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Cannes turns 70 this year. The one-of-a-kind carnival of film, fashion, skin and scandal has survived Hitler and the hippies, jewel heists and muggings, fake terror threats and even the horror that was Borat's mankini.
Through the years, the festival has been a place for romance — it's where Prince Rainier wooed Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot flirted with Kirk Douglas and Ryan Gosling bromanced Nicolas Winding Refn.
It's been a place for business: where the majors and the moochers came to shill for their films, with publicity stunts both boffo (tanks! giant flying bees!) and brazen, including a bunch of bare Belgian butts on bicycles and endless skin on the beach. Anything to get the word out.
And it's been a spot for spats, snubs and scandal. It's where Lars von Trier called himself a Nazi and got banned, where Spike Lee threatened to take a Louisville Slugger to the jury president and where Michael Moore throttled the French language to within an inch of its life.
Along the way, Cannes has reinvented, revitalized and revolutionized cinema. Not once but again and again and again. The French New Wave was born there. So was New Hollywood. It's where Hitchcock got his start. And Godard. And Truffaut. And Scorsese. And Coppola.
Cannes has been the best of movies and the worst of movies. The festival is Easy Rider and Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now and Pulp Fiction. It's 400 Blows, The Tin Drum, La Dolce Vita, The Leopard and The Birds. But, throughout the years, Cannes has also been Expendables 3, The Brown Bunny and Howard Stern's Private Parts.
For everyone who's ever been, first-timers or, like THR's head film critic Todd McCarthy, a 47-year Cannes veteran, the festival is where memories — good, bad, weird and wonderful — are made.
This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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