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3 Strange Things About Film Festivals you Probably Didn’t Know

Cinema is art, cinema is entertainment. Sometimes, it’s both at the same time, other times it’s one of the two – and it’s up to the public (and the critics) to decide which. We have documentaries and comedies, art films and popcorn flicks, box office hits and busts, and then we have the festivals that gather filmmakers and their works from all over the world and give out prizes that honor their artistic views, their skill, and their unique approach to existing issues and situations in our world. The prizes that are given out by most film festivals hardly ever reflect the tastes of the masses, though – and they are not meant to. Cinema is art, and these festivals are created to focus on the artistic side of filmmaking. And this is just one of the many things you didn’t know about the Cannes Film Festival and other similar (albeit often less famous) film festivals.

Cannes’ “Best Director” has been awarded to a woman only twice in 70 years

The inaugural Cannes Film Festival took place in 1946. Since then, it has seen 70 editions, and just as many top prizes awarded – but not to women, it seems. The first female director to ever win a “Best Director” at Cannes was Yuliya Solntseva, at the 1961 edition of the festival. Her movie, called “The Story of the Flaming Years”, tells the story of the Germans invading Russia and the heroic locals rising up against the invaders and ultimately expelling them from the country. There were no other female directors rewarded with the same distinction until this year when Sofia Coppola, the Academy Award-winning daughter of famed director Francis Ford Coppola, took home the “Best Director” for her movie “The Beguiled”.

With this year’s result, Cannes is officially ahead of the Oscars, which has only one awarded female director on the record – Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”. The Berlinale is not far behind, though, with only four female directors taking home Golden Bears over its almost 70 years of history.

The TIFF was originally an “aggregator”

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the largest film festivals today, attracting hundreds of thousands of attendees each year, with exclusive premieres and screenings. Many of the movies first shown here went on to win Academy Awards – American Beauty, Black Swan, Slumdog Millionaire, and The King’s Speech are just a few examples. The TIFF has grown into this major international event from very humble roots: organizers Bill Marshall, Henk Van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl originally started it as an event showing the best-regarded films of festivals taking place in other parts of the world, calling it the “Festival of Festivals”.

Basically, a movie “aggregator”.

“A-List” history

The four most prestigious international film festivals all take place in Europe. These are, in no particular order, the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice International Film Festival, the Festival del Film Locarno, and the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest of them all that’s still running, with its inaugural edition taking place in 1932. Filmmaking as a form of art rather than entertainment has been celebrated by these for more than eight decades now and will continue to do so for long years to come.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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