7 Careers Launched By Cannes


The 62nd Cannes Film Festival is nearly upon us. Every year the frenzied fortnight pushes another handful of directors and stars into the limelight.

Most enjoy their five minutes and fade into relative obscurity, but some build full-length careers off the back of their festival success. Like...

Brigitte Bardot

Before: Aspiring ballet dancer, Elle cover model and novice actress.

At Cannes: Bardot became a press sensation after she was photographed in a bikini on the Cannes beachfront during the 1953 festival, hanging out with Hollywood stars Errol Flynn and Kirk Douglas.

She starred in Roger Vadim’s controversial arthouse hit And God Created Woman, and became the sex-kitten pin-up for a generation of boundary-breaking filmmakers.

Steven Soderbergh

Wannabe director working low profile directing and editing gigs in Hollywood and his home town of Baton Rouge.

At Cannes: Soderbergh came to the 1989 festival with his debut film sex, lies and videotape expecting to win nothing.

He came away with the top prize, the Palme D’or, which helped make his film a hit and put American indie back on the movie map.

A short slump before becoming one of the smartest and most prolific American directors working today, creating stylish crime thrillers (Out Of Sight, The Limey), arty issue pictures (Traffic, Che) and all-out blockbusters (Oceans Eleven).

Quentin Tarantino

Before: Bratty motormouthed film-geek with buzzy indie heist movie Reservoir Dogs under his belt. Big in Europe.

At Cannes: Tarantino brought his second film, Pulp Fiction, to the festival in 1994, along with most of the film’s cast. Like Soderbergh, he nabbed the top prize, to the consternation of French cineastes and the particular fury of one boozed up and booing French lady in the audience.

The louche technicolour grunge of Pulp Fiction made Tarantino an instant cult figure, and he made hugely influential US indie films for the rest of the ‘90s, with a throng of brash copycats following in his wake.

Baz Luhrmann

Before: Bit-part actor and director of a theatre stage company in Sydney.

At Cannes: Luhrmann’s first film, Strictly Ballroom, based on one of his earlier stage productions, had its premiere at Cannes in 1992. The director was awarded the Prix De Jeunnese for outstanding work by a young director.

After: Luhrmann goes on to reinvent the musical with his gaudily awesome Shakespeare adaptation Romeo & Juliet, and his downright fabulous Parisian reverie Moulin Rouge.

Lars von Trier

Before: Amateur filmmaker, student, and son of nudist communists.

At Cannes: Von Trier’s debut feature The Element Of Crime was shown at the 1984 ceremony in competition. It didn’t win the main prize, but the stark dystopian thriller bagged a technical award.

After: Von Trier went on to become one of the most controversial and experimental filmmakers in the world, pioneering the anti-Hollywood Dogme movement and causing violent division among critics .

Jamie Bell

Before: Lad from Stockton on Tees aspiring to be an actor.

At Cannes: The euphoric, dancing Brit-hit Billy Elliot with Bell in the lead was shown out of competition at the 2000 festival. Without a Stateside distributor before Cannes, the film generated a monumental buzz and was fought over by several studios.

Bell has become one of our leading young lights, picking a determined and intelligent path through his new Hollywood career: King Kong, Hallam Foe, Defiance and now Tin Tin.

Anna Paquin

Before: New Zealand schoolgirl. Played a skunk in a school play.

At Cannes: Paquin went along to her sister’s audition for the role of Flora in Jane Campion’s period drama The Piano and won the part. The film went on to win the Palme D’or at the 1993 ceremony – the first ever win by a female director, which sent the press into a frenzy.

After: Paquin became the second youngest recipient of an acting Oscar when she was named Best Supporting Actress for the film in 1994.

She sensibly refused a slew of acting offers until she’d finished school, then bounced back as highlights and health-sucking hero Rogue in the massive X-Men trilogy.


Total Film


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