As the Cannes Film Festival begins its second week of movie premieres and showings, it also is celebrating its 70th anniversary. At the same time, it’s also a milestone year for Film Cincinnati, marking 30 years in the movie business.
First, let’s celebrate Cannes’ anniversary. Seventy years ago, Cannes became the center of the film industry with its first film festival in 1946. Ironically, the festival was supposed to debut in 1939, but World War II put it on hold. France’s government wanted to bring tourists back to the French Riviera after the war, so the Cannes Film Festival was reborn.
In all, 18 nations were represented during that first edition. Some of the films shown at that inaugural festival were “Anna and the King of Siam” with Rex Harrison; David Lean’s “Brief Encounter” and the Vivien Leigh-Claude Rains version of “Caesar and Cleopatra.”
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Cannes—two early festivals were canceled for economic reasons, for example--but once the Palais des Festivals became the permanent home, the festival grew in prestige. With the introduction of the Palme d’Or award for best film, Cannes became known by the 1950s as the home of the most prestigious film festival in the world.
During its run this year, Cannes will see more than 30,000 fans and movie industry insiders crowd its narrow streets (and they’re REALLY narrow)—that’s about 100 times the number who showed up for the very first festival.
This year’s Cannes festival is a special one as well for Film Cincinnati, since for the second time in three years a Cincinnati-made film is up for the Palme d’Or. Two years ago, it was Todd Haynes’ “Carol.” This year, it’s Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell’s drama, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” That’s a special honor for Film Cincinnati, especially since “Sacred Deer” goes into its debut here at Cannes as one of the favorites to win the best film prize.
The 30th anniversary is a time to celebrate for Film Cincinnati, which has such blockbusters as “Rainman” and “Eight Men Out” on its resume. Most recently films like George Clooney’s “Ides of March,” “Miles Ahead” with Don Cheadle and Haynes’ “Carol” have helped promote Cincinnati worldwide as a movie production destination. Upcoming features such as “The Life and Times of John Gotti,” “Mercy” and “The Public” are expected to raise Cincinnati’s profile as a viable site even more.
Everyone who is anyone in the film business is here in Cannes this week, not just to celebrate the accomplishments of the actors and directors who have their film shown here, but to start planning for the next movie. That’s why Film Cincinnati is here as well: To meet with producers, directors and anyone interested in making Cincinnati their next movie destination. The film business is thriving in Greater Cincinnati—10 movies last year alone with an economic impact of nearly $40 million. It’s the best year yet for movies, but as Film Cincinnati’s Kristen Schlotman says, “We’re just getting started.”