7 things you must know before attending cannes film festival

by Barbara

Attending the Cannes Film Festival is a dream for many cinephiles, industry professionals, and cultural enthusiasts. Known for its glamour, exclusivity, and celebration of cinema, the festival is an annual highlight in the film industry calendar. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to attend the Cannes Film Festival, covering everything from accreditation and ticket acquisition to dress codes and navigating the festival site.

Accreditation and Ticket Acquisition

Obtaining Accreditation

Accreditation is essential for gaining access to many of the events and screenings at the Cannes Film Festival. The festival offers different types of accreditation depending on your role and purpose:

  • Festival Accreditation: For industry professionals such as filmmakers, producers, actors, and journalists. This accreditation grants access to various screenings, events, and the Marché du Film (Film Market).
  • Press Accreditation: Designed for members of the press, including journalists, photographers, and media personnel. This type provides access to press screenings, press conferences, and other media-specific events.
  • Cinéphiles Accreditation: Available to film enthusiasts, students, and members of film associations. It offers access to a selection of screenings and certain sections of the festival.

To apply for accreditation, visit the official Cannes Film Festival website during the accreditation period, which typically opens a few months before the festival. You will need to fill out an application form and provide supporting documents, such as proof of industry affiliation or a letter of recommendation. Acceptance is not guaranteed and is based on the festival’s discretion.


Booking Tickets

Once accredited, you can book tickets through the festival’s official online box office. Here are the steps:

  • Log In: Use your accreditation credentials to log into the online ticketing portal.
  • Select Screenings: Browse the schedule and select the films and events you wish to attend.
  • Book Tickets: Follow the prompts to book your tickets. Some screenings may be in high demand, so it’s advisable to book as early as possible.
  • Confirmation: After booking, you will receive a confirmation email. Tickets can usually be picked up at designated locations on-site.

For those without accreditation, limited public tickets may be available, but these are typically hard to come by and require early booking.

Participation Conditions

For Professionals

Professionals attending the Cannes Film Festival enjoy a range of benefits, including access to industry-specific events, networking opportunities, and exclusive screenings. Here are the key conditions:

  • Networking Events: Invitations to cocktail parties, networking lounges, and industry panels.
  • Priority Access: Early or priority access to screenings and the Marché du Film.
  • Exclusive Areas: Entry to restricted areas such as the Palais des Festivals, where major premieres and events are held.

For Film Lovers

Film lovers with Cinéphiles Accreditation have a different experience, with access tailored to non-professional attendees:

  • Public Screenings: Access to public screenings in the Cinéma de la Plage (Beach Cinema) and certain theaters.
  • Special Screenings: Invitations to special events and screenings curated for film enthusiasts.
  • Cultural Events: Participation in cultural and educational events, such as discussions and workshops.

Movie Screening Schedule

The Cannes Film Festival offers a rich and diverse program of screenings across multiple venues. The daily screening schedule is typically released a few weeks before the festival starts. Here’s how you can stay updated:

Finding the Schedule

  • Official Website: The most reliable source for the screening schedule is the official Cannes Film Festival website.
  • Festival App: Download the festival’s official app for real-time updates, notifications, and personalized scheduling.
  • Program Guides: Printed program guides are available on-site and provide detailed information on screening times and locations.

Daily Screening Times

Screenings usually start in the morning and run until late at night. Here is a typical daily structure:

  • Morning Screenings: Often reserved for press and industry professionals.
  • Afternoon Screenings: Include a mix of competition films, special presentations, and out-of-competition screenings.
  • Evening Screenings: Feature high-profile premieres and gala events, often held at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.
  • Late Night Screenings: Midnight screenings of genre films or cult classics.

Theaters and Venues

The main venues include:

  • Palais des Festivals: The primary venue, housing the Grand Théâtre Lumière and other key theaters.
  • Salle Debussy: Another major venue for official selections and special screenings.
  • Cinéma de la Plage: An open-air cinema on the beach, offering free screenings for the public.
  • Other Venues: Various smaller theaters and screening rooms around Cannes.

Dress Code

The Cannes Film Festival is known for its strict dress code, especially for high-profile events. Here’s what you need to know:

Red Carpet Events

  • Men: A black tie (tuxedo), white dress shirt, black bow tie, and black dress shoes are required.
  • Women: Evening gowns or formal dresses. High heels are often expected, although recent years have seen some relaxation of this rule.

General Screenings

  • Smart Casual: For non-red carpet events, smart casual attire is acceptable. This includes dress shirts, blouses, slacks, and dresses.
  • Daytime Events: More relaxed attire is permissible, but it’s always best to err on the side of formality.

Tips for Dressing

  • Be Prepared: Always have a formal outfit ready, as invitations to high-profile events can come last minute.
  • Comfort Matters: Cannes involves a lot of walking and standing, so choose comfortable yet stylish shoes.
  • Respect the Code: Adhering to the dress code shows respect for the festival’s traditions and can influence your chances of gaining entry to exclusive events.

Site Guide

Navigating the Cannes Film Festival can be daunting, but with some preparation, it becomes manageable.

Security Checkpoints

  • Bag Checks: Expect thorough bag checks at all entrances. Carry only essential items to speed up the process.
  • Identification: Always have your accreditation badge and ID with you, as they will be checked regularly.

Admission Processes

  • Ticket Scanning: Tickets are scanned at the entrance to each screening. Ensure your ticket QR code is easily accessible.
  • Timing: Arrive early for screenings and events to secure good seats and avoid missing the start.

Getting Around

  • Maps and Guides: Use the official map provided by the festival, available both online and in print.
  • Shuttle Services: The festival offers shuttle services between major venues. Check the schedule and routes in advance.
  • Walking: Most venues are within walking distance. Comfortable shoes are a must.

Networking Areas

  • Lounges and Bars: Designated areas where professionals can network and relax.
  • Festival Village: A hub for accredited attendees to meet, work, and socialize.

Last Minute Entry

Even if you haven’t secured tickets in advance, you still have a chance to catch screenings.

Joining the Last Minute Queue

  • Location: Last minute queues are usually located near the entrance of the screening venues.
  • Timing: Arrive at least 1-2 hours before the screening. The earlier, the better your chances.
  • Procedure: Staff will let in as many people as there are available seats. Having accreditation can increase your chances.

Success Rate

  • Popular Screenings: High-demand films have a lower success rate for last minute entries.
  • Less Popular Screenings: Smaller films or early morning screenings often have higher availability for last minute attendees.

Tips for Success

  • Patience: Be prepared to wait and possibly not get in. Have a backup plan.
  • Networking: Sometimes connections made during the festival can lead to unexpected opportunities for entry.

Free Events

The Cannes Film Festival isn’t only about exclusive events; there are several free activities open to the public.

Beach Movie Screenings

  • Cinéma de la Plage: Offers free screenings every evening. Bring a blanket or beach chair for comfort.
  • Variety: Films range from classics to recent hits and sometimes include Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Cultural Events

  • Workshops and Panels: Some educational events are open to the public. Check the festival program for details.
  • Exhibitions: Art and film-related exhibitions are often held in public spaces around Cannes.

Festival Atmosphere

  • Celebrity Sightings: Even without a ticket, you can experience the festival atmosphere and possibly spot celebrities around town.
  • Public Areas: Explore the streets of Cannes, which are vibrant with festival-related activities, including street performances and pop-up events.


Attending the Cannes Film Festival is a unique and enriching experience, offering a blend of high-profile premieres, cultural events, and networking opportunities. By understanding the accreditation process, participating conditions, and logistical details, you can make the most of your visit. Whether you’re a film professional or a passionate cinephile, Cannes has something to offer for everyone. With careful planning and a bit of patience, you can immerse yourself in the magic of one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.


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