Posted by Larry Gleeson
The Cannes Film Festival, until 2003 called the International Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world and is widely considered the most important festival in the world in terms of impact as it draws attention to and raises profiles of films contributing to the development of cinema, globally boosts the industry and celebrates film at an international level, As such, a five-part series on the Cannes Film Festival is underway with the publishing of the History of the Cannes Film Festival – Part I, and History of the Cannes Film Festival – Part II.
Cannes Becomes a World-Class Festival
During the 1950s and through the advent of the Cold War, the Cannes Film Festival, still known as the International Film Festival, was attracting hundreds of journalists and celebrities alike. The end of WWII brought about renewed agreements, and exchanges. Numerous international cinematographic events were organized and put forth. Most filmmaking countries attended one another’s events as a sign of respect and friendship.
The post-war international harmony soon gave way to a new crisis as the East and West were at odds at just about everything and the situation deteriorated very quickly during the various festivals. The Americans were thanked for their financial assistance and received special treatment, which was not to the liking of other countries, notably those of the Eastern Bloc.
Cannes needed to step to the forefront and make a name for itself. To avoid problems in choosing the selections, an article allowed films to be withdrawn under certain conditions. But this measure, designed to smooth things over, quickly became another divisive issue. In 1956, the decision was taken to eliminate censorship, and a new era dawned for the Cannes Film Festival.
All the foreign delegations complied with the customs of Cannes: after watching the films, they attended parties that sought to outdo each other in terms of their originality. Those organized by Unifrance Film left their mark on everyone’s memories. It was at this time that the Palais set up a stand with photos of actors and directors. In 1954, the first scandals erupted with the affair of the young British actress Simone Silva, who was photographed topless with Robert Mitchum at a picnic on the Lérins Islands.
Brigitte Bardot, who quickly became a role model, was discovered at Cannes, also amplifying the Cannes phenomenon. The films selected met with unequaled commercial success.