The special football match sideshow at the Cannes Film Festival

Posted On
Posted By admin

As film festival season approaches each year, every figure in the cinema industry turns their eyes and attention to one of the most prestigious events in the calendar, the iconic Cannes Film Festival. Since 1946, Cannes has served as a celebration of the cinematic medium and has seen scores upon scores of industry figures descend upon the French Riviera to network, make new deals, and watch the latest movies.

The highly sought-after Palme d’Or is up for grabs each year at Cannes, which recognises excellence in acting, directing and storytelling, while other prizes like the Un Certain Regard also celebrate the most innovative works of cinema. Cannes is simply one of the most glamorous events in the cinematic year and heralds the true artistry of the film medium.

However, away from all the glitz and the glamour, the marketing, and the tuxedos and gowns of Cannes, a special event takes place that serves as a welcome refresher to the affected nature of the film festival. A humble game of football featuring producers, directors, actors and film executives occurs each year, in which the deal-making and kiss-arsing cease for just 90 minutes of escapism.

The first football match at Cannes took place in 1996 when film industry figure Peter Wetherell asked some of his fellow executives to join in, thus escaping the marketing hell that can sometimes become the biggest event on the European cinema calendar, and the game becomes something of an annual fixture that so many industry heads looked forward more than the red carpet.

Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, known for his role in Heroes, once told THR of the joy of being able to switch off from the main festival and take part in a good old game of footie. “It’s the highlight of my festival,” he said. “It takes the pressure right off, to take one day and go have a football game with the lads. It’s a wonderful thing every time I’m in Cannes.”

According to the actor, anyone is welcome to join, but they must take it seriously, for the game is no trifling matter. “Be prepared to play,” he noted with adamance. “When you’re on the pitch, there’s no industry, there’s no networking. On the pitch, nothing matters but the game.”

There are some serious titans of European cinema who also take part in the iconic football game at Cannes, including none other than the legendary Werner Herzog. In fact, the director behind Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo once pointed out how the Cannes game can become a feisty fixture where injuries are a frequent occurrence; such is its competitive nature.

Speaking on This Cultural Life, Herzog noted, “I used to be a goalkeeper until I had a collision in a game at the Cannes Film Festival between directors and actors, and Maximillian Schell was chasing a ball like a bison and ran into me. My elbow snapped in the wrong direction and bent forward instead of backwards, but we actually became friends over this incident.”

So while it’s the red carpet on the Palais des Festivals et des Congres that often takes the limelight at Cannes each year, there’s another facet to the iconic event that’s perceived as more important by many figures in the film industry, a moment when the marketing and peacocking can be put to one side as people take to the pitch to do sporting battle and play the beautiful game as it was intended.

[embedded content]

Related Topics

Related Post