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What is Cannes, how can I attend, and how do I pronounce it?

Internet Filmmakers' FAQ

Cannes is a city in the south of France on a strip of coastline known as the Côte d'Azur (or more famously, the French Riviera). During May, Cannes plays host to the world's most prestigious film festival, the Festival de Cannes (Cannes Film Festival). In addition to the red carpets, paparazzi and scantily-clad starlets, Cannes is also the world's biggest film industry get-together and therefore an essential calendar date for a large number of filmmakers.

The Cannes Film Festival comprises five main sections: a competitive section, known simply as "Competition"; Un Certain Regard, a showcase section; The Directors' Fortnight, a sidebar organised by a separate organisation focussing on the work of newer filmmakers; The International Critics' Week, another autonomous sidebar; and Cinéfondation, a section for the work of film students. In addition, the Cannes hosts the world's largest film market, the Marché du Film, where the 12 days of the festival sees frenzied buying and selling activities as thousands of films change hands.

To attend the Cannes Film Festival, you must have official festival accreditation. This comes in three main flavours: professional, market, and press. Professional accreditation is the most suitable of the three for independent filmmakers, because it's free! The downside is that in order to obtain professional accreditation, you will need to show evidence of your activities as a professional in the area you are seeking to be accredit for (i.e. producer, director, writer etc). Market accreditation is available to companies which work in the film sector, and provides delegates with additional services and privileges beyond that bestowed through professional accreditation. Press accreditation is only available to certified members of the press. Aside from a small allocation for local residents and French cinema-appreciation societies, there is virtually no access to most official festival events for members of the general public.

Competition for festival screening berths is of course extremely fierce. Anyone can submit a film, but in reality, films which are successful tend to be those which have a full support package in place (i.e. professional sales agent, publicist etc). If selected, screening at Cannes can be expensive because the festival requires two 35mm prints of the film, plus a set of sub-titles in French and English. Printing and sub-titling costs must be met by the film's production company or other appropriate representative.

Cinemagine has produced a comprehensive guide to attending the festival. Check it out at Cannes - A Festival Virgins Guide.

Hopefully you know this already, but if not, remember: "cans" are what you find in a six pack, "Khan" is the bad guy in the second Star Trek movie (Australians, take note!), and "can" is a city in the south of France, famous for its film festival. Cannes is pronounced CAN, as in "can of beer".

For more information on accreditation and film submissions, visit the official festival web site.

Answer by Benjamin Craig  |  Last updated 21-Feb-2005