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The 65th Cannes Film Festival: A view from the Red Carpet.

The aim of the Cannes International Film Festival is to discover new talents, to promote all types of films and, to develop collaboration among filmmakers. It seeks to improve film industry worldwide and celebrates cinema as “an Art form”.

The Cannes Festival owes much of its current format to its President Gilles Jacob. Throughout the throughout the 1950´s the Festival was becoming gradually more popular due to the attendance of celebrities such as Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot and Cary Grant. In 1978 Jacob wisely began to exploit this tendency as a way of revolutionizing the Festival’s format. At the same time he introduced two important components: the Caméra d’Or award and the Un Certain Regard section. The Caméra d’Or is given for the best first feature film, a film the quality of which suggests that its Director should be encouraged to make another. The Prix Un Certain Regard recognizes young talent and innovative, audacious works. In 1995 Jacob created the Cinéfondation, to inspire and support the next generation of international filmmakers and to facilitate entry of new talents in all areas of filmmaking.

2012 marks the 65th Edition of the Cannes International Film Festival! Today the Festival hosts over 40 filmmaking countries, giving each the chance to showcase the richness of their cinema. The Festival’s activities can be followed online in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the Festival´s “flavour” and, to understand how it operates today, is to recognize that it caters to many interests and has many “autonomous parts”. The Cannes Film Festival is about all aspects of Film: Film in Competition, Films which are not competing, events that focus on several aspects of “film as Art” and, the Marché (the world´s largest film market).

In a typical Festival you can find you will find more than 60 films in competition. 20 films strive to obtain the coveted Palme d’Or – the Golden Palm for the Festival´s Best film, a further 20 compete for Prix Un Certain Regard, about 15 short and medium student films will be selected from film schools across the world and compete for inclusion in the Cinéfondation. Approximately 10 films compete for the Short Film Palme d’Or. There is even the Palm Dog! This independent award is presented for the best canine performance (live or animated), given this year to Banjo and Poppy for the film Sightseers.

Parallel to the screening of all the films in competition, there are also screenings of films that are not competing but have artistic value. Here we can find Special Screenings (chosen by a committee and displayed in locations appropriate to the identity / content of the respective film); Cannes Classics (tributes and documentaries focusing on cinema); Tous les Cinémas du Monde (each day another country displays its unique culture, identity and recent film work); Cinéma de la Plage (screenings of selected films for the mass public on Macé beach).

That is however still not all! Many events which do not involve the screening of films are also held. These include the Marché du Film, various Master Classes, Tributes and Exhibitions. I was pleased to see Marilyn Monroe honoured 50 years after her death as the icon of the 2012 Festival. Marilyn is still a major figure in world cinema and her story is an inspiration to me.

A very important part of the Festival de Cannes is the Marché du Film. This Film Market promotes the dual cultural and economic nature of cinema. Today, boasting in excess of 10,000 buyers and sellers and 4,000 films, it is the world’s leading market. It adds dynamism to the global film industry. The Marché facilitates networking and provides accredited professionals with the services and tools they need in order to exchange information; hold negotiations and uncover new opportunities.

Further events of importance are the Leçons de Cinéma (Cinema Masterclasses). Since the first Leçon de Cinéma (Cinema Masterclass) in 1991, by Francesco Rosi many other famous directors have taken their turn to talk about their artistic career and their views on film. Additionally the first Leçon de Musique (Music Masterclass) was given by Nicola Piovani in 2003 and the first Leçon d’Acteur (Acting Masterclass) was delivered by Max Von Sydow in 2004. Cannes is clearly not only a place to “see cinema” but also a place to “learn how to do it well”.

So what is it like to actually be on the red carpet? In a word – Exhilarating! I must admit that going to the Festival has been a long time dream of mine. The passion which the participants have for the “Seventh Art” brings people together in a very special, relaxed way. Where else could I have rubbed shoulders with P. Diddy, Brad Pitt, Heidi Klum, Janet Jackson and, of course, Chris Tucker, at a single event?. Where else could I show the latest creation by the portuguese stylist Micaela Oliveira, to such effect?

I also appreciated very much getting a chance to see “Killing Them Softly”, which was produced by, and which stars Brad Pitt. I really liked the character he played in this one!

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