A Visual History of the Cannes Film Festival Poster


The unveiling of the official Cannes Film Festival poster has become just as exciting as learning about the selections. The festival poster has always attracted the attention of cineastes everywhere, but the striking 2011 poster featuring an elegant 1970 photo of actress Fay Dunaway set against delicate text seemed to renew interest in the art form. In honor of the first Cannes Film Festival, which took place today back in 1946, we’ve compiled a visual history of the Cannes poster. From surreal illustrations, to memorable film stills, and the original artworks of beloved directors, these posters (and accompanying facts) remind us why the annual celebration on the French Riviera is still the most glamorous, essential, and exciting film festival around.

September 20, 1946: The first full length Cannes Film Festival opens.

1947: The festival would be canceled the following year due to budget problems.

1949: The festivities moved to the Palais des Festivals “without much fanfare, or a roof, thanks to a bit of unfinished carpentry and a particularly rough storm that year.”

1951: The festival moves from September to April. Later on, it moves to May. The Grand Prize of the Festival was awarded to three winners: Miss Julie by Alf Sjöberg, Miracle in Milan by Vittorio De Sica, and Spiegel van Holland by Bert Haanstra

1960: Federico Fellini won the Palme d’Or for La Dolce Vita.

1963: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds opened the festival.

1965: Following his death in 1963, Jean Cocteau was appointed Honorary President for life.

1968: Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut called for the festival to end midway due to political turmoil in France.

From Sight and Sound:

Gilles Jacob: Why did you stop the Cannes Festival?

François Truffaut: Because it was the logical thing to do. France was closing down, therefore Cannes had to close down. While I was driving to Cannes on May 17 to take part in a press conference about the Cinémathèque affair, I was listening to the radio and every half-hour came reports of more factories being occupied. I wasn’t sorry to see France paralyzed, the government was in disarray. Next day, when I asked for the Festival to be stopped, I wasn’t thinking particularly of a gesture of solidarity with the workers—I’d have been more likely to feel solidarity with the four students who were sentenced to jail after a hasty session in a Sunday court. I wasn’t really thinking of challenging or reforming the Festival, of doing away with evening dress or making it more cultural. No, I just felt that in its own interest the Festival should stop of its own accord rather than be halted a few days later by the force of events. I didn’t see it as a military coup, I simply wanted an unambiguous situation. In fact, this is how it happened.

During the night I was told of the creation of the Etats Généraux du Cinéma and their decision to stop the Festival, and I talked to a few people about it. We had no idea how difficult it is to stop this kind of big business event. We just adopted the tactics that had worked for the Cinémathèque: producers who had films in competition would withdraw them, jury members would resign. We made a mistake in not giving more information about the situation in France to people who for a week had been reading nothing but the Festival daily. (You feel differently according to whether or not you’ve been listening to the news.) This was especially true of foreign journalists and delegates, who naturally had qualms about joining in an anti-government movement…

Anyway, we had to get the Festival stopped and we did. It could maybe have been managed more elegantly, but in circumstances like this you’re inclined to check your manners with your hat—and someone probably throws away the cloakroom key. I know that a lot of people will hold our attitude at Cannes against us for a long time to come, but I also know that a few days later, when there were no more planes and no more trains, when the telephones weren’t working and we’d run out of petrol and cigarettes, the Festival would have looked utterly ridiculous if it had tried to carry on.

1974: The festival opened with Fellini’s Amarcord. The Palme d’Or went to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation.

1975: Polish painter Wojciech Siudmak created this trippy poster for the fest (and for 1976 and ’77). His illustrations were featured in the Polish edition of Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

1976: Martin Scorsese won the Palme d’Or for Taxi Driver.

1977: Film critic Pauline Kael was on the Cannes jury, under president (and Italian neorealist director) Roberto Rossellini.

1979: Francis Ford Coppola won the Palme d’Or for Apocalypse Now. Belgian artist and book illustrator Jean-Michel Folon created the festival poster.

1980: The same poster by Michel Landi was used for the 1981 festival.

1982: The poster is an adaptation of an original drawing by director Federico Fellini.

1983: The poster was adapted from an original drawing by director Akira Kurosawa.

1985: The poster is a tribute to pioneering photographer and “father of the motion picture,” Eadweard Muybridge.

1994: The poster is adapted from an original drawing by director Federico Fellini.

2000: Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark won the Palme d’Or. Italian comic artist Lorenzo Mattotti created the poster illustration.

2006: The poster featured a still from Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love. The director was the President of the Official Jury that year—the first Chinese director to be appointed President, too.

2008: Pierre Collier based his poster on a photograph by David Lynch of model Anouk Marguerite. At that time, she was a Crazy Horse cabaret dancer.

2012: Cannes celebrated its 65th anniversary with this photo of Marilyn Monroe.

2014: The 67th festival featured this poster with an image of Marcello Mastroianni from Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8 1/2.