Cannes Film Festival

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The 70th Cannes Film Festival kicks off on May 19, with no less than Pedro Almodóvar playing the role of President of the Jury.

This edition promises to be as exciting, passionate and glamorous as ever and as we wait with baited breath for what is arguably Europe’s most respected celebration of film, Marisa Cutillas recalls some of Cannes’ most unforgettable moments…

1939: A Cancelled First Edition
Film historiographers often cite the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival as having taken place in 1946, yet the first official attempt took place in 1939. The Festival, to be presided by Louis Lumière (one of the first filmmakers in history), was postponed when Hitler invaded Poland and set off one of the bloodiest wars in World history.

1954: Keeping Abreast of Things
Fame-hungry actress, Simone Silva, gave the Festival one of its most alluring photographs by taking off her top during a photocall, and cuddling up to a delighted Robert Mitchum. Silva claimed that the photographers begged her to go topless though when she gladly obliged, a violent scuffle ensued, resulting in injury for many.

1955: The birth of the Palme d’Or
Prior to 1955, the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival was awarded to the Best Director, the award comprising a work by a renowned contemporary artist. In 1954, Robert Favre Le Bret, Delegate General of the Festival’s board, asked top French jewellers to design a palm, which paid homage to the city’s Coat of Arms.

The winning design was that of Lucienne Lazon. In 1955, the first ever Palme d’Or went to Delbert Mann for his emotional film Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine as an ageing bachelor who defies family pressure to pursue the woman he loves. Interestingly, the jury went back to giving the Grand Prix from 1964 to 1974, embracing the Palme once again in 1975 owing to its profound symbolism…

Words Marisa Cutillas

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