A film by Jean-Pierre Devillers (Intal Emmy Award Winner 2015 - Best Documentary Film)
A coproduction CBB Films and ARTE.
For the 70th Cannes Festival anniversary, endorsed by Festival de Cannes
The film mostly composed of archive footage, some from rarely seen private collections, will retrace the saga of the Festival’s founders: Philippe Erlanger (First General Delegate of the Festival), Jean Zay (French Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts) and Albert Sarraut (French Homeland Security Minister).
The first Cannes Film Festival, presided by Louis Lumière, was supposed to take place on September 1st, 1939 as an answer to The Venice Film Festival which seemed completely controlled by Italian and Nazis fascism. In 1938, Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary « Olympia » tied for Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival with another film, supervised by Mussolini's son, and at the expense of the French film "Port of Shadows", directed by Marcel Carné. It was time for democracy to react. The city of Cannes was chosen against Biarritz after a long debate
The Casino has been commandeered. Everything is ready. At the Palm Beach Hotel, the famous ‘Bal des Petits Lits Blancs' (The Little White Beds’ Bal) can begin. Gary Cooper and Mae West have arrived in France aboard an ocean liner, chartered by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and sent to incarnate American glamor.
But on the evening of August 22nd 1939, the city of Cannes discovers the white billboards, next to the Film Festival’s poster, recalling the first contingent of reservists ... Anxiety grows day by day. Shortly before the Film Festival’s opening, a terrible storm breaks out and blows the fireworks on the crowd. The wind rises, the power goes out and everyone starts to panic. The palace’s salons are devastated, the chairs are overturned, the dishes are broken, the curtains are torn ... France is on the eve of war and sees its beautiful dream of a glamorous Film Festival waver… an illusion that fades away in a world which will soon live its darkest hours: World War II.