Cannes Film Festival: Where, Why and What to Watch

Every year celebrities flock to the French Riviera to walk the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, previously known as the International Film Festival. Since its inauguration in 1946, the invitation-only festival has been a well-watched event for both the showcased films and the red-carpet fashion.

But why did it start and why do we care?

According to its website, the festival’s mission is to “draw attention to and raise the profile of films with the aim of contributing towards the development of cinema, boosting the film industry worldwide and celebrating cinema at an international level.”

The festival is known for giving never-before-seen films global recognition. However, there are strict rules about a film’s eligibility to be entered in the competition. The chosen films make their debut at Cannes and many go on to be worldwide successes like “Inside Out,” “Foxcatcher” and “Blue is the Warmest Color.”


What are the award categories?

The festival is broken down into several sections: The Official Selection (the main event), Parallel Sections, Other Sections and Events. Below is a list of the awards given out for each film section.

  • In Competition
    • Feature Films
      • Palme d’Or – Best film
      • Grand Prix – Grand prize of the festival
      • The Jury Prize
      • Best Director
      • Best Screenplay
      • Best Actress
      • Best Actor
    • Short Films
      • Palme d’Or – Best film
  • Un Certain Regard
    • Prize of Un Certain Regard
    • Jury Prize – Un Certain Regard
    • Directing Prize of Un Certain Regard
    • Un Certain Talent Prize
    • Promizing Future Prize Ex-aequo
  •  Cinéfondation
    • 1st Prize Cinéfondation
    • 2nd Prize Cinéfondation
    • 3rd Prize Cinéfondation Ex-aequo
  • Golden Camera
    • Caméra d’or


How are the films awarded?

A jury that is assigned by the Board of Directors chooses the winners of each film category. There is a different jury for each section and the jury for the main event (Feature Films) is made up of a president and film/art personalities. This year’s president is Australian director, writer and producer George Miller. You may know his recent Academy Award winning work, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, which debuted at Cannes last year. The rest of the 2016 Feature Films jury includes notable members of the film community like Kirsten Dunst, Vanessa Paradis and Donald Sutherland.

What films should you look out for?

  1. Café Society – Director Woody Allen opened the non-competition section of the film festival with his newest film that shows Jessie Eisenberg as a young man in Hollywood during the 1930’s.
  2. Money Monster – George Clooney and Julia Roberts star in this drama about a man who takes a newsroom hostage after losing money on Wall Street.
  3. American Honey – Sasha Lane leads this film as a young girl that joins a traveling magazine sales group.
  4. The Nice Guys – Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe are two detectives trying to solve a missing person case in this 1970’s crime drama.
  5. The BFG – Steven Spielberg brings Ronald Dahl’s stories to life in this film about a young girl and her adventure with a giant.


If you’re interested in submitting a film to the festival look out the requirements and get an entry form here. Check out all the films being shown at Cannes this year and comment which one you’re most excited about!

You can get up-to-date coverage and from the Cannes website and watch the Closing Ceremony live on May 22th at 7:15 PM via Canal+.


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