Cosmopolitan Spaces of International Film Festivals: Cannes Film Festival and the French Riviera
Abstract: Since its inception, the Cannes Film Festival was envisioned as a continuation, expansion and enhancement of the Riviera’s long-established cosmopolitan, carnivalesque and exclusive space. The Riviera’s cosmopolitanism was shaped by travel and the mobility of its international visitors, making it into a non-place; some of them, in addition, transformed the Riviera through their horticultural activity, thus literally rooting themselves in the Riviera. The particular version of the Riviera’s cosmopolitanism was mirrored in the internal architecture of the festival, in terms of its audiences and programming, which was international, elitist and characterised by the interplay of place and non-place.In this article, I argue that the origins of the festival as a cosmopolitan event are found in the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century cultural history of the French Riviera—as it was rendered on the pages of the diarists who travelled to the region, and realised in the activities of the visual artists living and working there. I contend that the Cannes Film Festival replicates the dynamics and tensions inherent to the space in which it is settled—that of the French Riviera—and thus, it is not only rooted in the Riviera’s culture, but it is also a fascinating extension of the myth of the Riviera.