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Celebrity

What Is the Cannes Film Festival and Why Is It Important?

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So what is it about the Cannes Film Festival that brings Nicole Kidman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kristen Stewart and dozens of other stars to the South of France?

Well, there’s glamour, as seen in this fabulous hype video. And beautiful people, gorgeous dresses and yacht parties on the Mediterranean.

It’s also big business. Many stars and Hollywood insiders are attending the festival to promote their films, most of which are are making their world premieres at the event. The opening night film this year will feature Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts — a drama about moviemaking.

Getting a film into the festival, which launched on September 20, 1946, is already a mark of prestige, since only a few dozen films from around the world are picked for official screenings out of many submissions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, dealmaking is in full swing involving hundreds of other movies as filmmakers and execs hammer out financing and distribution agreements.

The top films compete for the Palme D’Or, the festival’s grand prize, which has been awarded to such movies as Taxi Driver and Pulp Fiction. Only filmmakers and industry insiders get to walk up the iconic red-carpeted steps at the Palais des Festivals for the black-tie-only premieres; tickets aren’t for sale to the general public.

Thierry Frémaux, the director of the festival, previously told EuroNews that although popular culture breeds “stars” in rapid succession, you often won’t see them at Cannes.

“Nowadays you are a star at the click of a finger. If you present the weather, you are a star … if you do reality TV, you’re a star.”

At Cannes, though, the films are the stars.

“People don’t just come to go to the beach, or to watch the films or for pleasure. They come to work. Buyers, sellers, distributors, producers, directors, all sorts of people,” Frémaux added. “Cannes has to be the place to be. It’s just where it’s all at.”

The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival runs May 17 – 28.