Cannes is the biggest, most famous and prestigious film festival in the world. Best known for starlets on the beach, stars living it up on yachts, the festival also has a proud history of upholding artistic standards within an industry increasingly dominated by the bottom line. Everyone has their own favourite Cannes moment. Jean-Paul Sartre strolling the Croisette in a bathing suit in 1947; Brigitte Bardot doing the same, to rather different effect, in 1953 - the list goes on. A favourite is the 1998 screening of Armageddon, during which Bruce Willis' performance spontaneously convulsed an entire audience of professional moviegoers with laughter. In 1939, the world's leading film festival - Venice - was apparently being run by Fascist stooges. In response, the enterprising French drew up plans for the first Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, the war intervened and only one movie - The Hunchback of Notre Dame - was actually screened. In 1946, the first complete festival went ahead. It soon consolidated its post-war head start and, despite various changes to its structure over the years, has been the world's leading festival for as long as anyone can remember. Most of the action takes place at the famous Palais des Festivals, although screenings do take place all over the town. The beach is the place to see the starlets doing their thing, trying to get noticed by the cameras. The festival doesn't usually annouce the dates for the next festival until late in the year. However the festival always runs in May and usually starts on the first or second Wednesday, and runs for 12 days (until the following Sunday).

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