I have just returned from the Cannes Film Festival – exhausted, with a suitcase full of paperwork and a strong desire to sit alone in a darkened room for the next week to recover. Cannes market (marché) and festival is *the* annual gathering of film professionals from all over the world and it’s a heady mix of sun, film screenings, ice creams, parties, awards, networking, ice creams, booze and fun. And ice creams.
One of the drawbacks of writing about film data and statistics is that while I was there I was asked innumerable times “How many people do you think attend the Cannes film festival?” I got so sick of the question that I vowed once I returned to Blighty I would investigate and publish the results here. In summary…
- 29,626 people were officially accredited in the festival and market in 2013.
- Two thirds of the people who attend the Cannes film festival come from Europe.
- 4,589 members of the press attended in 2013
- 44% of whom were French
- A total of 80 films were celebrated by the festival in 2013: 22 made up the Official Selection.
- In 2013, 1,420 films were screened in the market: twice the number in 2003.
- 2,178 short films were in Short Film Corner
The people who attend the Cannes film festival
To be granted access to the events and buildings in Cannes during the festival you need to apply for official accreditation. There are varying sorts, including…
- Festival badge. It’s free but you need to prove that you’re active in the industry.
- Market badge. This is around 300 Euros and gives you access to all the market screenings.
- Short Film Corner badge. If you have a film selected in the short film market then the director and producer are each given accreditation.
- Press badge. There are varying levels of press accreditation and the top level is probably the best badge around. With it, almost all areas of the festival will treat you like a VIP.
Last year, 29,626 people were officially accredited and able to attend the Cannes film festival and market. As well as the official attendees there were many unaccredited people flooding into Cannes including waiters, vendors and hookers (who apparently can earn up to $40,000 a night). Accreditation has increased to 157% compared to a decade ago. Two thirds of all peopl who attend the Cannes film festival are from Europe, although in recent years the biggest increases have been from South America and Africa.
The press who attend the Cannes film festival
The rules for receiving press accreditation are pretty tight and journalists who have previously attended the festival are required to submit their articles if they wish to be accredited again the next year. In 1966 the Cannes festival and market was covered by just 700 journalists, but by 2013 this had increased over six-fold to 4,589. The chart above shows that the Cannes officials hugely favour French journalists and the same can be said for print publications. The first web publication to be accredited was in 1995 but it wasn’t until 2007 that the number of web journalists crossed 100. We can also break the figures down into the media outlets who have staff in Cannes.
The Films In Competition
There are a number of events happening concurrently during the twelve days of Cannes. Most of the press coverage goes to the Official Competition where 22 new films fight it out to win the Palme D’or. Other films are selected for events such as Directors’ Fortnight, Un Certain Regard, Critic’s Week and films screened Out of Competition.
The Films For Sale
The Festival du Cannes is just one half of the event. The other half is the Marché du Film, which is literally a market where Sales agents sell rights to distribute films to Distributors from all over the world. The film industry is a truly global business and Cannes has always represented the premier place for professionals to get together to buy and sell their wares. In order to show possible buyers what they’re selling, Sales Agents pay for market screenings of their films. These do not represent all the films for sale as many will be sold via private screenings, shown on market stands or (all too often) sold sight unseen.
The vast majority of industry time, energy and money at Cannes is spent on feature films. Features are what the industry is buying and selling, it’s what the press want to cover and it’s what all of the famous filmmakers and celebrities are promoting. However, short films do have their own competitions, events and even a market. In recent years, they have added a market for short films, called Short Film Corner. Sadly, I don’t have historical data for Short Film Corner but I do have data for 2013…
- 3,251 accredited participants
- 2,178 registered short films
- Over 21,000 views in the video library
- 98 represented countries
I first went to Cannes in 2006 as a keen filmmaker who was excited about my short film being chosen as one of the Top Ten at Short Film Corner (an accolade that has since become obsolete…) Since then, I have been back six times, exploring the festival from most angles. I have sold films from a stand in the marché, been selected as part of the Producers’ Network, had Sales Agents sell one of my features, made an online TV show from the festival and eaten countless ice creams. If you’re even vaguely connected to film and have never been then I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a wild, crazy, unexpected place where films are watched (by directors), sold (by sales agents) and money is made (by hookers).