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

Cinema Sep 19, 2019

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

Festival de Cannes

Also, it's now easier for any film from any country's curatorship to reach different regions of the world.

But let's situate ourselves in the mid-twentieth century, before the outbreak of the Second World War, when the film industry was used as a "weapon" for nationalist rivalries, rather than as a means to spread 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, where it began to favor German and Italian productions.

Legend has it that several French directors had a tantrum at the event because they hoped that Jean Renoir's 'The Great Illusion' would win the festival's top prize, but that was not the case, and so, together with English and American filmmakers, they decided that they would make their own film event, in which politics and art would not be mixed.

That's how an organizing committee came into being, which was given the task of setting up a curatorship with several French cities as candidates for headquarters: Aix-les-Bains, Algiers, Biarritz, Lucerne, Ostend, Vichy, and Cannes.

The latter undertook to increase its financial contribution with respect to that offered by the other cities and even to build a palace specially dedicated to the realization of the festival.

By June 1939, Louis Lumière had agreed to chair the event, which would take place from 1 to 20 September, and declared that he wanted "to encourage the development of cinematographic art in all its forms and to create a spirit of collaboration between film-producing countries".

The French selection included 'Angels of Hell' (Christian-Jaque), 'Ghost Cars' (Julien Duvivier), 'La Loi du Nord' (Jacques Feyder) and 'Man of Niger' (Baroncelli Jacques).

As for foreign films, there was 'The Wizard of Oz' by Victor Fleming, 'Pacific Union' by Cecil B. DeMille, 'Adiós Mr. Chips' by Sam Wood and 'Cuatro feumas blancas' by Zoltan Korda.

A month after the festival began, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer rented an ocean liner to transport several celebrities, but on September 1, as already mentioned, the day it was to be the inauguration of the event, 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 took place, 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 be held between April and May, to have its own space and not join other curatorships, including the aforementioned Mostra de Venecia.

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

It is also space where producers and distributors find partners to finance their projects and sell the works already produced to distributors and television stations all over the world. The primary screenings take place at the Palais des Festivals et Congresses, located on the promenade of La Croisette.

Of the Cannes awards, the Palme d'Or (Palme d'Or) is the highest prize awarded in the competition section, which until 1955 bore the name "Grand Prix du Festival."

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

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

'María Candelaria' (Emilio "el Indio" Fernández/México/1944)

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

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

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

The girl 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 his romance is at the mercy of several jokes of fate.

The film ranks 37th on the list "The 100 Best Films of Mexican Cinema," published on July 1994 by the extinct magazine Somos, based on the opinion of 25 critics and specialists of the Seventh Art.

'La dolce vita' (Federico Fellini/Italy/1960)

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

It was censored in several countries because it was considered "obscene." For example, it arrived in Spain until 1980, 20 years after its premiere.

'Viridiana' (Luis Buñuel/Spain-Mexico/1961)

It tells the story of Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), a novice about to take the habits that live several misfortunes when she visits her uncle, Don Jaume (Fernando Rey).

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

'El gatopardo' (Luchino Visconti/Italy/1963)

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

It is set in the era of the unification of Italy around Piedmont, whose plot focuses on Palermo.

It is one of the leading European films of the 1960s, as it also won several awards from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.

'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 make a living as a taxi driver during the night.

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

'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 serves as a starting point for approaching the world of independent cinema.

'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 height of his career when the Second World War suddenly breaks out, with the invasion of Poland by the Nazis.

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

'The Tree of Life' (Terrence Malick/United States/2011)

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

As he grows up, he distances himself emotionally from his father (Brad Pitt), who trains him for a hostile world; an opposite case with his mother (Jessica Chastain), who is kind and affectionate to him.

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

Tony

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