1968 Cannes Film Festival

The 21st Cannes Film Festival was to have been held from 10 to 24 May 1968, before being curtailled due to the turmoil of May 1968 in France.[3][4]

1968 Cannes Film Festival
Official poster of the 21st Cannes Film Festival, an original illustration by Beaugendre.[1]
Opening filmGone with the Wind
Closing filmRocky Road to Dublin
(Final film screened)
LocationCannes, France
AwardsNo awards given
Hosted byGrace Kelly
No. of films28 (In Competition)[2]
4 (Out of competition)
11 (Short Film)
Festival date10 May 1968 (1968-05-10) – 24 May 1968 (1968-05-24)


This edition was marked by the previous controversy around the Langlois affair. On February 9, 1968 a meeting of the board of directors of the Cinémathèque Française (a non-profit organization), in which the representatives of the Ministry of Culture and of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (which depended on the latter) decided to remove Henri Langlois, director and co-founder of the Cinémathèque, from his position. Even though they were not a majority, Langlois supporters such as François Truffaut refused to cast their vote.[5] André Malraux, the French Minister of Culture, had prompted this decision because he wanted to implement managerial changes to gain more influence in the institution. After another vote Pierre Barbin, director of the Tours and Annecy film festivals, became the new director.[6]

Langlois was a very popular and beloved figure and this decision sparked a number of protests and demonstrations by filmmakers of the French New Wave, as well as actors, critics and fans who demonstrated in front of the Cinémathèque at the Palais de Chaillot on February 12.[7] Many internationally acclaimed film directors like Charles Chaplin, Stanley Kubrick, Roberto Rossellini, Orson Welles and Luis Buñuel also sent letters in support of Langlois and even threatened to retrieve the copies of their films previously given to the Cinemathéque.[8] On February 14, another demonstration took place but this time artists were joined by Sorbonne University students in what was a prelude of what was going to happen in the following months. French filmmakers decided to form the Committee for the Defense of the Cinémathèque. At this point, the issue was no longer cultural and had become political.

After long negotiations, on April 22, a special meeting of the general assembly of the Cinémathèque was called and voted to reinstate Langlois, with the approval of Malraux who also pulled the government's representatives from the assembly but in exchange cut public funding to a minimum.[9]

The FestivalEdit

The festival opened on May 10 with the 70 mm restored version of Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming.[10] American film actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly served as the host of the opening and closing ceremonies.[3]

Personalities of French cinema were sensitive to the demonstrations which were taking place in Paris. On the night of May 10 to May 11, violent clashes between students and the police took place in the Latin Quarter in what became the first night of the barricades. Following these incidents, the French Critics Association issued a statement asking the participants of the festival to join the demonstration of support for striking students scheduled on May 13 and called for the suspension of the festival and for those in Cannes to support the students in their "protest against the violent police repression which is an assault on the nation's cultural liberty, the secular traditions of its universities and its democratic principles".[11] However, the organization refused.

On May 17, in Paris the États généraux du cinéma, a general assembly of cinema professionals, called for the Cannes Festival to be stopped. Peter Lennon's documentary Rocky Road to Dublin was screened at the festival. It was the last film to be shown.[12][13][14]

The next day on May 18, a panel discussion of the members of the Committee for the Defense of the Cinémathèque was organized to discuss the Langlois affair, with the presence of directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Gabriel Albicocco, Claude Berri and actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. The discussions were lively and François Truffaut, who had arrived from Paris the day before, explained that while the trains are blocked and the factories on strike, it would be ridiculous to continue the festival. Jean-Luc Godard believed that with this interruption, the cinema will show its solidarity with the student movements. Claude Lelouch, Jean-Claude Carrière, actress Macha Méril as well as jury members Louis Malle and Roman Polanski, joined them to announce in a press conference in the salle Jean Cocteau at the old Palais Croisette that, in solidarity with the workers and the students who were protesting across France, the festival had to be put to an end.[15][16] Subsequently, Louis Malle, Monica Vitti, Roman Polanski, and Terence Young resigned from the international jury while Alain Resnais, Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Miloš Forman asked for the withdrawal of their films of the competition. Louis Malle announced that "the jury is out of state to work".[17]

Polanski was skeptical of these measures because those methods reminded him of what Communists did in his native Poland but ended up supporting the annulment of that year's festival.[3] Also, jury member Vsevolod Rozhdestvensky, a poet from the Soviet Union, considered the idea of cancelling the festival so heinous that he even refused to attend the emergency jury meeting.[18] Director Robert Favre Le Bret claimed: "We will close the festival tomorrow at midday".[19]

That same evening, Peppermint Frappé by Carlos Saura, was the only film pending to be screened. Saura, accompanied by his then girlfriend and protagonist of the film, Geraldine Chaplin, did not want his own film to be watched.[20] However, despite his total opposition the projection began. Saura and Chaplin jumped onstage and yelled asking not to start the projector to the audience's shock. As Favre Le Bret gave the order to open the big curtain that covered the screen, Saura and Chaplin decided to hung on from the curtains to prevent them from pulling back. At this point, they were joined by Truffaut and Godard. The film was not shown and this started a heated discussion and then a physical altercation with the audience who wanted to watch the film.[21][22][23]

As a punishment for all his actions, Truffaut was later declared persona non grata by the organization.[24] Finally on May 19 at 12 p.m. and five days before the established end of the festival, the board of directors led by Robert Favre Le Bret voted unanimously to cancel this edition, not awarding any prize. From the 28 films that were selected to compete for the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, only 11 were screened.[25]


The following people were appointed as the Jury of the 1968 feature film competition:[26]

Feature films

Official selectionEdit

In competition - Feature filmEdit

The following films were due to compete for the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film:[2]

Films out of competitionEdit

The following films were selected to be screened out of competition:[2]

Parallel sectionsEdit

International Critics' WeekEdit

The following feature films were selected to be screened for the 7th International Critics' Week (7e Semaine de la Critique):[27]

Not presented because of the interruption of the festival:


The protests that led to the cancelling of this edition of the festival also brought some changes. On June 14, 1968, French filmmakers like François Truffaut and Louis Malle, among others, took the opportunity to found the Société des Réalisateurs de Films (SRF) with the mission of "defending artistic, moral and professional and economic freedoms of cinematographic creation and participating in the development of new structures of the cinema".[28] In the next year's edition of the festival, it started to organize a parallel selection to the official one called Directors' Fortnight.[29]

In the 2008 edition, forty years later, some of the works that could not be screened at the time were restored: Peppermint Frappé by Carlos Saura, 24 Hours in the Life of a Woman by Dominique Delouche, Anna Karenina by Alexandre Zarkhi and The Long Day's Dying by Peter Collinson. 13 jours en France by Claude Lelouch and François Reichenbach was also shown even though it was not part of the official selection.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "1968 The Festival Poster". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Official Selection 1968: All the Selection". festival-cannes.fr. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Flashback: Cannes 1968". variety.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  4. ^ "1968 - Sous la plage, les pavés (Under the beach, the cobblestones)". cannes-fest.com (in French). Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  5. ^ Lebovics, Herman (1999). Mona Lisa's Escort: Andre Malraux and the Reinvention of French Culture. New York City: Cornell University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-8014-3565-X.
  6. ^ de Baecque, Antoine; Toubiana, Serge (2001). François Truffaut. Folio. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-2-07-041818-3.
  7. ^ Bergan, Ronald (2008). Francois Truffaut: Interviews (Conversations With Filmmakers). Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-934110-13-3.
  8. ^ "HENRI LANGLOIS, 62, HISTORIAN OF FILM". The New York Times. Paris. January 14, 1977. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  9. ^ Menand, Louis (October 13, 2003). "After the Revolution". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  10. ^ "The History of Cannes". RTÉ News. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  11. ^ Roxborough, Scott (March 19, 2020). "Cannes: In 1968, It Took a Revolution, Not Coronavirus, to Close Down the Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Rocky Road to Dublin". leonardo.info. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Righteous Eire". frieze.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013.
  14. ^ X Eisen, Erica (June 18, 2018). "What do you do with your revolution? Rocky Road to Dublin versus 1968 Ireland". British Film Institute. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut". sgtr.wordpress.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  16. ^ Chung, Justin (April 20, 2018). "In May 1968, the Cannes Film Festival ground to a halt. Fifty years later, it's still sparking controversy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  17. ^ Thomas, V.C. "1968 - Sous la plage, les pavés". Volute productions. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  18. ^ Grey, Tobias (May 8, 2008). "Second chance, 40 years later". Variety. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  19. ^ Belinchón, Gregorio (May 12, 2018). "Mayo del 68: el día en que se paró el festival de Cannes". El País (in Spanish). Cannes. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  20. ^ Boquerini (May 3, 2018). "Aquel Festival de Cannes de 1968". El Correo (in Spanish). Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  21. ^ "1968 Cannes fest revisited". canada.com /news. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015.
  22. ^ "Cannes 1968: Fighting on the Beaches". focusfeatures.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Cannes 1968". sgtr.wordpress.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  24. ^ Wise, Damon (May 18, 2018). "Cannes 1968: The Year Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut Led Protests That Shut Down The Festival". Deadline. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  25. ^ Donadio, Rachel (May 17, 2017). "At Cannes, a Rich History of Capturing Politics, Mores and Film Icons". The New York Times. Paris. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  26. ^ "Juries 1968: Long film". festival-cannes.fr. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  27. ^ "7e Selecion de la Semaine de la Critique - 1968". archives.semainedelacritique.com. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  28. ^ "Qui sommes-nous?". SRF.fr. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  29. ^ Wong, Cindy H. (2011). Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8135-5065-7.
  30. ^ "Cannes 2008 - Classics (40th Anniversary of the Movie)". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved April 28, 2020.


  • Institut national de l'audiovisuel: Cannes Festival, May 1968 (commentary in French) Jean-Luc Godard, Roman Polanski, François Truffaut and Louis Malle lead the debate to answer the question: should we stop the festival? Favre le Bret Robert, President of the Festival, announces the festival closed. (duration 10′25″)

External linksEdit