The most exclusive film festival in the world, this invitation-only event shines the spotlight on southern France every May. Near the city’s yacht-lined harbor, you’ll find the red carpet swarming with famous actors and actresses, rising stars, and hopeful contenders for the festival’s most coveted award, the Palme d’Or.
In addition to screening their latest movies, many recent Cannes attendees have used the festival to share messages about gender equality in cinema. In 2015, after a security guard barred a group of women from entering an event because they weren’t wearing high heels, several stars spoke out about the festival’s dress code. And in 2018, actress and jury president Cate Blanchett led 81 other women up the stairs of the main venue. They represented the 82 female directors (compared to 1,688 male directors) who have taken prizes home since the festival’s inception — it was a powerful protest that clearly reflected the growing empowerment of women in the entertainment industry.
To attend: Unfortunately, this festival is not open to the public, so you’ll need to work in the film industry or the press to score an invitation. That said, plenty of tourists hang around the city in May, so if you’d like to enjoy Cannes’ overall atmosphere, that’s always an option.