It is one of the "Big Five" film festivals, alongside the Venice Film Festival in Italy, the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and the Sundance Film Festival in the United States. The Big Five are internationally acclaimed for giving creators the artistic freedom to express themselves through film.
For more than 70 years, everyone who’s anyone in the film world — and lots of people who want to be — have migrated to the French Riviera in May for the biggest event of the year: the Cannes Film Festival, which combines glitzy, star-studded red-carpet premieres with long, exhausting days of screenings, meetings, networking, and parties. Even though there are many obvious differences between a 12-day film festival and an awards show, Cannes is as big a deal as the Oscars.
Only a few dozen films are selected to show during the festival, often from prestigious directors whose work has previously played at Cannes. About 20 films premiere “in competition,” which means they’re competing for the top Cannes prize: the Palme d’Or (“golden palm”), won in the past by films as varied as Apocalypse Now; The Umbrellas of Cherbourg; Sex, Lies and Videotape; Pulp Fiction; and The Tree of Life. In 2018, the Palme winner was Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters.
Cannes is widely considered the most prestigious film festival in the world, mainly because of its exclusivity and long history of premiering some of the greatest films of all time. The festival has launched the careers of many prominent filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh.
Cannes carefully cultivates its image by programming a limited number of films; by giving awards selected by juries that are stacked with well-known filmmakers, actors, and composers from around the world; and by maintaining the largest film market in the world.
Winning a prize at Cannes doesn’t guarantee commercial or critical success. And yet it’s undoubtedly a big deal — it can launch a career — and it guarantees the director’s place in film history. It can also propel a film toward success during awards season, months later; The Artist, for instance, premiered at Cannes in 2011, where star Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award. It went on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture — the first French film ever to win that prize.
But Cannes’s importance extends beyond awards recognition; it also affects which films make it in front of audiences at all. One of the most important events for most Cannes attendees is the Marché du Film, which is the world’s busiest movie market. “Specialty distributors” — that is, movie distributors that specialize in finding ways to get audiences for foreign, arthouse, and other niche films — often make their most important deals of the year at the festival. Filmmakers who hope to find funding and distribution for their films spend their days at Cannes networking with financiers, distributors, and publicists from all over the world.
According to vox.com