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 such, a five-part series on the Cannes Film Festival is underway with the publishing of Part I.
Since 1946, Cannes has hosted the 12-day International Film Festival, where a jury of international talent decides on the awards for the best films of the year. An official competition takes place in the heart of the famous Palais des Festivals and attracts the attention of the world during the opening ceremony and the presentation of the Palme d’Or.
The second first Festival in 1946
The International Film Festival was born in the heady atmosphere of the end of World War II, marking the beginning of a major episode in world cinema.
Hope in the first years after the war
Back in July of 1945, in a France devastated by the war, Philippe Erlanger – who was at the origin of the first, aborted initiative – put the idea forward again to the new director of French cinematography.
But the French State and the municipality of Cannes could no longer afford such an expense. The necessary funds were raised through a public subscription, making this first festival possible.
In September 1946, in a festive atmosphere and despite a series of technical problems, this first festival kicked off a long golden era that made Cannes and its festival the place to be for all filmmaking countries.
Discoveries and revelations in contemporary cinema
The first Cannes Film Festival introduced the entire world to Italian cinema and its neorealism.
The rise of a new generation of filmmakers was not to the liking of the people at the Ministry who were in charge of making the selections, but films by these young auteurs quickly gained ground.
The Festival contributed to the discovery of cinemas that were relatively unknown in Europe, although there were doubts as to the jury’s objectivity, given certain diplomatic agreements.
Stay tuned for the Cannes Film Festival and the Cold War!
Before 1939, Jean Zay, the French Minister for Education and Fine Arts had a desire to implement a cultural event in France to rival the Venice International Film Festival (Bienalle) after the jury members at the Biennale changed the award winners a few hours before announcing the official results in favor of a Nazi propaganda documentary under duress from pressures imposed by the Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Shocked by these events, the French diplomat and historian, Philippe Erlanger, had already begun thinking about organizing a free festival, with no pressure and no constraints. The idea became official when he received approval from the French Ministry of Education at the time, Jean Zay.
France also wanted to do as well as Italy, giving its Festival an equally prestigious setting. Cannes and Biarritz were included in the list of some ten French cities. There were rumors that Cannes was going to win but, in a dramatic turn of events, it was announced on 9 May 1939 that Biarritz had been chosen as the Festival’s home. Cannes’s supporters got back to work and ended up winning the competition by offering to increase the municipality’s financial participation.
Thus, on 31 May 1939, the city of Cannes and the French government signed the International Film Festival’s official birth certificate. The International Film Festival opened in Cannes on 1 September 1939, at the same time as the Venice Film Festival. The first festival-goers arrived in August, taking part in sumptuous parties. The painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue produced the official poster for this first festival.
The originality aspect of the event was emphasized: each country would select a film to be proposed for the competition. France did not want to create further tensions and decided to invite all filmmaking nations, including Germany and Italy which turned down the invitation. Only nine countries agreed to take part in the first Festival as the looming crisis was building in the summer of 1939.
The first Festival was supposed to be held from 1 to 20 September 1939 in an auditorium at the Municipal Casino. The first festival-goers arrived in August, taking part in sumptuous parties. The painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue produced the official poster for this first festival.
But with the increasingly threatening clouds of war, they fled. On 1 September, German troops invaded Poland. The festival was postponed for 10 days, but the situation only worsened. War was declared on 3 September and general mobilization was declared, making it impossible for the festival to go on. A single screening was organized – privately – of the American film Quasimodo by William Dieterle, for whose promotion a cardboard replica of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was built on the beach.
Iris Knobloch, elected next President of the Cannes Film Festival
During its meeting on March 23, 2022, the Board of Directors of the French Association of the International Film Festival, which brings together public authorities and professionals of the 7th art, renewed the presidency of the Festival.
In accordance with the statutes, an election was held by secret ballot. She brought to the presidency of the Festival Mrs. Iris Knobloch.
Iris Knobloch thus becomes the first woman to serve as President of the International Film Festival. She will take office on July 1 and her three-year term will cover the 2023, 2024 and 2025 editions.
Knobloch stated, “France is doing me a great honor by entrusting me with the Presidency of the Cannes Film Festival. Deeply European, having always defended the cinema in my career, in France and abroad, I am happy to be able to devote all my energy to the influence of this planetary event, a major meeting for the safeguarding of the cultural life of a world which feels, more than ever, the imperious need for it. The cinema film seen in theaters remains an essential artistic expression and the Cannes Film Festival, with its unique selection, shows the way each year. I look forward to conducting a collective reflection with the Board of Directors, Thierry Frémaux its General Delegate and all the players in the world of cinema in order to continue the work accomplished and to imagine the future history in the light of new challenges facing us. Finally, I would like to thank Pierre Lescure for the tremendous work accomplished at the service of the Festival for 8 years and, in advance, for the discussions that we will have in order to prepare for the transition over the coming months.”
“When I was re-elected in June 2020, I announced that I wanted to ensure my succession before the end of this 3rd term and that I wanted it to be entrusted to a woman. I am happy with the arrival of Iris Knobloch and I will be pleased to pass on my duties to her, the duties of which she will be able to carry out with vision and talent,” said current chairman, Pierre Lescure.
“With the teams, we are delighted to welcome Iris Knobloch among us. (T)His appointment will help strengthen the Festival’s desire to stay as close as possible to its convictions.The challenges are numerous, we will work together to guarantee the Festival and the cinema it embodies, the place they deserve, and strongly affirm their artistic and political necessity.”
Pierre Lescure will definitively leave his functions on June 30, 2022. The Board of Directors would like to express its gratitude to him for his invaluable contribution, for the way in which he led the work of the directors, consolidating the foundations of the Cannes Film Festival and allowing the manifestation of remaining the absolute artistic reference of world cinema.
Thierry Frémaux, Managing Director, and François Desrousseaux, Secretary General, will now work with Iris Knobloch as they did with Pierre Lescure.
About Iris Knobloch
A trilingual lawyer, trained on the benches of the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich and NYU in New York, Iris Knobloch likes to present herself as “a translator”, in that she has never ceased to accompany the Hollywood studio in his understanding of the particular challenges of the French cultural exception, and to defend the idea that creation and reason need each other.
After 25 years in various management positions within Warner, including more than 15 years as President of Warner Bros France, Iris Knobloch is expanding her role in 2020 by becoming President of WarnerMedia France, Benelux, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, within particular under his responsibility the development and execution of WarnerMedia’s strategy as well as the coordination of all the group’s sales and marketing activities in the region.
After her departure and with recognized expertise in entertainment and leisure and a solid international network, she co-founded I2PO in July 2021 the first European SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) dedicated to this sector.
During all her years at the head of Warner France, she brought and accompanied some of the greatest international authors to Cannes: Clint Eastwood for the 25th anniversary of the release of Impitoyable , Christopher Nolan who supervised the restoration of 2001, the Odyssey of Stanley Kubrick’s space , Steven Soderbergh for Che which earned Benicio Del Toro the interpretation prize, Woody Allen for Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona and You will meet a beautiful and dark stranger , Dámian Szifrón for The New Savages , produced by the Argentines of K&S and by Pedro Almodóvar, Baz Luhrmann for Gatsby the Magnificent , George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road , etc.
Among them, a film symbolizes this requirement: The Artist , a French film by Michel Hazanavicius produced by Thomas Langmann, black and white and silent, which he had to explain and defend, like so many other films of French cinema, before he did not meet with the success that we know, notably with the interpretation prize awarded to Jean Dujardin. This is also one of the finest encounters between Iris Knobloch’s professional commitment and the Cannes Film Festival in the role it plays in helping great cinema emerge.
In 2008 she was named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
As the world has been hit by a heavy crisis in which a part of Europe finds itself in a state of war, the Festival de Cannes wishes to extend all its support to the people of Ukraine and all those who are in its territory.
However modest as it is, we join our voices with those who oppose this unacceptable situation and denounce the attitude of Russia and its leaders.
Our thoughts go out in particular to the Ukrainian artists and film industry professionals, as well as their families whose lives are now in danger. There are those whom we’ve never met, and those whom we’ve come to know and welcomed to Cannes, who came with works that say much about Ukraine’s history and the present.
During this winter of 2022, the Festival de Cannes and the Marché du Film have entered their preparation phase. Unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people, it has been decided that we will not welcome official Russian delegations nor accept the presence of anyone linked to the Russian government.
However, we would like to salute the courage of all those in Russia who have taken risks to protest against the assault and invasion of Ukraine. Among them are artists and film professionals who have never ceased to fight against the contemporary regime, who cannot be associated with these unbearable actions, and those who are bombing Ukraine.
Loyal to its history that started in 1939 in resistance to the fascist and Nazi dictatorship, the Festival de Cannes will always serve artists and industry professionals that raise their voices to denounce violence, repression, and injustices, for the main purpose to defend peace and liberty.
The 70th anniversary edition of the Festival de Cannes hass finally come to a close. The event came to an end on the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, where Mistress of Ceremonies Monica Bellucci welcomed the Feature Film Jury presided by Pedro Almodóvar to announce the 2017 prize-winners. This year’s Palme d’or, The Square, was screened at the end of the prize-giving ceremony to close the Festival.
Check out the list of this year’s award winners and see which ones you like!
Minors in France will no longer be automatically barred from watching films containing real, non-simulated sex scenes, according to a report, as the Ministry of Culture is set to liberalize domestic laws on film classifications.
France’s Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay will issue a decree softening the criteria for banning films to those aged under 18 as soon as next month, BFM TV reports.
Until now, a decree dating from 2003 stipulates that films “with non-simulated or very violent sex scenes” must be banned for children under 18 years of age. It means that any film covered by the description must be automatically prohibited to minors.
“To ban children under 18 from watching films is nonsense,” Joel Chapron, UniFrance head of research and distributor relations, and Cannes Film Festival consultant, told RT.
“Society has long surpassed cinema. If people younger than 18 are making love in real life, don’t they have a right to watch a similar movie in the cinema? It’s double-dealing, insincerity, hypocrisy.”
The new decree will put an end to this ‘automaticity,’ the Ministry of Culture says.
“The ban on children below the age of 18 will no longer be automatically applied to works containing non-simulated sex scenes, but [will be] reserved for works involving scenes of sex or violence likely to seriously offend the sensitivity of minors,” the Ministry of the Culture stated, as quoted by BFM TV.
The new decree is thought to have been prompted by a report presented last year by Jean-Francois Mary, chairman of the French film classification commission. According to the report, the criterion of ‘non-simulated’ sex was outdated because “a scene can be quite explicit on the screen, while being simulated during the shooting.”
In 2015, Gaspar Noé’s erotic 3D melodrama ‘Love,’ awash with explicit sexual scenes, provoked a war of words and ratings in France.
The film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, was initially rated 16, meaning that children under that age could not watch it in French cinemas. Worried about the sexual nature of the film, then-Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin asked the ratings board for a second review, recommending a stronger rating.
The minister came under fire from the French Directors Guild (L’ARP) and film distribution and international sales giant Wild Bunch.
“We have nothing to gain from being in the game of conservatism and puritanism,” L’ARP said in a statement, as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter.
The ‘moralization’ of works, the intimate friend of censorship, is a dangerous game. The filmmakers of ARP remain convinced that poetry, sexual as it is, [from] filmmaker Gaspar Noé, will remain a better educational source than that of porn debauchery permanently available on the internet,” it added.
The French ratings board ignored Pellerin’s judgment, and the certificate for the erotic movie remained unchanged
Viewed by Larry Gleeson as part of AFIFEST 2016 presented by Audi.
Divines is the first feature length film by self-taught director Houda Benyamina. Benyamina, Actress Oulaya Amamra, and Divines were AFIFEST 2016 winners of the New Auteurs Audience Award, the Breakthrough Audience Award and a Special Jury Mention for Acting.
The film opens in surreal fashion with an out of focus frame containing a smoke and fog-like effect reminiscent of a meditation and indicative of the filmmaker’s use of dream logic.
Quickly, homage is made to Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver, with lead character, Dounia, played exquisitely by Oulaya Amamra, standing in front of a mirror pretending to fire a pistol while asking, “You looking at me?” Later in the film another homage to Scorcese is made from his early work, Mean Streets, with Dounia on her knees in the middle of the street pleading with God.
And, without too much adieu, Benyamina quickly takes us into the inner world of her lead character, Dounia. In a sacred space Dounia sneaks voyeuristically in a low-key lit, high-angle omniscient shot looking down on a theater stage during an audition. She likes what she sees in the form of Djigui, a dancer with moves and passion, played by Kevin Mishel.
A transition is made to a rambunctious classroom. Soon, Dounia is arguing with hyper intensity as Dounia questions her teacher’s values and choice of vocation. The moment culminates with Dounia quitting school vowing to “show them.” Her vocation is to make money.
Another transition is made to a slow motion sequence in a darkly lit dance club playing diagetic music from a singing disc jockey. Here we see Dounia’s troubled mother inebriated and looking for love in all the wrong places – a common scenario throughout Divines for Dounia’s mother.
Before long, Dounia witnesses a drug stash in the back of the theater. Dounia seizes the moment and takes the stash to a local dealer with her best friend, Maimouna, an Iman’s daughter, played by Deborah Lukumuena. The circle is complete as the drug dealer, Rebecca, played handsomely by Jisca Kalvanda, rounds out a strong cast of mostly female characters.
Throughout Divines, Dounia is searching for dignity. She lives in a Roma (gypsy) camp on the outskits of Paris and is frequently called Bastard. She discovers drug dealing as a way to gain respect and power. Before long, however, Dounia finds out the price she must pay for her vocation might be too high.
In Divines, Benyamina illuminates an emerging Parisian subculture made up of colorful, fringe characters steeped in Islam highlighting their highly creative, unique, and authentic stories. In furthering her artistic vision to democratize cinema, Benyamina formed a mutual assistance cinematic trade association, 1000 Visages (Faces).
Possibly quite coincidentally, American mythologist, Joseph Campbell’s tome, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” a seminal work on archetypal heroes and myths shared by world religions and traditions, contains the association’s name in the book’s title. However, I believe Benyamina has dissected the work drawing extensively from its teachings as we witness the transformation of Dounia.
For a first feature, Benyamina’s Divines is polished. Costuming is realistic. The camera work and editing augment the film’s reality well. The musical score sets the mood and aids in pacing. And the acting is quite good. Highly recommended.
CAIRO – Eight square meters for 25 prisoners – American journalists, Muslim Brothers, common citizens – who were arrested by Egyptian police during violent demonstrations following the ouster of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013 star in the opening film of the International film festival in Cairo.
These characters, detained together for a whole day, are featured in Eshtebak (Clash) by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, that opened the section ‘Un certain regard’ at the latest Cannes Film Festival.
The movie will be presented on Friday night at the Cairo event, which runs until November 24.
It was greenlighted by censors in July and hit movie theaters. However, the film was pulled out a few days later, as denounced by the filmmaker.
And the festival’s artistic director, Youssef Rizkallah, has decided to screen other controversial movies.
Several films focusing on key issues of the 2011 revolution and 2013 protests will be screened in the section dedicated to new Egyptian cinema (eight films have been produced between 2015 and 2016).
They focus on the violence of those terrible days of Raba’a Al Adaweya – when over 600 civilians were killed and thousands wounded – as well as human and sentimental relations during those events with the uprising on the background.
One of them is Sins of the Flesh by Haram El Gasad, which is set in a remote farm in the Egyptian countryside where echoes of the uprising impact the lives of protagonists, and Out of Order by Mahmoud Kamel and Bitter Moon by Hany Khalifa. A box-office hit to be screened is also Hepta: the Last Lecture by Hadi El-Bagoury, a movie based on the best seller by the same name.
There are lighter stories that talk about sex (never explicitly), food and betrayal, like the latest work by Yousry Nasrallah, Books, Meadows and Lovely Faces, presented a few days ago at the Medfilm festival in Rome. Another is the latest movie by Mohamed Khan, Before the Summer Crowds, and Nawara by Hala Khalil focusing on social inequality in the country.