22 Film Premieres at the Cannes Film Festival Through the Years
The films, the red carpet style, the setting (hello, it’s in the south of France!)—there is nothing quite like the Cannes Film Festival. Typically held each spring, the famous film fest has been a must for directors, producers, actors, and more since it was founded over 75 years ago.
Ahead of this year’s festivities, we look at some of the most memorable film premieres (as well as their iconic attendees) held at the Cannes Film Festival through the years. From red carpets that attracted the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Sharon Tate, and Sophia Loren to screenings that included a little something extra (aka acrobatic jet planes and choreographed dance numbers), here’s a handful of Cannes moments that stand out.
1946: Beauty and the Beast
Actress Josette Day is pictured here outside the premiere of the Jean Cocteau-directed Beauty and the Beast at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. The fantasy film stars Day as Belle and French actor Jean Marais as the Beast.
1953: Brigitte Bardot
A glamorous Brigitte Bardot was snapped at the festival in 1953 wearing an oversized white fur shawl, a floor-length chiffon gown, and a stunning diamond necklace.
1955: Sophia Loren
The iconic Italian actress, Sophia Loren, was photographed while sitting alongside Vittorio De Sica and Silvana Mangano during the festival's opening night. The trio was there for the premiere of their movie, L'Oro Di Napoli, also known as The Gold of Naples.
1957: Around the World in 80 Days
An incredibly glamorous Elizabeth Taylor turned heads as she attended the famous festival to promote her then-husband, Mike Todd’s, film, Around the World in 80 Days. The comedy starred Shirley MacLaine and Frank Sinatra and was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
1960: Audrey Hepburn
A delighted Audrey Hepburn walked the Cannes red carpet arm-in-arm with her husband, Mel Ferrer. The award-winning actress wore an ankle-length satin dress with sequin and bead detailing, long opera gloves, and low heels.
1962: Sidney Lumet & Gloria Vanderbilt
Film director Sidney Lumet and his then-wife Gloria Vanderbilt were all smiles at the 1962 festivities. Lumet was there to premiere his film, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which stars Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson.
1968: Rosemary's Baby
Hollywood superstars Mia Farrow, Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski, and Georges Cravenne are pictured here, filing into the premiere of Polanski’s spine-tingling film, Rosemary’s Baby. The thriller, set mainly in New York City, was such a hit that it received multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations.
1972: Princess Grace of Monaco & Alfred Hitchcock
Princess Grace of Monaco joined English filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock at the 1972 event. Hitchcock was there to screen his rated-R thriller, Frenzy, which was the festival’s closing film. The movie was so well-received that it earned a standing ovation from the audience.
1975: Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg
Perhaps the definition of chic, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg are pictured here enjoying themselves at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.
French actress Isabelle Adjani and Irish-born New Zealand actor Sam Neil are seen here posing for the camera at the premiere of filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession—the two star opposite each other in this early-80s psychological horror flick.
1983: Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
In 1983, David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto flew out to Cannes to premiere their wartime drama, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, also known as Furyo in Japanese. Bowie appeared in the popular film as Major Jack "Strafer" Celliers, and Sakamoto composed the film’s score.
1987: Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward
Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, smile together while attending a film premiere at the festival. The couple appeared together three decades earlier in The Long Hot Summer, which Newman won the Best Actor’s Award for at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival.
1989: Do The Right Thing
American screenwriter and actress Joie Lee, director Spike Lee, actress Ruby Dee, and actor Richard Edson all share a laugh while pictured here at the photocall for Lee’s Do The Right Thing.
1993: Nicolette Sheridan
Nicolette Sheridan, who starred as Edie Britt Williams in Desperate Housewives, is pictured here wearing a beautiful white gown, oversized gold earrings, and a slicked-back hairstyle while walking the red carpet during the film festival.
1997: Tim Burton & Lisa Marie Smith
Filmmaker Tim Burton, also a Cannes jury member, showed up to the 1997 fete with his former partner, actress Lisa Marie Smith, who had minor roles in several of the director’s movies. The two were engaged for over eight years but broke up after the release of Burton’s 2001 film, Planet of the Apes. After their separation, Smith decided to hold an auction of personal items Burton left at her home. Needless to say, Burton was not happy about this.
2001: Moulin Rouge!
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, who acted opposite each other in Baz Luhrmann’s larger-than-life 2001 musical, Moulin Rouge!, walked the red carpet together during the film’s Cannes premiere. Kidman wore a strapless corset dress with a ruffled hem, reminiscent of her character’s wardrobe, while McGregor chose a simple black suit.
2005: Aishwarya Rai
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai looked like a vision when she attended the Lemming premiere at Cannes. The movie, directed by French director Dominik Moll, stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Laurent Lucas.
2010: Salma Hayek
Actress Salma Hayek wore a beautiful burgundy dress to the premiere of Robin Hood. That year, Hayek also attended the Il Gattopardo premiere as well as the Palme d'Or Closing Ceremony.
2013: The Great Gatsby
The Cannes premiere of The Great Gatsby was unlike any other. For starters, a team of professional dancers took to the red carpet to perform an elaborate choreographed jazz-esque number. Even though the red carpet got rained on, it was still a marvelous time.
Rihanna wore an elaborate white gown with lace sleeve detailing to the premiere of Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja. The movie stars big names like Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano.
A couple of years later, Bong Joon-Ho returned to the famous festival to premiere Parasite, which was met with rave reviews. The film received the Palme d’Or that year and was later awarded several Academy Awards.
2022: Top Gun: Maverick
France’s Air Force acrobatic unit put on a colorful show by flying over the red carpet during Top Gun: Maverick’s Cannes premiere. The movie’s producer and leading actor, Tom Cruise, also received an honorary Palme d’Or at the festival that year.
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