A Guide to the Cannes Film Festival for Regular People

A Guide to the Cannes Film Festival for Regular People

We're here to help you navigate the world's most glamorous festival

The glitz and glamor of Cannes is around the corner – the 70th edition of the world’s premier film festival runs from May 17th to 28th, 2017. An invite-only gathering place for industry professionals, celebrities, and millionaires, Cannes can be tough to penetrate if you’re not one of the above. The list of things you CAN’T access here is so long it can be demoralizing. But what about the things you do have access to? Let’s look on the bright side.

Movies Galore

Crowd at Cannes Film FestivalYou came all the way to Cannes, so we’re guessing you’re going to want to see some films! Unless you’re in the movie industry, it will be close to impossible (more on that later) to attend any of the films in competition. You can probably forget about seeing anything that’s part of the official selection, including the In-Competition, Out-of-Competition, Special Screenings, Short Films, Cannes Classics, and Cinefondation categories. Still, there are a number of ways you can participate in screenings. Cannes Cinephiles hands out free tickets to Critics’ Week and Un Certain Regard films on a first-come-first-served basis. For the best chance at tickets make sure you line up early. If you strike out on all fronts, the Festival puts on nightly, open-air screenings on the beach at Plage Macé, usually featuring Cannes classics. Cinema under the stars – what could be better?

Celebrity Spotting

Celebrities at Cannes Film FestivalLet’s start with the high-profile names that we know will be at Cannes this year. Jessica Chastain and Will Smith are sitting on the jury, meaning they are responsible for choosing which films win an award, and will be in attendance all week. Monica Bellucci will host the opening and closing ceremonies as Mistress of Ceremonies, and Uma Thurman is serving as president of the jury of the Un Certain Regard category. In addition, there is always a bevvy of stars from films in contention, and even those not affiliated with the festival often make the trip down to be a part of the festivities. These stars can often be spotted hanging around glitzy hotels like the Martinez and Cap-Eden-Roc, dining at restaurants like Baoli, Mouton Cadet, and The VIP Room, and shopping on the famed Rue d’Antibes. Finally, there are those you may not even get the chance to see because they will be off galavanting on their multi-million dollar superyachts. These are the richest of richest, many with net worth figures north of a billion dollars. Among the North American names expected to surface this year are Paul Allen of Microsoft on his yacht, named Tatoosh; Carnival Corporation founder Mickey Arison aboard Myliv IV; Google’s Eric Schmidt on Oasis; music legend Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs atop Maraya; and comedian Jerry Seinfeld along with his yacht, Moka.

Further Afield

View of Cannes from Alang Alang villaFrom nearby Nice, Antibes, and Juan-les-Pins, to further away Monaco, Marseille, and St. Tropez, there’s so much nearby that it’s hard not to want to wander around the beautiful French Riviera while you’re in town. It’s an easy decision to extend your trip before or after the festival to include an excursion to one or several of these nearby towns. During your stay at Cannes, you can just as easily enjoy the bustling city and its stunning sea views from up close. Hotels are in high-demand at this time of year and therefore sell out rather quickly. But before giving up, consider the home-sharing or villa option. There are many locals willing to open up their homes to you via Airbnb so you can experience Cannes like a local, and the same can be said about vacationing homeowners looking to rent out their entire property to a family or group of friends through sites like Luxury Retreats. The latter option may suit you if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience with a private pool and outdoor dining, while still close to all the action.

Fine Dining

Celebrity fine dining in CannesIf your budget doesn’t quite accommodate some of the aforementioned Michelin-star celebrity hangouts, there are still plenty of affordable dining options in and around Cannes. L’Affable, a stylish brasserie on a side street off Rue d’Antibes, serves up French dishes suitable for locals. You have to try their soufflé au Grand-Marnier! A few blocks away, Au Pot de Vin is a garage-turned-wine-bar with a vintage 1930s decor. Provencal cheese and jambon… Enough said. Then there’s La Casa Di Nonna – Grandma’s house. Predictably, you can expect home-style Italian dishes with emphasis on pasta. But, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free also have plenty of options here. If you do want to experience Cannes like a celebrity, there are certainly plenty of spots where you’re likely to rub shoulders with celebrities, industry execs, and billionaires. If that’s your move, you’d be hard-pressed to miss Tetou, the seafood restaurant overlooking Golfe Juan Beach that’s enough for Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, and Clint Eastwood.

Getting Accreditation (It isn’t as Hard as you Think)

Crowd at Cannes Film FestivalBut wait – didn’t you just tell me I would have no access to any of the films without industry credentials? Well, yes, we did. But there’s more to it than that. The top films at Cannes Film Festival are restricted to industry professionals, and for those that serve the film industry, there are different levels of accreditation that will earn them either free or paid access to the festival’s events. But here’s the thing: You may be closer to being an ‘industry professional’ than you think! Having an iMDb page is often enough to prove your worth. Upload that one-day extra job you did three years ago, snap a pro headshot, and you could be accredited in no time! Do you have a friend that’s making a short film? You could sponsor that film, and all of a sudden, you’re part of the industry. With a little creativity, you could find yourself enjoying Cannes like you never thought possible.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Hertzog / AFP; STAFF / AFP; iStock; Luxury Retreats