The Cannes Film Festival

By Jackie Reau, Publisher/Editor

This year, the Cannes Film Festival marked its 70th anniversary from May 17-28 in the coastal town that sits in the South of France, known as the Cote d’Azur between Nice and St. Tropez. 

The Cannes Film Festival is arguably the most important event for the film industry and certainly for Cannes’ economy. Over the two weeks of the festival, the population of Cannes swells from about 70,000 to just over 200,000. The economic impact for Cannes is $80 million and more than $200 million for France (US dollars). It’s also estimated that more than $1 billion in transactions through film distribution are made over the two weeks through networking events and the Marche du Film.

With more than 1,000 movies projected, 32,000 accredited film professionals and nearly 5,000 journalists covering the event, it is on the same scale as the Olympics and World Cup (in terms of media coverage).

But the two most important items on the list for visitors to the Cannes Film Festival: Getting a ticket and watching the red carpet arrivals. Both are a true sport.

Red Carpet Gazing

The red carpet arrivals are along the Croisette (the heart of Cannes along the Mediterranean) in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, which is the convention center in Cannes, and the venue for the Film Festival. Most of the arrivals begin at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. each evening. The Festival is very fan friendly and offers space for fans to stand along the drive way and there are big screens televising the coverage. It’s an electric environment and photo friendly for celebrities, industry vets and fans of film.

Getting a Ticket to a Film

If you are not a guest of one of the movie production companies or do not hold a coveted industry accreditation badge, getting a ticket to a screening at the Palais will take some charm, timing and a lot of luck. Capacity for the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is 2,300 so space is limited.

I first noticed the “invitation” signs that people dressed in tuxedos and formal wear were holding up near the entrance to the red carpet arrival staging area. In America, these signs would indicate tickets for sale through “scalpers,” but not in Cannes (selling tickets is strictly forbade). It’s key to dress like you are going to the screening. It’s a glitzy area and you want to blend in.

On the evening of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” I made my “invitation” sign, dressed in formal wear and headed to the red carpet. With a smile and in a polite voice, I started asking: “blue ticket?” Blue tickets permit entrance without a badge while peach tickets required a badge (a very important fact). With minutes to spare of the gates closing for the KSD 7:30 p.m. premiere, a gentleman whispered in my ear: “blue ticket?” With a mix of English and French, I thanked him and made my way into the coveted 7:30 p.m. screening.

One side note, the tickets are scanned and tracked closely so it’s advantageous for industry reps and movie production reps to have their assigned tickets used or they may be marked for future opportunities.