Certain films enter the history of cinema by law. True masterpieces that can only be celebrated in one of the most important cinematographic events in the world: the Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps the most important and coveted for any actor and director. It exudes a prestige and a unique charm, dictated over the years by the presence and celebration of real icons. Many illustrious personalities have passed through Cannes to receive at least one award. The myths all start from here, from that red carpet spread out in style.


  • Cannes Film Festival: the origins of the myth
  • The initial ‘Stop & Go’ of the Cannes Film Festival
  • Personalities and currents within the Cannes Film Festival
  • All awards from the Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival: the origins of the myth

The Cannes Film Festival is a must for all lovers of cinema of a certain depth and of a certain stature.

The first edition of the Festival dates back to 1939 . At first he did not have an easy life because he immediately had to be suspended due to the imminence of the Second World War. It was born at the time in response to an extreme standardization of cinema at an international level , inevitably aligned with fascist ideologies. In fact, all the films competing at the Venice Film Festival, another great event, were characterized by this aspect. If they did not line up they would be automatically excluded from any awards. Although malicious people claim that the Cannes Film Festival was born as France’s ‘response’ to Italy,considering that Venice, then as now, was a very famous city all over the world and risked taking the stage also from a cinematographic point of view. 

In this case, a French film, “ La grande illusion ” by Jean Renoir, meets this sad destiny. Hence the need for a cinema more detached from governmental logic to become more independent and autonomous in terms of content and exclusivity.

The city of Cannes thus becomes the nerve center of a decentralization of the performing power of a certain cinema. The common goal is to provide a cinematographic art open to all forms and possibilities, without any discrimination or constraint.

The initial ‘Stop & Go’ of the Cannes Film Festival

In 1939, as mentioned, the first edition was abruptly interrupted by the advent of the Second World War, so the event had to stop.

From 1945 onwards everything changed and the cadence of the Cannes Film Festival developed on an annual basis. Although, here, we need to make some specifics. Immediately after the Second World War, the finances of all the states, even the victors, were in ruins and, therefore, in 1948 and in the 1950s , for purely economic reasons it was not possible to organize the Cannes Film Festival. In 2020 , however, the edition was not held due to the pandemic.

Apart from these small parentheses, however, at the time of writing not even one edition was skipped. The evolution of cinema, from this point of view, benefits a lot. In the 1940s, worldliness immediately became the master and there was a hand, from this point of view, of Italian neorealism, which was rapidly growing at the time.

Personalities and currents within the Cannes Film Festival

Personalities like Roberto Rossellini monopolized Cannes with their art and their way of making live cinema. The typically Italian documentary version also found space in the 1950s with Vittorio De Sica and his “Miracle in Milan”. Numerous awards have been given to cinematography oriented towards the representation of Italy as a country made up of peasants, emigrants and war veterans. In short, the classic stereotypes that, in part, still exist now. 

In addition to Italian cinema , Brazilian , Asian and, specifically, Soviet currents, attributable to the time of Stalin, were taking shape. The Japanese Kinugasa Teinosuke establishes himself as the new driving force of world cinema, winning the prestigious Grand Prix in 1953 with “The Gate of Hell”.

Among the illustrious personalities in possession of this great recognition, one cannot fail to mention a certain Federico Fellini in his “Dolce vita”. The French nouvelle vague upsets the cinematographic language and renews it in all its forms. A new trend following Italian neorealism.

However, the Italians still rage and this can be seen from the figure of Michelangelo Antonioni who smashed Cannes on several occasions with recurring Palme d’oro on the showcase.

In the 1970s, innovative directors appeared like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola with his “Apocalypse now”, Palme d’Or in 1979. Independent producers subsequently increased and denote a cinematic pluralism that had never been seen before. 

A countercurrent cinema, centered on civil and human battles that change not only the social but also the political physiognomy of the world. The auteur and quality cinema prevails over stereotyped representations aligned with certain logics of previous eras.

The showcase becomes more and more worldly and authoritative both for the actors and for the authors themselves. Italian cinema did not lose its prestige even in the 90s with illustrious directors of the caliber of Nanni Moretti and Gianni Amelio.

All awards from the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is characterized not only by the media exposure of the films in competition, but also and above all by the prestigious awards it proposes . When a film brings home a Palme d’Or , it means that it has reached the highest peak in terms of cinematographic honor.

This award is generally given by professionals in the sector. The same goes for the Grand Prix , another equally coveted prize where representations deserving special attention for the topics covered, attractiveness and originality in the transmission of the same are put on display.

Anyone who makes cinema dreams, one day, of being able to be on the Cannes stage to receive one of the prestigious ones, such as, for example, the best actor or the best actress and the best director or the best screenwriter.

There is also space for short films that enjoy a separate prize, or rather two : the Palme d’Or specifically for short films and the jury prize . LGBT themes, very recurring these days, have their cinematic consistency in the Queer Palm award, awarded to the best feature film that deals with these issues.