How To Get In To Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is intended for people working in the film industry, and public access to the festival is extremely limited. If you are not “accredited,” then your options are not vast, but they do exist. Members of the film industry, people who work for companies serving the film industry, members of the press, and certain others are able to become accredited either for free or for a fee. If you are not accredited, there are still some ways to enjoy the festival.

A few of the festival activities are open to the public. For instance, there are nightly screenings on the beach: just line up early and wait your way in. Some chairs and blankets are provided for particularly early arrivers, but you can also bring your own towel.

These films are not new but they are accessible to all. If you prefer to view newer films, you can obtain tickets to the Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight sections of the festival. These two parallel sets of screenings showcase a number of new features and shorts. Critics’ Week is a competitive series of screenings with free tickets available; Directors’ Fortnight is non-competitive, and tickets are available for purchase for a small price. Both have an international scope and are open to the public.

Locals have access to the Cannes Cinephiles screenings. These are free and held just outside of the festival, and they include all of the films. If you are not a local resident, wait a couple of days: insiders say badges are seldom checked at that point. Red carpet screenings during the festival proper are more difficult to access, but tickets are still not impossible to score. These screenings are black tie affairs, so dress appropriately, park yourself at the red carpet, and prepare to talk your way into the screenings with a badge-holder.

Those are your options if you are not accredited, but accreditation is not necessarily as difficult to obtain as one might think. Anyone with any film credits to his or her name is eligible for free Festival Accreditation. Having one’s name in the Internet Movie Database or a similar resource is enough to demonstrate this eligibility.

If you’re currently working on a project that is not yet in IMDb, provide evidence of the work (e.g., with photocopies of contracts) when requesting accreditation. In contrast with Festival Accreditation, Market Accreditation is not cheap—about €300—and it is intended for people who work in fields that service the film industry, but it gives you access to all areas of the festival as well as market-specific screenings and lists your company in the festival Market Guide.

If you have a short film, submit it to the Short Film Corner. Accreditation via the Short Film Corner is more reasonable at €50 to €100 per badge, and your film gets exposed to other attendees. Better yet, if you are not a filmmaker but know one who is unable to attend, you can sponsor his or her film in this division and attend on the filmmaker’s behalf, provided you are credited in some way in the program; the filmmaker may not object to giving you an executive producer credit for your festival legwork.

There are standards for the Short Film Corner, but admission is not competitive. If the film appears to have been made for legitimate reasons (that is, not whipped up in an hour to score Cannes accreditation), it will generally be accepted.

There are many ways to attend Cannes. If you prepare and research ahead of time, you can get a lot out of attending even if you are brand new to the industry or not connected at all.

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