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Boats in Cannes

Structure of the Cannes Film Festival

Part 2: Parallel Sections

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By the early 1960s, the festival had grown to an extent where some groups started to feel like its focus didn't cover all the bases. To address this concern, the Cannes Film Festival started to develop parallel sections or 'sidebars' - independently run events which were scheduled at the same time as the main festival in Cannes. There are three sidebars sanctioned by the Festival de Cannes, plus the Marché du Film (Film Market).

Semaine Internationale de la Critique

Founded in 1962 by the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma (French Film Critics Association), the Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week) was the world's first film festival sidebar. The event takes place in Cannes at the same time as the Festival de Cannes, but is run independently (although these days there is a lot of coordination between the respective organisations). The principal aim of the Critics' Week is to bring work from first and second time directors to a wider audience. The official selection is far smaller than that of the Festival de Cannes, with around 10 feature films in its competition, and a similar number of shorts. The Critics' Week also hosts a small number of special screenings alongside the competitive sections. Participating films are chosen by an international panel of critics and sponsors. The Critics' Week has a long history of launching talented filmmakers on to the international stage. Notable alumni include, Bernardo Bertolucci, Barbet Schroeder, Ken Loach, Neil Jordan, John Sayles, and Kevin Smith, amongst others. In Cannes, the Critics' Week runs all screenings and other activities from its base at the Miramar on Rue Pasteur.

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

The Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) is the second sidebar to spring up alongside the Festival de Cannes. Following the strife and eventual cancellation of the main festival in 1968, a group of French filmmakers resolved to create a new forum in which films could be presented free of politics, censorship, and elitism. 'The Quinzaine' was inaugurated in 1969 with a bumper programme of 62 features and 26 shorts. Although the programme has subsequently been slimmed down over the decades, the sidebar enjoys a slightly higher profile in Cannes than the Critics' Week due to the larger programme and current focus on films which have an interesting directorial voice. It's also the only Cannes programme which goes on tour after the main event, taking an abridged selection to a number of other cities in France and Europe. Like its older sidebar sibling, the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs is run independently of the Festival de Cannes, but all three organisations now work closely together to ensure a smooth festival experience for all. During the main festival, the Quinzaine is based in a townhouse on the Croisette called La Malmaison, located next to the JW Marriott.

ACID Cannes

The youngest of the sidebars, ACID Cannes was launched in 1993 by the Independent Film Distributors Association in France to showcase a small selection of films from around the world which embody independent spirit and are yet to secure distribution. Each year, the ACID selection screens around nine films and is one of the few Cannes programmes to include feature documentaries. ACID gets its mildly amusing moniker from the acronym for the rather cumbersome French name of its parent organisation – the Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion. The sidebar is also run independently from the Festival de Cannes, and for a long time did not enjoy the same cosy relationship as the other two sidebars. More recently, ACID has been given enhanced status by the Festival de Cannes, so has taken its place as the third 'approved' sidebar event in Cannes. ACID shares space in La Malmaison with the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, and after the main event in May, ACID goes on tour in several cities across France.

Marché du Film

Literally translating to "Film Market", but referred to by most as simply, "The Market", the Marché du Film is by far the largest event of its type in the world. Effectively a giant tradeshow, the Market has been an official part of Cannes since the early 1960s. This is where the film industry gets together to meet and do business, primarily the buying and selling of films. Although the market is run by a semi-autonomous division of the Festival de Cannes (and takes place at the same time), the event is not prestigious in any way. It is simply a business event open to anyone in the film industry who is looking to buy or has something to sell.

In addition to traditional participation as either a buyer or seller, the Market offers a specialist registration track for producers. The Producers' Network was launched in the late-2000s and provides a special programme of events and workshops for newer (but not first-time) producers to make international contacts, broaden their skillset, and get business done in Cannes.

Beyond the registration programme for producers, the Market now has its own little gaggle of sidebars.

Short Film Corner
A dedicated market for short narrative and documentary films, which includes a series of events and workshops for short film makers.

Following the lead set by other major festivals like Sundance and SXSW, in 2014 Cannes added a programme to showcase cutting edge distribution technology and new forms of storytelling. In recent years this has meant a heavy focus on virtual reality, but the programme strives to take a more holistic view of emerging technologies, techniques, and business models. NEXT has a dedicated space in the Village International Pantiero, with events, demos, and free screenings.

Doc Corner
The focus in Cannes is directed firmly on the narrative end of the filmmaking spectrum, but documentary-makers are by nature, a plucky bunch. As a result, the Market has a small dedicated area for those interested in buying and selling factual films to go about their business, and to give the documentary film community a chance to network with their peers.

Frontières Platform
A joint venture between the Marché du Film and the Fantasia International Film Festival, the Frontières Platform provides a dedicated section of industry programming and networking events aimed at genre filmmakers. There's a series of invitation-only forums and mixers, plus a buyer’s showcase where participating genre projects (completed or in post) can be put in front of industry players.

A full rundown on the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, is available in the book, Cannes - A Festival Virgin's Guide (7th Edition).
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