The history of the Cannes Film Festival starts in 1939
Most people report that the Cannes Film Festival saw the light of day in 1946, but in fact the very first film festival was put on the program as early as 1939.
However, it was a brief pleasure due to World War II, which broke out large at the same time as the film festival was due to begin.
Only one film was shown
The film festival was scheduled to start on September 1, 1939, but due to the Germans’ invasion of Poland on the same day, the festival was initially postponed for 10 days to be resumed. But when World War II officially broke out on September 3, 1939, the festival was then canceled and only resumed in 1946.
However, it managed to show only a single film, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by American director William Dieterle.
Should compete with the film festival in Venice
It was the French Education Minister Jean Zay who, in 1938, came up with the idea for a film festival in France. It was a desire to compete with the Venice Film Festival, which at the time, was the only annual film festival in Europe.
In 1938, the Venice Film Festival had become a political tool for Hitler and Mussolini’s Nazi and Fascist propaganda. They simply split the prices in between themselves and an outraged France decided to rebel against this. This was the start of the film festival that we all know so well today.
In 2023, the 76th film festival will be held
1946 therefore marks the real birth of the Festival and in 2023 the Film Festival was able to celebrate its 76th birthday. The festival takes place from May 16 to 27.
Palme d’Or born in 1955
The Golden Palm, Palme d’Or, has not always been handed out at the Cannes Film Festival.
In the early years, a selection of films was awarded the title of Grand Prix du Festival, which was recognition of the creative processes of filmmaking and not an actual competition like today.
During its first years, the film festival had to be cancelled twice, in 1948 and 1959, both times for financial reasons.
In 1952, the Palais des Festivals was selected as a permanent venue for the Cannes Festival Film and, in 1955, the award for best film, The Golden Palm, was introduced for the first time.
Most prestigious Film Festival
In the 1950’s, the festival was considered the world’s most prestigious film festival and it has retained that status right up to the present day, with over 30,000 visitors over the 11 days it takes place. By comparison, there were about 300 participants for the first Film Festival in 1946.
Link to the festivals homepage: The International Film Festival Cannes→
By Tommy Sverre – 2023