Main procedures are Films Selected for Cannes

by Barbara

The Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious and anticipated events in the global film industry, is renowned for its celebration of cinematic excellence and innovation. Every year, filmmakers from around the world vie for the chance to showcase their work on this illustrious platform. However, the selection process is shrouded in mystery and often seems as elusive as winning the coveted Palme d’Or itself. This article delves into the intricate and multifaceted process of how films are selected for the Cannes Film Festival, exploring the roles of the selection committee, submission criteria, the impact of festival programmers, and the influence of global cinematic trends.

The Prestige of Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival, established in 1946, has evolved into an event that not only honors cinematic achievement but also sets the tone for the global film industry. Winning an award at Cannes, particularly the Palme d’Or, is considered one of the highest accolades in the film world. The festival features various sections, including the Official Selection (which comprises the Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out of Competition, Special Screenings, and Short Films), the Directors’ Fortnight, and the Critics’ Week. Each section has its own set of criteria and goals, but all contribute to the festival’s overall reputation for showcasing the best in contemporary cinema.


The Selection Committee: Guardians of Quality

At the heart of the Cannes selection process is the Selection Committee, a group of esteemed industry professionals, including filmmakers, critics, and other experts. This committee is responsible for viewing and evaluating thousands of submissions each year. The committee’s composition can vary annually, but it always includes individuals with a profound understanding of cinema and a keen eye for artistic merit.


The Selection Committee operates under the leadership of the festival’s Artistic Director, a role currently held by Thierry Frémaux. The Artistic Director’s vision and taste significantly influence the selection process. However, the decision-making is collaborative, with each committee member bringing their unique perspective to the table. The diversity within the committee helps ensure that the films chosen reflect a wide range of styles, cultures, and voices.


Submission Process: Opening the Door to the World

The journey to Cannes begins with the submission process. Filmmakers from around the globe can submit their works through an online portal on the festival’s official website. The submissions are open for a specified period, typically from November to March. There are no restrictions on genre, but the festival does require that the films be premieres, meaning they should not have been previously shown in any other international festival or released in theaters.

The submission process is highly competitive, with thousands of entries each year. To streamline this process, the festival has set forth several guidelines and categories. Films can be submitted for consideration in different sections, including the Main Competition, Un Certain Regard, and Short Films. Each category has specific requirements regarding length, format, and production dates.

Initial Screening: The First Cut

Once submissions are closed, the Selection Committee begins the daunting task of initial screening. This phase involves watching each film in its entirety, often requiring committee members to view multiple films daily. The initial screening is a critical step, as it helps narrow down the vast pool of submissions to a more manageable number.

During this stage, the committee looks for several key elements:

  • Originality and Innovation: Cannes is known for its avant-garde selections. Films that offer fresh perspectives, innovative storytelling techniques, or unique visual styles tend to stand out.
  • Artistic Merit: The festival values artistic excellence. High-quality cinematography, compelling narratives, strong performances, and effective use of sound and music are crucial factors.
  • Relevance and Impact: Films that address important social, political, or cultural issues often resonate with the committee. The festival aims to reflect the contemporary world and its challenges.
  • Technical Proficiency: While artistic vision is paramount, technical competence cannot be overlooked. Films must exhibit a certain level of professionalism in their production values.

The Role of Festival Programmers

In addition to the Selection Committee, festival programmers play a significant role in the selection process. Programmers are responsible for curating the various sections of the festival, ensuring a diverse and balanced lineup. They often attend other film festivals, industry events, and private screenings to scout potential selections for Cannes.

Programmers have deep industry connections and a thorough understanding of global cinematic trends. Their insights help shape the festival’s program, ensuring that it remains relevant and cutting-edge. They also engage in discussions with filmmakers, producers, and distributors to secure premieres and exclusive screenings.

Un Certain Regard: Spotlighting Unique Voices

Un Certain Regard, a section within the Official Selection, was introduced in 1978 to recognize original and different storytelling. This section highlights films that possess unique narratives or unconventional approaches. The selection criteria for Un Certain Regard emphasize innovation and experimentation, offering a platform for emerging filmmakers and bold artistic expressions.

The selection process for Un Certain Regard is similar to the Main Competition but with a distinct focus on diversity and risk-taking. Films in this section are often characterized by their daring, challenging the boundaries of traditional filmmaking.

Short Films: Breeding Ground for Future Talent

Short films have their own dedicated competition at Cannes, showcasing the talents of up-and-coming filmmakers. The selection process for short films is rigorous, with thousands of entries vying for a limited number of spots. The Short Films selection committee, separate from the main committee, evaluates these submissions based on similar criteria of originality, artistic merit, and impact.

Short films provide a glimpse into the future of cinema, often serving as a launching pad for new directors. Many renowned filmmakers, such as Martin Scorsese and Pedro Almodóvar, began their careers with short films at Cannes. The festival’s commitment to nurturing new talent is evident in the prominence it gives to short films.

Special Screenings and Out of Competition: Honoring Excellence Beyond Competition

In addition to the competitive sections, Cannes also features Special Screenings and Out of Competition films. These categories allow the festival to showcase a broader range of works, including documentaries, restored classics, and highly anticipated films from established directors.

Special Screenings often include films that have significant cultural or historical value, providing audiences with a rich and varied cinematic experience. Out of Competition films, while not vying for the Palme d’Or, still receive considerable attention and acclaim. These selections often feature big-name directors and star-studded casts, adding to the festival’s allure.

The Influence of Global Trends

Cannes is not isolated from the broader trends and shifts in the global film industry. The festival’s selections often reflect current issues, technological advancements, and evolving audience preferences. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the representation of diverse voices, including films by women, LGBTQ+ stories, and works from underrepresented regions.

The rise of streaming platforms has also impacted the selection process. While Cannes traditionally prioritizes theatrical releases, the increasing prominence of digital distribution cannot be ignored. The festival has had to navigate this new landscape, balancing its commitment to the cinematic experience with the realities of modern film consumption.

The Final Selection: Crafting the Lineup

After months of screening, discussions, and deliberations, the Selection Committee finalizes the lineup. This process involves intense debate and careful consideration, as the committee aims to present a program that is both cohesive and reflective of the festival’s standards.

The final selection is typically announced in April, about a month before the festival begins. This announcement generates significant buzz and anticipation, as filmmakers, industry professionals, and cinephiles eagerly await the reveal of the official program.

Challenges and Controversies

The selection process for Cannes is not without its challenges and controversies. The sheer volume of submissions means that many deserving films inevitably go unnoticed. Additionally, the subjective nature of artistic evaluation can lead to disagreements and debates, both within the committee and in the public sphere.

The festival has also faced criticism for its perceived biases, including accusations of favoritism towards certain filmmakers or countries. Efforts have been made to address these concerns, with increased transparency and a more inclusive approach to selection. However, the inherent subjectivity of the process means that complete objectivity is impossible.


Selecting films for the Cannes Film Festival is a complex and nuanced process that combines artistic judgment, industry knowledge, and a keen awareness of global trends. The dedication and expertise of the Selection Committee, programmers, and other stakeholders ensure that the festival continues to be a beacon of cinematic excellence.

The journey from submission to screening at Cannes is arduous, but for those who make it, the rewards are immense. The festival offers an unparalleled platform for filmmakers to showcase their work, reach new audiences, and gain critical acclaim. As the film industry evolves, Cannes remains a steadfast champion of artistic vision and innovation, celebrating the best of cinema from around the world.


Related topics:

11 Factors that Define the Cannes Film Festival

Best Cannes Films 2024

Horror Films Selected at the Cannes Film Festival



You may also like


Rnada is a movie portal. The main columns include trailers, movie reviews, celebrities, movie knowledge, news

Copyright © 2023