73 years since the first Cannes Film Festival: an invaluable cinematographic legacy

We are a privileged generation that It has a huge range of options in terms of film festivals around the world and of all kinds: independent films, commercial films, auteur films, short films, horror films and several that combine options for all tastes.

Furthermore, currently it is easier than any tape from any curator in the country that is, reach different regions of the world.

But let’s place ourselves in the middle of the 20th century, before the Second World War broke out, when the film industry was used as a “weapon” for nationalist rivalries, more than as a means to disseminate the Seventh Art, which, ironically, served to invent the concept of Film Festival as we know it today, since it was in September 1938 that the Venice Festival was organized, place where German and Italian productions began to be favored.

Legend has it that several French filmmakers threw a tantrum at the event because they hoped that Jean Renoir’s ‘The Great Illusion’ would win the festival’s highest award, but it wasn’t, and then, together with British and American filmmakers they decided that they would do their own film event, in which politics and art were not mixed.

It was like this an organizing committee emerged that was given the task of putting together a curatorship with several French cities as candidates for headquarters: Aix-les-Bains, Algiers, Biarritz, Lucerne, Ostend, Vichy and Cannes.

This last, He promised to increase his financial contribution compared to what was offered by the other cities and even to build a palace specially dedicated to the festival..

By June 1939, none other than Louis Lumière agreed to preside over the event, which would take place from September 1 to 20, and stated that it wanted to “encourage the development of cinematographic art in all its forms and create a spirit of collaboration between film-producing countries.”

The French national team it included ‘Hell’s Angels’ (Christian-Jaque), ‘Ghost Cars’ (Julien Duvivier), ‘La Loi du Nord’ (Jacques Feyder) and ‘Man from Niger’ (Baroncelli Jacques).

Regarding foreign films, there were ‘The Wizard of Oz’ by Victor Fleming, ‘Pacific Union’ by Cecil B. DeMille, ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’ by Sam Wood and ‘Four White Feathers’ by Zoltan Korda.

A month after the festival started, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer rented an ocean liner to transport various celebrities, but on September 1, as already mentioned, the day that was to be the opening of the event, the German troops enter Poland to start the war and the festival is canceled.

But On September 20, 1946, a few months after the end of the war, the first edition of the Cannes International Film Festival was held., which took place until October 5.

After several editions, the French festival managed to consolidate itself as a prestigious independent film space worldwide, so it was decided that the event should take place between April and May, in order to have its own space and not connect with other curatorships, among them the aforementioned Venice Film Festival.

American director Michael Moore with his Palme d’Or for his documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11”, awarded at the 57th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Source: AP Photo / Laurent Rebours.

Each edition of Cannes, representatives of the film industry and thousands of journalists move to the French city to attend the event.

What’s more, is a space where producers and distributors find partners to finance their projects and sell the works already produced to distributors and broadcasters around the world. The main screenings take place at the Palais des Festivals et Congresses, located on Passeig de La Croisette.

Of the Cannes awards, the Palme d’Or (Palme d’Or) is the highest award which is delivered in the competition section, which until 1955 bore the name “Grand Prix du Festival”.

In conclusion, together with the Venice show, the Cannes Film Festival is a pioneer in the field of cinematographic curatorships, which has remained in force and continues to be a benchmark for discovering high quality international cinema.

The most famous films that have won the Palme d’Or

1. ‘María Candelaria’ (Emilio “el Indio” Fernández / Mexico / 1944)

It is a Mexican film that the director gave as a birthday present to actress Dolores del Río, who was also the protagonist along with Pedro Armendáriz.

It begins when a reporter asks an artist about the portrait he has never wanted to talk about, which shows a beautiful naked woman.

At that time, the artist tells the story of María Candelaria, a young indigenous woman from Xochimilco who lived at the beginning of the 20th century.

The young woman is rejected by her own people because she is the daughter of a prostitute. And the only one who accepts her is Lorenzo Rafael, also a young indigenous man who is in love with her, but their romance is at the mercy of various jokes of fate.

The film occupies the 37th place on the list “The 100 best films of Mexican cinema”, published in July 1994 by the extinct magazine Somos, based on the opinion of 25 critics and specialists of the Seventh Art.

2. ‘La dolce vita’ (Federico Fellini / Italy / 1960)

Set in Rome, it tells the story of a journalist who hunts down the great celebrities of the Italian elite to get the best grade before anyone else.

It was censored in several countries as it was considered “obscene”. For example, it arrived in Spain until 1980, that is, 20 years after its premiere.

3. ‘Viridiana’ (Luis Buñuel / Spain-Mexico / 1961)

It tells the story of Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), a novice about to take on the habits who experiences various misadventures when she visits her uncle, Don Jaume (Fernando Rey).

It was the first film by a Spanish filmmaker to win the Palme d’Or.

4. ‘El gatopardo’ (Luchino Visconti / Italy / 1963)

It is an adaptation of the homonymous novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

It is set in the time of the unification of Italy around Piedmont, whose plot is centered in Palermo.

It is one of the leading films in European cinema of the sixties, as it also won several awards from the Italian National Union of Cinematographic Journalists.

5. ‘Taxi Driver’ (Martin Scorsese / United States / 1976)

Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a Vietnam veteran living in New York.

The character suffers, among other psychological disorders, chronic insomnia, so he decides to earn a living as a taxi driver at night.

A fascinating story that is always present on any list that includes the best films of all time, which made De Niro’s mirror scene a film icon and Jodie Foster’s brilliant performance as a child prostitute a springboard to her acting career.

6. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (Quentin Tarantino / United States / 1994)

It is considered by many to be Tarantino’s masterpiece, thanks to its entertaining dialogues, its games with narrative, its violence and black humor.

It is also a film that works as a starting point to get closer to the world of independent cinema.

7. ‘The pianist’ (Roman Polanski / France / 2002)

Adrien Brody stars in this drama in which he plays the Polish musician of Jewish origin, Władysław Szpilman, who is at the peak of his career when World War II suddenly breaks out, with the Nazis’ invasion of Poland.

At that moment, his family is taken to a concentration camp and he is forced to endure a series of endless misfortunes.

8. ‘The tree of life’ (Terrence Malick / United States / 2011)

It tells the story of an American family in the 1950s, which stars the eldest son, Jack (Hunter McCracken).

During his growth, he emotionally distanced himself from his father (Brad Pitt), who trains him for a hostile world; a totally opposite case with his mother (Jessica Chastain), who is kind and loving with him.

Already when Jack is an adult (played by Sean Penn), he becomes a subject full of questions about the meaning of life and in a state of permanent existential crisis.