach resort on the French Riviera, the city of Cannes has another claim to fame – its annual film festival. Designed to be France’s answer to the Venice Film Festival, this one did not get off to a good start. France’s Minister of Education and Fine Arts, Jean Zay, planned to hold the new festival in 1939, but WW II put paid to that idea and it had to be postponed until September, 1946. Once started however, it quickly became popular, especially once international stars like Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Romy Schneider, Orson Welles, and Sophia Loren started showing up for it in the 1950s and could be found walking along the seafront mingling with the common folk in a manner far removed from the tightly scheduled, staged appearances made by the stars of today.
To begin with, the top award for which films competed was the Grand Prix award, but in 1955 this was replaced by the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) award. Several well-known films were once Cannes Film Festival winners. With the exception of The Friendly Persuasion (1957), most would probably not hold the interest of children, but older teens might enjoy The Lost Weekend (1946), The Third Man (1949), Marty (1955), and M*A*S*H (1970).
This year’s festival runs from May 14th to 25th, with the children’s version, the Cannes Ecrans Junior, taking place June 4th to 8th.