A Beginner's Guide To Cannes Festival 2022
"Top Gun: Maverick" Red Carpet - The 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Photo by Li Yang/China News Service via Getty Images

A Beginner's Guide To Cannes Festival 2022

Manon Lamy May 20, 2022

Film festivals, wherever they are, have an aura of mystery and excitement around them. This one especially. A festival on the French Riviera is always something to look forward to.

However, while you may know plenty about the Golden Globes and the Oscars, on the other side of the pond, you might know less about the Festival de Cannes. You might forget that the Golden Globes are not the only film festivals during the year. If you don’t know much about the Cannes Film Festival, this article will cover all the bases.

Get ready to enter a world of cinematic magic.

A brief history of the festival

While the Festival de Cannes may not be as old as the Oscars (it is only 75 years old) it certainly has an interesting history. It all started with the French wanting to have their own international film festival to rival the Venice Film Festival. That was in 1938. It became a state affair. Finally a date was set for the first edition of the festival: September 1939.

However it was quickly cancelled due to the onset of a Second World War. It wasn’t until 1946 that the festival was re-established for mid September. Nearly one year after the end of the atrocities of WW2. Over the course of two weeks, from September 20 to October 5, 21 movies were presented.

The festival had a rocky start. Due to problems of efficiency one year, and budgetary problems another, the festival didn’t take place in 1948 nor did it take place in 1950.

A new era

‘The Festival’s aim is to encourage the development of the cinematographic art in all its forms, and create and foster a spirit of collaboration between all film-producing countries’ (extract from the Festival regulations, 1948).

Such were the wise words that started the glamorous festival. Indeed through the 1950s and 1960s the festival grew in popularity with the stars of the time attending. From Brigitte Bardot to Walt Disney all the big names attended. However, it was still affected by the confrontations of the East and the West during the Cold War.

Skipping ahead to 1959, the Marché du Film was given official status. It had been operating in secrecy since 1946. Now people could network and discover the film industry in an official manner.

Perhaps the biggest changes came in the 1970s when the goal was to diversify the festival. A number of new initiatives were started such as the introduction of new prizes and introducing stars to the jury.

This festival is a landmark of French culture. Many (now) famous French actors such as Gérard Depardieu made their start at the festival.

In keeping with its goal of making it an internationally acclaimed festival, films from all over the globe were presented. One year Steven Spielberg’s E.T was presented in the selection.

Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

2020 the year where things had to be re-thought

In 2020 the festival could not be held at its usual time because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic. The organisers had hoped to move it later in the year but due to the regulations in France the festival had to be reimagined.

The festival did not back down in the face of a crisis. They still selected 56 films to show and had the Marché du Film take place exclusively online. For the special occasion is was renamed the Marché du Film Online. From World Wars to pandemic the festival has seen and experienced hurdles but has always come out stronger and better on the other side.

How does the festival work?

There could be so much more to say on the history of the festival as so much as happened in 75 years but it is also important that you understand what goes on during this glamorous event.

The festival’s main purpose os to draw attention to and raise the profile of films, and to contribute towards the development of cinema worldwide. The festival has an official selection of films that compete for various prizes.

The ‘In Competition’ films are the ones competing for the holy grail of the festival: the Palme d’Or. Short films, or Court Métrage in French, compete in their own category in the hopes of winning the Palme d’Or Court Métrage.

The other category to receive prizes is the Un certain regard (loosely translated as As a glance). The films shown there are often directed by new directors, or have been filmed using innovative techniques.

The festival also has special screenings and midnight screenings of certain movies. The Cannes Classics showcases classic films, often restored prints of classic movies, and La Cinef (Cinéfondation) showcases the works from film schools around the world.

The jury, this year made of 9 jurors, will award prizes to the 21 films of the competition.

2022 – the 75th issue

If you’ve done your maths correctly, you will know that this year celebrates the 75th issue of the Festival de Cannes. It will take place from Tuesday May 17 to Saturday May 28 in Cannes, on the French Riviera.

French/Belgian actress Viriginie Effira (who you might have seen in the original version of Call my Agent) will be the mistress of the opening and closing ceremony. 21 films are in competition for prizes this year.

Even Tom Cruise is scheduled to appear to present the new Top Gun movie.

This will make for a very exciting few days as the festival goes on.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Manon is a freelance journalist for Freshered. She joined Freshered in February 2022 where she is still working today. As a freelance journalist she enjoys covering everything from international politics to Formula 1 and travelling. Manon is currently in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham after returning from a year abroad in Vienna, Austria. She hopes to continue her studies in Journalism.