Cannes Film Festival: Complete 2023 Insider Guide
This is a complete guide to the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, written by an insider living in Monaco. Below is all the information you’ll need, including the locations, ticketing, insider information, and how to spot celebrities.
Held every May for 10 days, the Cannes Film Festival is the largest and most important gathering of film industry activity on the planet. Over 200,000 people (40,000 with official accreditation) from filmmakers, film fans, studio executives, to star-gazers go down on the Croisette to take part in the Cannes Film Festival.
If you want all the up-to-date info about the Cannes Film festival at your fingertips, there’s an app for that – and it’s free! Keep the app on your phone or tablet even once you get home to check out the ‘best of’ bits post-festival.
History of the Cannes Film Festival
Up until the creation of the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice film festival was the biggest movie event in Europe. However, during the 1938 festival, intimidation from Hitler and Mussolini led judges to vote in favor of the Nazi Propaganda documentary that was admitted and shown.
This led French director Philippe Erlanger to petition to create a free film festival, devoid of political pressure. After a number of setbacks and aborted initiatives, the Cannes Film Festival celebrated its first launch in September 1946.
Due to its international success, it actually led to Cannes becoming the major tourist destination it is today.
Logistics: Your Stay in Cannes
Lights, camera, action! If you and your friends are heading to the Cannes Film Festival, you’re in for one of the most star-studded events on the European cultural calendar. While you could just show up, frock up, and hope for the best (but we wouldn’t recommend that!), a few simple tips will help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Choose Your Base
As with any high-profile event, you should definitely book your accommodation early. If you’ve got money to spare, check out our Completely Baller, Ultra-Luxury Itinerary, and turn your festival trip into a longer tour of the glamorous French Riviera.
While renting an apartment or villa is more economical and flexible than a hotel for a group, be aware that in the central district, close to the Palais des Festivals and Promenade de la Croisette , many owners will only rent their property for the entire duration of the festival.
The city is divided into the inner ring and outside the ring. Further away from the center, in the outlying suburbs like Le Cannet , Juan-les-Pins and La Bocca , you’re more likely to find apartments that can be booked on a nightly basis, but traffic can be a bit crazy and you’ll need to wait for an Uber or taxi (which will be in short supply).
If you’ve left it too late and aren’t able to secure accommodation in Cannes, staying in Nice is the next best thing. It’s about 45 minutes away by road and there are local shuttle buses every 30 minutes during festival time. Check out our Cannes transportation guide and Nice’s transportation options.
Uber is available in Cannes, and while there are plenty of taxis, they’re hard to catch (although many hotels have preferential call-outs) and are very expensive – although split between a group it can be reasonable. If you’re planning on catching a taxi to any event, make sure you book ahead. Or, better yet, if you can afford it, hire a driver for your entire stay.
Shuttle buses run about every 30 minutes and cost €1.50. The journey from suburban areas takes about 15-20 minutes. Peak time is around 7pm. An average taxi fare for the same distance can cost you up to €30.
During festival time there are frequent buses around and beyond the city ring, but they can get very full so if you’re heading to a specific event, plan ahead. If you’re staying in the inner ring, the longest it will take to walk to Les Palais and La Croisette is about 25 minutes, and much less if you’re lucky – but the crowds might slow things down a bit.
Check out our complete guide to Cannes’ transportation options for more information.
See a Movie
Cannes is officially an industry event, so – unless you’ve received an invitation in the mail (and if you don’t have a name like Tarantino or Clooney it’s probably not coming) – for the hot-ticket screenings at the Palais you’ll have to settle for the smaller venues or open-air screenings at the Cinéma de la Plage.
The TV Festival de Cannes (shown throughout the Palais complex and in most hotels) runs 24-hours a day throughout the festival, broadcasting highlights in French and English.
Free Seats for Screenings
If places are available, festival badge-holders without tickets can attend all the screenings at the Grand Théâtre Lumière. A total of 6,000 people enjoy this benefit every year.
While it’s not easy, you can sometimes also pick up FREE leftover seats for screenings of festival films at these venues:
- Cannes Cinema booth (in the Pantiero zone)
- Raimu Cinema, Ranguin
- Licorne Cinema, La Boca
- Studio 13 Cinema, MJC Picaud
Cannes in a Van
For something a little different you should also keep your eyes peeled for the British ‘Cannes in a Van’, which screens trailers and short films from their van parked along the promenade.
Watch Films on the Beach
The Cinéma de la Plage holds public screenings of ‘Out of Competition’ and ‘Cannes Classic films’ under the stars on a giant screen on Macé beach every evening. Tickets are available at the Cannes Tourist Office on the day (no bookings), or just show up early with your chairs, blankets, and bubbles and hope for the best! Here’s the movie schedule.
We all know the Cannes Film Festival isn’t really about the films, it’s about the celebrities! If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the glitterati, or at least watching them rub shoulders with each other, for a glimpse of off-duty A-listers you can lurk casually around these well-known celebrity haunts:
- Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: Di Caprio’s (and many other A-lister’s!) home-away-from-home in Cannes.
- Hotel Martinez: Favored by the likes of Bruce Willis and Julianne Moore.
- La Palme d’Or: A very swanky 2-Michelin-star restaurant and the place to see and be seen.
- Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic: Just steps away from the Palais, which is obviously important to their celebrity guests.
- Cannes Movie Star Lounge in the Intercontinental Carlton: Your chances of getting in here will be helped if you make friends with someone in the media!
- Le Baoli: A nightclub-style bar and restaurant that B-list celebrities sometimes dine at.
The Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet
The red carpet at screening events at the Palais des Festivals is the place to spot celebrities in their natural habitat. Dress up in your best Hollywood-ready glad rags and join the circus of media and spectators lining the red carpet as the celebs strut their stuff.
The red carpet is the undying symbol of the Festival. It is for the most part what gets the attention of the media. Both the world’s renowned film artists and budding talents can experience equal welcome as they participate in the event. The red carpet also symbolizes the nor the artists deserve for their creativity. After all, the Festival’s fame depends on them.
One hotel always guaranteed to be hosting Hollywood royalty during the Cannes Film Festival is the chic and glamorous Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. From Marlene Dietrich to Madonna and Angelina Jolie – who take a yacht from Cannes to the hotel and like to stay in the villas for €10,000 per night – this hotel has been desired by the stars since it first opened its doors.
A peek at the hotel’s guestbook reveals that some of the most famous and celebrated stars have sipped on the hotel’s emblematic cocktail Le Bellini (fresh peaches and champagne) and dined al fresco in the paradise that is the Eden-Roc restaurant, which overlooks the Lérins Islands.
The ‘Official Selection’
The main part of the Cannes Film Festival is the Official Selection that focuses on the diversity of cinematic arts. It includes the “In Competition” where participating films come for the prestigious Palme d’Or, the highest prize of the Festival. Also comes the “Un Certain Regard” on which works with distinct originality and with strong aesthetic and global impact receive the honor. There are other segments of the selection that maintain balance and diversity when it comes to the appreciation of the worldwide cinema. Other parts are:
- Out of Competition: where films do not compete for Palme d’Or.
- Special Screenings: where the films are matched to their particular identity.
- Cinefondation: features films submitted by film schools.
- Short Films: 10 short films aiming for the Short Film Palme d’Or.
- Cannes Classics: celebrated the film industry heritage.
- Cinema de Plage: nightly public screenings of Out of Competition and Cannes Classic films with the venue in Macé beach.
Other Sections of the Cannes Film Festival
- International Critics Week: focuses on discovering new talents around the globe.
- Tous les Cinénas du Monde: showcases the diversity of cinema across the world, where one country will present featured works including short films in celebration of the unique culture and indentity.
- Marché du Film: the world’s largest film market.
- Tributes: honoring internationally renowned artists with Festival Trophee and a screening of their known work.
- The “Jeune Cinéma” section: is dedicated to young creators. Through three main actions, it supports the film projects of young directors; from scriptwriting to recognizing their work on the international scale, to searching for financial support.
- Exhibitions: highlighting the event by a cinematographic theme illustrating the event’s program.
- Masterclasses: by A-list filmmakers, Director’s Fortnight, ACID (Association for Independent Cinema and its Distribution), and Producers Network for an opportunity to create international co-productions.
Attending: Getting Accreditation
There are several ways to get accreditation. Being part of the film industry as a buyer or seller gives the highest level of accreditation with access to all festival sponsored events. This is excluding The Cannes Red Carpet Black Tie Formal Gala screening of films each evening. The gala screenings are by invitation only but you must have accreditation to attend. Here are the types of accreditation:
- The “Three days in Cannes” Pass is reserved for cinema lovers aged between 18 and 28. Accreditation for “Three Days in Cannes” gives you access to the Official Selection (Competition, Out of Competition, Special Screenings, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Classics, Cinéma de la Plage) and to the Palais des Festivals, as well as a dedicated programme at Les Arcades cinemas for the final three days.
- Film Professional and Marche du Film Accreditation is for industry professionals, buyers, sellers, producers and film industry institutional representatives. Find out more about the Marché Badge on the Marché du Film website.
- Press Accreditation is for journalists, photographers and media technicians. Accreditation guidelines are available here: Press Area.
- Cannes Cinephiles Accreditation is for students, film clubs and educational groups. This is the lowest level access but you will get tickets to screenings and it can be used if you are invited to attend The Cannes Red Carpet Black Tie Formal Gala screening. The Festival de Cannes is also open to film enthusiasts and educational groups. “Cannes Cinéphiles” accreditations give access to the films of the Official Selection, Semaine de la Critique and Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in some Cannes’ theatres. These accreditations do not give access to the professional areas, Palais des Festivals included, which are reserved for professionals of the film industry only.
Be sure to check the Cannes Film Festival’s official site for the requirements, instructions, and deadlines to apply for accreditation. You can also go to the Accreditations Office in person at the Gare Maritime , or reach them by phone:
- Festival Manager: Fabrice Allard can be reached at +33492998057
- Marché du Film Manager: José Cepeda can be reached at +33492998012
- Press Office: +33492998109
- Audiovisual and photographic press unit & Web Media Audio: +33492998352
- Cannes – It’s spoken without the ‘S’ as any Francophile would tell you. It’s also pronounced like ‘can of Coke’ and not ‘Wrath of Khan.’
- Boulevard de la Croisette – The Croisette (pronounced like ‘qwa-zette’) is the main beachfront promenade in Cannes. This is where you will find a small funfair, the Cinéma de la Plage, the Cannes Film Festival Gift Shop and the first stretch of International Village Pavillions.Most of the industry parties are held here or nearby.
- Invitations – Otherwise known as ‘tickets.’ All tickets (unless under very particular circumstances) are freeand this is probably why the term ‘invitation’ is most often used.
- Gala – If anyone says ‘Gala’, they are referring to the evening, glitzy screening of a film in the Grand Lumière Théâtre.
- Cannes Cinephile Space/Tent/Office – All terms are used to describe one place. If you have Cinephile accreditation, head here to pick up your badge. It is open from 9am to 5:30pm during the festival and is where you can pick up Cinephile brochures and invitations.
- Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – Or just the Palais des Festivals. This is the main building where films are screened and events are held. Palais is pronounced ‘pa-lay.’
- The Palme d’Or – The main and most coveted award at the Cannes Film Festival. This award is the equivalent to ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars. Films screened in competition at Cannes are up for this award and several others with more obvious names such as Best Screenplay, Best Director, etc.
- Marché du Film/Film Market – The business part of Cannes. The Film Market is behind the Palais des Festivals and is where distributors, producers and financiers head to get funding for their project or get a film picked up for distribution. Unsurprisingly, Cinephiles would not be allowed to enter this area.
- International Village Pavilions – The pavilions are essentially tents (like the Cannes Cinephile tent) that line up along the Croisette and the beach front. 60+ countries have their own pavilion to represent their film industry and hold events. I can only assume this village exists so country representatives can persuade as many people as possible to shoot a movie in their country? I have no idea!
- The Dailies – Free magazines dotted around stands in the Palais des Festivals. They are printed every day and include all of yesterday’s gossip.
Video of Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival 2023 Event Details
Event Type: Film Festival
Date: May 16 to 27, 2023
Website: Official Film Festival Website
Location: Palais des Festivals, Cannes in the port
Transportation: See our guide to Cannes transportation options. Air France will operate three special flights to connect Hollywood to the Cannes Film Festival in May. As the official partner of the event, the French flag carrier will offer a direct flight service between Los Angeles and Nice using the airline’s flagship aircraft, the Airbus A350. In addition to offering special flights, Air France will showcase a wide selection of French films and award-winning movies from previous editions of the festival as part of its in-flight entertainment.
Other Film Festivals: For more events, check out our complete Monaco & the French Riviera events calendar.