1) World War II shuts down the festival
The Cannes Film Festival had originally started to counter the Venice Film Festival. France had scheduled the inauguration of the festival in the first two weeks of September, 1939. However, Hitler would have none of that and on the morning of the first premiere, he attacked Poland. “Hunchback”, the first film, was shown but the rest of the festival was cancelled for what turned out to be a 7-year hiatus. It finally returned in 1946 with 11 films, but the opening night was a complete disaster. “Berlin”, a Soviet documentary, broke in the projector and then the power went out. Alfred Hitchcock's “Notorious” was not among the winners as its reels were shown out of order.
2) French auteur lead May '68 protest
The year 1968 was the festival's 21st birthday. However, that year the festival fell victim to France's civil unrest. Filmmakers lead by figureheads Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard had been incensed by the dismissal of the 'Cinematheque Francaise' head Henri Langlois in February, and instigated protests that led to his reinstatement. However, due to the strike many directors started pulling their films out of the festival. After the first week, the festival was called off as local employees were on strike and gasoline was unavailable. This led to all the festival goers trying to strategize to cross the border to Italy.
3) Robert Mitchum poses on the beach with a topless starlet
In 1954, the unknown starlet Symone Sylva, during a beach photoshoot, removed her top and snuck over to nearby Robert Mitchum who then proceeded to continue the shoot with her being topless. The next morning, when Sylva posted the photos along the Croisette, she was asked to leave Cannes but the photos remain iconic to this day.
4) Grace Kelly meets Prince Rainier
Kelly, who had spent the summer of 1954 staying at the Carlton Hotel with Cary Grant and Hitchcock while shooting “To Catch A Thief”, didn't want to go Cannes to represent the Motion Picture of America at Cannes. Later she was talked into it, and met Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1955. This was eventually promoted as the Fairytale Romance of the Century, as she married him the following year. She never made another film.
5) Francois Truffaut ushers in French New Wave
1959 was the year in which the future of French Cinema showed its hand. Banned from Cannes in 1958 for his often vicious attacks on the festival, Truffaut, then a 27-year old film critic, returned a year later to win the 'Best Director Prize' for his debut feature “The 400 Blows”, which also introduced the world to the 13-year old Jean-Pierre Leaud.
6) Olivia De Havilland becomes the first female Jury President
British actress De Havilland once stated that she “hasn't a clue” as to why she was picked to break the Cannes Glass ceiling and become the first woman to lead the Festival Jury in 1965. She added that she found the experience daunting and delightful at the same time.
7) Quentin Tarantino gets his first “Pulp Fiction” review on the streets of Cannes
The anticipated film at Cannes in 1994 was “Pulp Fiction”. Before Cannes, not a soul outside the Miramax Camp had seen it, but at the last minute a private invitational screening for a few critics was set up at backstreet Olympia the night before the official unveiling.
8) Charles and Diana steal the show
I987 was the 40th year for Cannes and it desperately needed a buzz. The saviors arrived in the form of Prince Charles and Princess Diana who arrived to honor the British Film Day. It was Diana's floor-length blue Catherine Walter chiffon gown that was the most talked about thing that day.
9) Francis Coppola wins 'Half A Palm'
Rumor has it that Coppola told Cannes he would only let the festival screen his “Apocalypse Now” if he was guaranteed to win. However, “The Tin Drum” ended up as a surprise joint win with “Apocalypse Now”. Coppola wasn't happy about it and as he shook Jacob's hand, he said, “I have won half a palm.”
10) Harvey and Liz launch Amfar
When the first Amfar AIDS benefit was held at May 20, 1993, in the legendary Moulin De Mougins, Elizabeth Taylor, was among the honorary co-chairs, with Michael Douglas and Mathilde Krim. The event was an immediate success and has been a glittering highlight at the Cannes ever since.
11) Spike Lee rages when he loses to Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh's “Sex, Lies & Videotape” took the Palme. However, Lee was not pleased and had to be talked out of picketing the ceremony. After Jury President Wim Wenders criticized the film's lead character, Lee said he had “a Loiusville Slugger (baseball bat)” at home with Wim's name on it.
12) Lars Von Trier vs. Everyone
Lars Von Trier outdid himself at 2011 Cannes when he made a joke about sympathizing with Hitler, and that got him banned from the festival. Peter Albeck Jensen, a producer and longtime production partner had said, “Just before he went to the press conference, I told Lars: You have made a great film. If you can just keep your mouth shut, you'll win the Palme.”
13) The Brown Bunny really blows
Vincent Gallo made into the competition with one of the worst films in the history of the festival. It was a low-budget, indulgent home movie that climaxed with a prolonged close-up scene of Gallo on the receiving end of an implicit scene by a not-very-happy-looking Chloe Sevigny.
14) Milla Jovovich suffers a wardrobe malfunction and Demi Moore comes to the rescue
Milla Jovovich was so starstruck by Demi and Bruce Willis that when she turned to walk the Red Carpet, her gown began to come undone. But Demi Moore had a sewing kit with her which she used to fix the dress while they ducked behind Chris Tucker and Bruce Willis.
15) Kirk Douglas meets his future wife
Although the 1953 photos of Kirk Douglas and Brigitte Bardot frolicking on the beach was already seen around the world, he was actually busy falling in love with Anne Buydens who had just joined Cannes as the Head of Protocol.
16) “E.T” closes the Old Palais on an emotional note
Steven Spielberg's heartwarming portrait of a misunderstood alien closed the festival on May 26, 1982. The audience were already on their feet 15 minutes before the film ended and were lighting cigarettes and stomping their feet.
17) Jane Campion becomes the first and only woman to win the Palme d'Or
The Boys Club was finally cracked in 1993 when Jane Campion's “The Piano” managed a tie with Chen Kaige's “Farewell My Concubine”. 24 years later, no woman has still won another Palme d'Or.
18) Tenessee Williams talks against violence, but “Taxi Driver” still wins
The jury Chairman Tenessee Williams had said the films were getting too violent. But “Taxi Driver” won the Palme d'Or anyway amidst the cheers and boos.
19) Sacha Baron Cohen walks the beach in a 'mankini'
After more than 50 years of Brigitte Bardot gracing the beach of Cannes in a bikini, Sacha Baron Cohen wore the male thong, known as 'mankini' to promote Borat! Fangirls were certainly delighted!
20) “Fahrenheit 9/11” takes the top honor
When Michael Moore's “Fahrenheit 9/11” won the Palme d'Or in 2004, it was the 2nd time a doc took the top prize. The first time Moore took to stage in 2002 to accept a special prize for “Bowling for Columbine”; he made the error of trying to give his acceptance speech in broken French.
21) Counterculture arrives in Cannes
Lindsay Anderson's edgy take on a private school revolution, “If….”, starring Malcolm Mcdowell in his feature debut, may have snagged 1969's Palme d'Or, but it was the hard-partying cast of “Easy Rider”, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, who defined the counterculture vibe that year.
22) Cannes introduces the Palme d'Or
Cannes hasn't always proffered its greatest accolade, the Palme d'Or. In 1946, 45 features were officially presented, 11 of which shared what was called the Grand Prix. The following year the winners were broken down by genre, musicals, animation and documentaries. The Grand Prix returned and prevailed until Marty, and was awarded the very first Palme d'Or.
23) Security thwarts a bomb threat
In 1978, the festival saw the closest brush with a terrorism threat. An explosive device was discovered under the stage before the closing ceremony. No one was hurt and the culprit to this day remains a mystery.
24) Godard takes a pie to the face
Jean Luc Godard got a fan pan in the form of a literal pie to the face in 1985. Belgian pastry activist Noel Godin took aim at Godard because he was disappointed by the director's religious turn in “Hail Mary”.
25) Vatican condemns Fellini's 'pornographic' “La Dolce Vita”
When Cannes gave its top honor to the now classic portrayal of decadent Italians, the Vatican responded by branding the film 'pornographic'. Needless to say, scandals followed.
26) Taking aim at Palme d'Or winner Viridiana
A year after provoking the Pope with the La Dolce Vita, the Festival Jury handed the Palme d'Or to Luis Bunuel's “Viridiana”, a dark comedy about a novice nun and her lecherous uncle that the Vatican branded as blasphemous. Of course, more scandals followed.
27) Some unknown body builder strikes a pose
In 1977, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was at the festival promoting “Pumping Iron”, walked down the beach with no clothes on, with girls from the Crazy Horse club. He later joked about how he would love to recreate the photo.
28) Howard Stern's “Private Parts” looms over the beach
In an effort to promote his 1997 biopic “Private Parts”, Stern jetted to Cannes to pitch the project to European Markets. The promotional plan involved inflating a 40-foot balloon of a stark-naked Stern perched on a barge anchored near the beach. But the then-President of France was to visit Cannes that year and his security detail claimed the balloon to be to vulgar. So Stern had to take it down and then re-inflate it once the President left.
29) Michael Caine's “Alfie” stunt bottoms out
The young star of “Alfie” sat nonchalantly while a bevy of young women wearing white trousers bearing the film's name on their left butt-cheek swarmed around him. “Alfie” won a Jury Prize but Caine came away with nothing which made him snub Cannes for almost fifty years.
30) Madonna debuts her pointy bra for “Truth Or Dare”
Madonna walked the steps at the Palais in 1991 draped in a Jean-Paul Gaultier cape for the world premiere of the Alek Keshishian-directed documentary of Madonna named “Truth Or Dare”. She surprised the crowd by revealing an instantly iconic ensemble; the white Gaultier pointy bra and knickers.
31) Cannes creates selection committees
One of Cannes’ most dismal years, qualitatively, was nonetheless highly significant, in that new 'General Delegate' Maurice Bessy mercifully abandoned the antiquated system of having nations submit films to the festival for consideration. In its place, Bessy created two in-house selection committees; one for French films and one for international.
32) Lars Von Trier vs. Everyone (Part 2)
When the winning of the Palme d'Or by Barton Fink started a new wave of US indie films dominating the festival throughout the 90s, Von Trier was furious as he only received the Third Place Jury Prize for his film “Europa”. He even insulted the Jury President Roman Polanski by calling him a midget.
33) “Moulin Rouge!” throws one of the most memorable after-parties ever
Baz Luhrmann brought his song-and-dance spectacle “Moulin Rouge!” to the Palais on May 9, 2001, for a wildly celebratory night that featured an electric after-party courtesy of dancers from the film and music by DJ Fatboy Slim.
34) Michael Jackson reveals his “ghosts”
In 1997, the King of Pop made his first and only appearance in Cannes for a short film; essentially an extended music video called “Ghosts”. The bizarre, 39-minute effort, which was co-written by horror maestro Stephen King and directed by makeup wizard Stan Winston, saw Jackson playing multiple parts, including a mysterious figure with supernatural powers called the Maestro and a chubby small town mayor.
35) The controversies
“Irreversible” had France's 'it' couple Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel in 2002 Cannes Competition entry. The back-to-front revenge drama featured some of the most disturbing scenes ever put on screen, including a 10-minute rape scene. People were outraged at the film, but the scandal ultimately worked in the film's favor. It was a huge hit both home and abroad.
36) Jerry Seinfield flies over the Croisette dressed as a bee
The most talked-about marketing stunt in the history of the festival was done by Seinfield, star of DWA's “Bee Movie”, when he flew off from the Carlton roof in May 2007 fully clad in a bumblebee suit.
37) For its 60th edition, 35 auteur short films are premiered
The 60th anniversary of Cannes was marked as an influential and powerful festival by 35 directors who made three-minute short films based on the theme of going to the cinema. The 35 directors also included Roman Polanski, Lars von Trier, Ken Loach, David Cronenberg, the Coen brothers, Jane Campion, Gus Van Sant and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
38) Lindsay Lohan parties despite being on probation
Despite being due in court for a probation progress report, Lindsay Lohan skipped her flight back to the states claiming her passport to be stolen and attended the festival instead. An arrest warrant was then issued by a judge in L.A. which attracted a lot of attention to Lindsay Lohan from the paparazzi.
39) Clint goes late-night barhopping on Croisette
The appearance of “Pale Rider” in 1985 meant that Clint Eastwood had become the biggest movie star in the world. In the midst of all the tight security and paparazzi, Clint went out for a walk in town at midnight, hopping from one place to the next, and finally ending up in the Carlton lobby very late at night.
40) The year of jewel thefts and gunfire
2013 was a year of crime for Cannes; a safe broken through from the wall of the Novotel that had $1 million in jewelries, a group of burglars outwitting 80 Hotel du Cap security to set free a $2.6 million De Grisogono necklace, a man rushing onstage, and firing a gun while Christoph Waltz was being interviewed live. So much chaos!
41) Presenter shocks Woody Allen with rape joke
Host Laurent Lafitte surprised Allen when she said, “It's very nice that you've been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the US.” The host claimed that she didn't know Woody Allen had allegations of sexual abuse against him and that her line was directed at Roman Polanski.
42) Ryan Gosling does mouth-to-mouth on his director
During the 2011 festival, filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn referred Ryan Gosling as his favorite “alter-ego”. Later at the photo call, Gosling grabbed Refn and gave him a big smooch on the lips.
43) A director wins gold and insults the crowd
The press screening of “Under the Sun of Satan” by Mauric Pialat was heavily criticized by left-wing French journalists. Pialat and his wife Sylvie left the show early only to be recalled by the festival PR. The film received the Palme d'Or prize and when Pialat took the stage to receive the prize, he was greeted by a chorus of boos at which point Pialat said, “If you don't like me, I can tell you, I don't like you either.”
44) David Cronenberg's divisive “Crash” earns special award for 'audacity'
“Crash” is a film which talks about a subculture that finds erotic satisfaction in car wrecks. As weird as it sounds, the film received so many controversies that the Cannes organizers in 1996 opened a new one-time-only award for this film (a panel of Jury Award for 'daring and audacity').
45) Prankster sneaks under America Ferrera's dress
In 2014, Ukrainian Vitalii Sediuk snuck onto the red carpet for “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and put his head up actress Ferrera's dress. Sediuk was later dragged off by security.
46) Businessman is accused of running a prostitution ring
In August 2007, police broke into the hotel room of the Lebanese businessman Elie Nahas in Carlton and arrested him on charges of being involved in undertaking a prostitution ring.
47) Socialite is kicked off the carpet
At the presentation of “Blood Ties” in 2013, Lady Victoria Hervey had an altercation with the security because she was irritated that the socialite was taking too long to pose in the fest's fast-paced red carpet. “You're not allowed to walk down just doing one side and go back and do the other, so I will not attempt that again”, she says.
48) Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood drive the press crazy
Beatty and his then-girlfriend Woody were considered as the most glamorous couple at the festival during the premiere of “All Fall Down” in 1962. However, the couple rarely left their room at Carlton which lead to one gossip columnist to make the remark, “Elle est au lit Wood”, which means, “She is Hollywood”, or “Wood is in bed.”
49) Claudia Cardinale kisses a real leopard
While endorsing the 1963 Palme d'Or winning film “The Leopard” by Luchino Visconti, the actress tried to kiss a leopard. “This is not a cat. Are you crazy?” she recalled.
50) The cast of “Expendables 3” rolls down the Croisette in three tanks
In order to get three tanks into the festival, producer Avi Lerner had to sign an affidavit to the government of France. “I had to sign an affidavit to the Government of France that we're not going to take over the country. It was the biggest stunt, I think, Cannes ever had,” Lerner had said.
51) Menahem Golan drives a hard bargain
Todd McCarthy worked at Golan-Globus in 1978 soliciting ads for the French trade “Le Film Francais”. Golan owed tens of thousands of dollars, however. Golan knew how to put on a good vanishing act. When confronted later by a persistent Todd McCarthy, Golan agreed to pay 50% of what he owed.
52) Alfred Hitchcock appears in the lineup with “The Birds”
Director Alfred Hitchcock along with “The Bird” star Tippi Hedren released 400 pigeons outside the Carlton for the film's premiere in 1963.
53) Kanye West performs at an over-the-top Red Granite party
With the likes of DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Adrien Broody and John Hamm in the crowd, and with West and Jamie Foxx onstage singing “Gold Digger”, the launch party of the trouble Red Granite at Carlton Beach in 2011 was one of the most audacious and expensive parties in Cannes history.
54) Cannes honors Jean-Paul Belmondo
The legendary French actor was 78 in 2011 when the festival paid tribute to his career. He remembers it fondly: “All the photographers alongside the red carpet put their cameras down to applaud me.”
55) Kathy Burke gets an assist from Luc Besson
Kathy Burke got a call from Gary Oldman, her director from “Nil by Mouth”, who was at Cannes in 1997. “The next thing I knew, I was booked on a private jet, which I think belonged to Luc Besson,” recalls Burke.
56) Director Felix van Groeningen leads naked cyclists through the streets
The Belgian director's comedy “The Misfortunates” had been selected for Directors' Fortnight in 2009. He decided to promote his film in the most absurd way possible. “We decided to go for it a couple of hours before the press conference. We got undressed in Directors' Fortnight office and rode down the Croisette and back. A motorcycle was following us with our underpants, in case we got arrested,” commented the director after the stunt.
57) The Salkinds promote “Superman” three years in a row
Alexander Salkind and his son, Ilya, hired prop planes in 1975, trailing banners with the film's title to attract attention at the Croisette. In 1976, they flew even more planes. And by 1977, with filming finally underway, they released a fleet of planes, numbering at about 40.
58) “Trainspotting” parties all night
When “Trainspotting” was screened in 1996, the film gained huge positive reviews. David Blaine was spotted smashing the watch of “Working Title” boss Tim Bevan in the decadent and star-studded after-party. While Leftfield DJ'd to the likes of DiCaprio, Elton John, Mick Jagger, and David Aukin, the then-head of Channel 4 Films admits to having only 'vague' memories of that night.
59) Graham King gets mugged at the Du Cap
Graham was in Cannes in 2007 to promote his new banner GK Films when one night he returned to his villa to find it being turned upside-down by four masked robbers. King lost his cash, watches, passport and several items that were never recovered.
60) Robert Altman screams at juror Pauline Kale
Kale's first and last visit to Cannes was as a member of the Jury considering a selection of films that included Altman's “3 Women”. But Shelley Duvall's performance won the only award conferred upon the film in 1977. When Altman spotted Kale at the Nice Airport the next day, he screamed, “You f---ing c---, you were supposed to be my friend, you were going to get me the Palme d'Or!”, and on and on.
61) Morgan Creek cancels its long running brunch
The production company's posh brunch was a Cannes staple for decades, with invitees such as Antoine Fuqua, Jim Sheridan and Irwin Winkler over the years. But it ended in 2011. Winkler must have had a falling-out with Morgan Creek topper James G. Robinson.
62) The pigeon stunt of “24 Hour Party People” goes awry
To promote the British comedy in 2002, producers doled out bags filled with hundreds of fake pigeons replicating a scene from the film, in which a character poisons thousands of birds. The stunt had caught the attention of the Coen brothers, who were having lunch nearby. “One of the pigeons apparently landed on their table,” says cast member Paul Popplewell, “And apparently they thought it was f---ing hilarious.”
63) Van Damme vs. Lundgren (but no, not really)
Dolph Lundgren and his “Universal Soldier” co-star Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1992 used the Cannes Red Carpet for some impromptu publicity. Then the two, who had been rumored to be at odds during production, planned a staged fight on the steps of the formal staircase.
64) Fake terror attack at the du Cap
In a clearly ill-advised stunt in 2016, French company Oraxy sent six men in ISIS-like militia gear and black helmets on a speedboat to storm the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc to promote its high-end broadband capabilities.
65) “Muriel's Wedding” holds a mock wedding reception
The after-party for “Muriel's Wedding” in 1994 remains as one of Canne's best remembered. “It was fabulous,” recalls Film 4 head Daniel Battsek, who was then at Buena Vista International. “The movie created a phenomenal atmosphere, and that was carried on into the party.”
66) Ken Loach wins his second Palme d'Or (and celebrates in typical Loach fashion)
When Loach won his first Palme d'or, for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” in 2006, he celebrated with a cup of tea. 10 years later, his film “I, Daniel Blake” won the second Palme d'Or. “I think we just found a little café, not in the smart area, and had something very simple”, he had said.
67) Uggie wins the Palme Dog
Jean Dujardin's Palme d'Or for Best Actor in 2011 for “The Artist” wasn't the first hint the film would be an award contender. Just a couple of days earlier, Uggie, the film's four-legged hero, claimed Cannes' coveted Palme Dog.
68) Selfies are banned on the Red Carpet
Festival director Thierry Fremaux kicked off the 2015 Festival by banning selfies on the Red Carpet. Selfie shots would not be completely prohibited but they would be discouraged as they caused a bottleneck on the carpet before the Gala screenings.
69) Women are turned away for wearing flats to premieres
During the 2015 Cannes Festival, reports claimed that one Red Carpet attendee had been turned away for wearing ankle boots and another for wearing sandals.
70) Shia LaBeouf has an impromptu dance-off
The usually refined red carpet was transformed into a dance party in 2016 by the youngest cast of “American History”. As the DJ played E-40's “Choices (Yup)”, Sasha Lane, Riley Keough and Shia LaBeouf got their groove on.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Compiled by Amira Amin and Araf Zahin