Ten Historic Moments at Cannes Film Festival

It's never a dull moment at the French film festival.
Reading time 3 minutes

For the past 72 years, the Cannes Film Festival has become known for its elegant movie premieres and fabulous red carpet, lasting an average of 10 to 12 days on the Côte d'Azur. Throughout its decade-spanning run, there have been several historic moments that have impacted similar-but-different creative realms. As the list of guests expanded and became more diverse, so too did the dress code, transforming the festival's conservative past into an arena where freedom of speech and expression can reign free. Ahead, several bright moments from Cannes dating all the way back to 1953. 


 Lupita Nyong'o

Brigitte Bardot's Debut 1953

Brigitte Bardot was only 18 years old when she first appeared on the Cannes red carpet. By that time. she had five films in her portfolio, including Act of Love, for which she had attended the festival. But her roles weren't exactly her claim to fame and popularity, but rather a series of photos taken on the beaches of the Côte d'Azur that elevated her status to that of an icon. 


Like any international cultural happening, Cannes gradually began to perform another function—namely a more political one—marked by the visit of Princess Margaret (sister of Queen Elizabeth II) in 1966. She was the first Windsor to attend Cannes, where she took in the premiere of the comedic spy-fi film Modesty Blaise which was filmed in the UK.

Madonna, 1991

Photographer and director of the Getty Images archive Bob Ahern—who has worked at the festival for more than 20 years—recalls that Cannes has always been fairly conservative, especially when it comes to its strict code of dress. However, this began to change gradually come the early 90's. "Nobody could change Madonna," he says of the singer's appearance on the red carpet in 1991. The pop provocateur showed up in a white silk Jean-Paul Gaultier ensemble, which included the French designer's ingenious conical-shaped bra. 

Sharon Stone's appearance on the red carpet in 1995 for the screening of Isaac Mizrahi's Unzipped marked a turning point in Cannes fashion. Wearing a sequined romper under a billowing, unbuttoned skirt. 

Fashion Photoshoot on the Red Carpet, 1996

Models and actresses have walked the red carpet of Cannes for the last 30 years, but in 1996, there was a slight change in tradition, when the event became a photo shoot. Czech model Eva Herzigová struck a variety of poses as she was lifted onto a gentleman's shoulders (and atop a ladder), perched above the crowd of photographers, notably among them, the legendary Helmut Newton, who orchestrated the whole thing.

Angelina Jolie Announces Pregnancy, 2008

At Cannes 2008, Angelina Jolie announced her pregnancy while on the red carpet with then-husband Brad Pitt. Two months later, she gave birth to twins Knox and Vivienne in the neighboring city of Nice.

Activism on the red carpet, 2014

In 2014, Salma Hayek, along with actors from the film The Expendables, walked out onto the red carpet with signs reading "Bring back our girls," using their moment to bring awareness to the abduction of 300 schoolgirls from the Nigerian city of Chibok. 

The Selfie Ban, 2018

related posts

Recommended posts for you