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Sun, glamour, and luxury: the history of film on the French Riviera

“Cannes is a circus, so you have to have fun with it.” Mathieu Almaric

Venice, 1938. The winners at the Venice Film Festival have been officially decided, but the jury bows to pressure from Hitler and Mussolini just hours before the results are revealed, and changes the announcement in favour of a Nazi propaganda documentary. French diplomat and historian Philippe Erlanger is outraged, and begins talks with Jean Zay, Minister for Education and Fine Arts in France, around a new film festival in France – free of political interference and constraints.

Plans for the new event were put on the backburner during the turmoil of World War II, but in September 1946 the Cannes Film Festival we know and love today was born. The festival grew rapidly in prestige and popularity, and by the mid-1950s the biggest names in film, as well as hundreds of journalists, were descending upon the Riviera each year. In 1954 the first of a string of scandals broke out as Simone Silva was snapped sunbathing topless on the Lérins Islands – piquing global interest in the event even further.

Film on the French Riviera

Although it has attracted glamour and celebrity, The Cannes Film Festival isn’t solely to credit for making the Riviera the place to be today. Hitchcock gave a name to this part of the world in 1929 with his silent film, Easy Virtue. He returned to the dramatic coastline in 1940 with Rebecca, and again in 1954 to shoot To Catch a Thief in technicolour. Many other blockbusters have been filmed on the Riviera since, including Never Say Never Again – starring Sean Connery as James Bond – which features the old fort in Antibes.

Cap d’Antibes, the perfect retreat

From super luxe hospitality to outrageous afterparties, the ceremony that surrounds the Cannes Film Festival has always been extraordinary. One hotel favoured by A-listers including Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood is almost on Parc du Cap’s doorstep. Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, positioned at the southernmost tip of Cap d’Antibes, provides old-world glamour and utmost privacy to Hollywood stars and royalty. The palatial hotel boasts 22 acres of lush land, hidden amidst a forest of pine. With 117 guest rooms and two private villas to choose from, Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is a cherished find for any Film Festival nominee.

We are looking forward to extending a warm welcome to this year’s Film Festival nominees when they arrive on the Riviera next week. Year after year it is an honour to share our beautiful coastal home with such world-class talent.

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