Cannes Film Festival: the Palme d’Or since 1955 in infographics

The Palme d’Or symbol was inspired by the arms of the city of Cannes. GONZALO FUENTES / REUTERS

INFOGRAPHICS – Discover, in figures and graphics, all the Palmes d’Or for 66 years, the nationalities of the award-winning directors, the success of the award-winning films.

The Palme d’Or is the supreme award given by the official jury of the Cannes Film Festival. Although the Festival has existed since 1946, the first prize was awarded in 1955. Before this date, we speak of the “Grand Prix of the International Film Festival”, the reward was in the form of a diploma. The following year, the palm, created by jeweler Lucienne Lazon, disappeared, only to return in 1975. The symbol of the palm was inspired by the arms of the city of Cannes.

But, the palme d’or is above all a list of films that have entered the history of the seventh art. The awarded films are mainly dramas, sentimental, family, historical or psychological. However, among the winning films, we note that documentaries stand out. The World of Silence directed by Jean-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle was awarded in 1956. Almost 50 years later, the documentary by Michael Moore Fahrenheit 9/11, won the prize in 2004. Among the exceptions, three musical films won over the jury: Orfeu Negro, directed by Marcel Camus and released in 1959, Dancer in the Dark by Dane Lars Von Trier but above all Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jaques Demy who won the award in 1964.

Since 1955, seven directors have been part of the coveted circle of double palms. In order: Emir Kusturica was awarded in 1985 and in 1995, Bille August in 1988 and in 1992, Francis Ford Coppola in 1974 and in 1979, the Japanese Shohei Imamura in 1983 and in 1997, the Dardennes Brothers in 1999 and in 2005 and finally Michael Haneke in 2009 and 2012.

France comes second on the podium behind the United States with ten palmes d’or obtained, followed by Italy and the United Kingdom. The period between 1956 and 1966 was a golden age during which French films were regularly rewarded. We will have to wait until 1987 with Under Satan’s Sun of Maurice Pialat to see a French production obtain the supreme reward. American cinema dominates throughout the period with almost a quarter of the prizes won.

Since the 1980s, the films awarded at Cannes have not necessarily been great popular successes. Thus, on average, over the period 1955-2019, the award-winning films did not exceed 500,000 admissions in France. When the storks pass, winner in 1958, remains to this day the most viewed film. It has accumulated more than 5.4 million admissions in France.

Jane Campion is the only female winner of the Palme d’Or to date. for his movie The Piano Lesson, award in 1993. Women are very poorly represented, especially because they are in the minority in the official selection. Apart from 2011 and 2019, there have never been more than three women in competition out of the twenty films vying for the prize.

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Cannes Film Festival: the Palme d’Or since 1955 in infographics