First Cannes Film Festival is Held
The festival began on September 20, 1946, and 18 nations were represented.
The festival schedule included Austrian American director Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend, Italian director Roberto Rossellini's Open City, French director René Clement's The Battle of the Rails, and British director David Lean's Brief Encounter. At the first Cannes, organizers placed more emphasis on creative stimulation between national productions than on competition. Nine films were honored with the top award: Grand Prix du Festival.
At the end of the 1930s, shocked by the interference of the fascist governments of Italy and Germany in the selection of films for the Mostra del cinema di Venezia, Jean Zay, the French Minister of National Education, decided to create an international cinematographic festival in France, on the proposal of Philippe Erlanger and the support of the British and Americans. Many towns were proposed as candidates, as Vichy, Biarritz or Algiers, although finally Cannes was the chosen one; thus, Le Festival International de Cannes was born.
In June 1939, Louis Lumière agreed to be the president of the first festival, set to be held from 1 to 30 September 1939. The German attack on Poland on 1 September 1939, followed by the declaration of war against Germany by France and the United Kingdom on 3 September, ended the first edition of the festival before it started.
The festival remained in hiatus during the war, re-emerging for a second attempt on 20 September 1946 under the joint aegis of the French ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education. As the City of Cannes had yet to make good on its promise of a dedicated venue, the first festival-proper took place in the old winter casino with the 82-year-old Loius Lumière taking on the duties of inaugural jury president. Films presented for the first festival included Billy Wilder's "Lost Weekend", David Lean's "Brief Encounter", Roberto Rossellini's "Rome Open City", George Cukor's "Gaslight", Walt Disney's "Make Mine Music", Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious", and Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast". Films from Charles Laughton, Howard Hawks, and Cecil B. De Mille were also screened out of competition.