I photographed the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and 2014 from the public’s point of view. I milled about, queued, craned and waited with the public. Mostly I turned my lens on that same public whose behaviour I found so much more interesting than the choreographed public appearances of the film industry professionals.
The Cannes Film Festival screens a wide range of films and it prides itself on showcasing emerging talents and a variety of foreign language films. The festival supports both traditional artistry and boundary-pushing innovation.
It’s also a slick, well-oiled, publicity-seeking, money-making machine. The annual budget is approximately 20 million euros and the event brings in 25 million euros in just 12 days.
Every year the population of Cannes almost triples from 70,000 to 200,000 during its annual film festival. Actors, directors, producers, agents, fans, playboys, call girls and hopefuls flock to Cannes for the festival. The event was attended by over 4000 journalists in 2013. Industry professionals consider Cannes to be the number one festival in the world to make deals and useful contacts.
The festival also attracts more hangers-on than any other. Thousands of wealthy socialites and pleasure seekers turn up for what they see as the biggest party of the year. There is a sex, alcohol and drug fuelled subculture that surrounds the glitzy film festival. An estimated 200 call girls, making on average 3000 euros a night, stroll in and out of the big hotels every night. There are numerous “yacht girls” installed on yachts in the old port. The line between professional prostitutes and C-list actresses or models who accept payment for sex with rich men is rumoured to be very blurred.
In 2014 around 200 municipal police tracked the streets of Cannes in response to the massive jewellery thefts that occurred in 2013. There were also around 400 private security guards and private armed police guards.
Finally there are the hoards of enthusiastic fans. They are the movie-goers who keep the film industry afloat and alive. They rarely get tickets to see the films and they’re unlikely to be invited to the parties. They seem satisfied by the occasional glimpse of their favourite actor or actress and they seem content soaking up the glittering, dazzling atmosphere.