France’s Top 5 Film Festivals

Whether historic or just fantastic, France offers some truly wonderful festivals throughout the calendar year. Cinema is one area where France excels, with Cannes being possibly the biggest festival in the world of cinema. But then it isn’t all about Cannes. Let’s look at the top five film festivals in France, beginning with the aforementioned Cannes.

Cannes Film Festival

A gentleman by the name of Jean Zay who was the Minister of National Education and Fine Arts, founded the festival in 1946. The festival is now one of the biggest, if not the premier, film festival in the world. The 12-day event, for both filmmakers and cinema lovers alike, showcases films from diverse backgrounds.

The festival, along with its 24 steps and red carpet, has reached iconic status, in fact. Filmmakers, actors and actresses from all over the world, as well as journalists in the thousands, make their way to Cannes each May. The film regarded as the best is awarded the Palme d’Or but all films are celebrated, from animations to auteur cinema. You should attend this event at least once in your lifetime.

The Annecy Animated Film Festival to celebrate Image

The festival, which was established in 1960, takes place every June. Before 1997, it was held every other year. Now a number of animated films are shown each year. The festival celebrates a variety of animation techniques, such as stop motion, cartoons, paper cut-outs, and plasticine. Indie and global directors present both short and long films. The festival has become hugely successful and has improved the reputation of the city.

The American Cinema Festival of Deauville

This festival devotes 10 days to film. Established by André Halimi and Lionel Chouchan in 1975, it specifically pays tribute to American cinema. As such, the festival has attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, and Robert DeNiro. Initially, there was a stronger emphasis on the larger Hollywood productions but there is now more recognition of independent American Cinema. Each year, the festival hours a guest star.

The Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

This next festival takes place in Auvergne. It’s a unique one in the sense that only films of under 30 minutes are allowed entry into the competition. However it’s also the world’s largest short film festival and, therefore, it’s clear why, attendance-wise, it’s the second biggest film festival in France. In 1981, the ‘Sauve qui peut le court métrage’ (short film: SOS) association was established, with the festival launching the following year. 

The Lyon Festival of Light

A more recently established festival, having only been launched in 2009, it has already received much recognition, both domestically and globally. It lasts for seven days every October. The Halle Tony Garnier hosts the opening ceremony, beginning a week’s worth of films and themed evenings, such as the Cinema Night and the Children’s Session. It also provides a chance for retrospectives on cinema history and old restored films are shown at venues partnering with the festival.