Since The Cannes Film Festival and the Cannes Film Market both start next Thursday, May 11, I thought today would be a great time to share some insight on both events. For those of you who are headed to Cannes, this article will help you get the most out of your trip. However, should you not be headed to the South of France to experience the world’s greatest film festival and film sales market, you can always keep this information handy for your future treks to Cannes. After all, every filmmaker should experience Cannes at least once in his or her lifetime, since no other film festival or film market on the planet can do more for your career. So, let’s dive into what you need to know before you go.

The Cannes Film Festival
The 64TH Cannes Film Festival runs from May 11-22, 2011. Fifty films will be included as Official Selections, with Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris premiering on opening night, and director Christophe Honore’s The Beloved closing this year’s event. This year’s Jury President is Robert De Niro.

The Cannes Film Market
The Cannes Film Market runs from May 11-20, 2011. With 10,000+ participants, over 4,000 films represented, 1,500 screens and millions of dollars spent to promote films; The Cannes Film Market is clearly the biggest film market in the world. The market, which began in 1959, offers 34 screening rooms, most of which are equipped for 3D and digital films.

Cannes Is Not Open To The Public
Unlike other great film festivals like Sundance and Toronto, The Cannes Film Festival does not offer tickets to the general public. Thus, the only way to attend Cannes is to be an “accredited film professional”. This means that interested people must fill out a form detailing their film experience and film credits, and hope the festival and or film market committees approve them. The good news here is that once you get approved and attend the event, other film professionals from around the world will surround you – which means the contacts you make while you’re in Cannes will be both meaningful and substantial.

Festival Passes VS. Market Badges
If you are a credited filmmaker, you may qualify for a “filmmaker festival pass” which is free in most cases. But remember, a Cannes Film Festival pass will restrict you from attending the Cannes Film Market, which is where most of your meaningful contacts may be made.

However, if you are not a credited filmmaker, you may need to acquire a Cannes Film Market Badge, which costs north of 1,000 Euros per person. The only good news here is the Market Badges are also good for all Cannes Film Festival screenings, including the “Red Carpet” premieres.

Red Carpet Premieres
No matter what, you must wiggle your way into at least one premiere while you’re in Cannes. They are, in short, incredible. The main competition premieres take place at the Grand Theatre Lumiere, a 2,300-seat state of the art theatre (minus the air conditioning situation, because it’s always damn hot in the balcony!) Without question, the Grand Lumiere is the single greatest and most significant theater to premiere your film on the planet.

Men must wear a tuxedo with a bowtie while attending a premiere, and women must be dressed elegantly. While the security will usually allow a black suit instead of a tux slide, they will turn away men who don’t have bowtie’s on. Trust me on this one, the French love their rules, and this is one rule they enjoy enforcing.

Short Film Corner
The Short Film Corner, which is housed at the Cannes Film Market, is home to some of the most original and creative short films in the world. In “short,” the Short Film Corner is an excellent place for filmmakers to show their films to producers, film festival programmers and even film investors, from around the world. According to the organizers of the Short Film Corner, here are some statistics from 2010:

86 countries represented, including 24% of the total entries from France, 18% from the USA, and 15% from the UK.

There were 1,728 registered short films generated 26500 viewings in 47 viewing booths. Additionally, in 2010, there were 2753 subscribers to the Short Film Corner.

Thus, for those filmmakers who have short films, or are trying to turn their short into a feature film, the Short Film Corner is an essential place to experience while at Cannes.

The Market Guide
Many people (including myself) believe that the Cannes Film Market Guide is worth the cost of the entire Cannes trip. While such a statement is a bit exaggerated, the Market Guide is an incredibly thick “Bible of Film Professionals”, which includes contact information for tens of thousands of film professionals, representing thousands of companies based in over 100 countries.  In fact, the 2010 Market Guide included 1,023 pages of contact information.

The American Pavilion
The American Pavilion is an oceanfront restaurant, meeting and conference facility, which is placed on the sand (literally). This is the absolute best place to meet American film professionals; including those you never thought you had access to (major directors, producers, studio executives, agents, etc.) While there is a cost to get a festival long pass to the pavilion, it may be well worth your money to do so, especially if you’re attending Cannes for the first time.

The American Pavilion Student Program
Current college students who are interested in film should seriously consider applying to the American Pavilion Student Program. This program offers students jobs waiters, waitresses and related staff at the American Pavilion. Don’t laugh; if you’re a college student, there is no better way to get 50-100 real contacts during your time at Cannes. Besides, most film professionals have a soft spot for students, so you may even get an internship or job out of it.

Okay friends, that’s all I’ve got for today. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next week!

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