The reveal of each new Cannes poster has become an annual event that’s almost as hotly anticipated as the lineup of films that will be playing at that year’s edition of the festival. And while most of the major festivals have their own brand of one-sheets, there’s something uniquely special — even sacrosanct — about Cannes’ take on the tradition. From the evocative illustrations of the ’40s and ’50s, to the trippy designs of the ’70s, the use of auteur sketches that followed, and the recent focus on the icons who made Cannes what it is today, these posters have always channeled the glamour and imagination that flow underneath the film world’s signature fortnight.
In honor of the newly revealed 2019 edition — which pays wonderful tribute to the late, great Agnès Varda with a 1954 photo of her from the set of her first movie, “La Pointe Courte” — here are the 25 best Cannes posters in the festival’s 72-year history, presented in chronological order. Browse all of them on the festival’s site.
Designed by French painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue (who specialized in portraits of Paris’ most beautiful women), this poster was finished just in time for the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which was then postponed seven years until after World War II.
Created by Leblanc, this sunny poster welcomed people to the first proper edition of Cannes.
An original illustration by A.M. Rodicq.
Designed by legendary French engraver, illustrator, and decorator Jean-Denis Maillart.
Another classic design by A.M. Rodicq, who was Cannes’ go-to artist during the festival’s most formative years.
Another evocative classic by Jean-Denis Maillart, and perhaps the most elegant illustration that ever made its way onto a Cannes poster.
An original illustration by Jean-Claude Moreau.
Things started to get a bit trippy in the ’74 with Georges Lacroix’s unforgettable winged eyeball.
Fresh off illustrating the Polish editions of Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” artist Wojciech Siudmak brought a surrealist touch to the Croisette.
After getting away with his previous commissions for Cannes, Wojciech Siudmak shot for the skies with an illustration that reaffirmed the festival’s core beliefs that cinema is divine, nudity is no big deal, and peacocks are never out of place.
Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon contributed this design in his classic eerie, hollow, and hyper-saturated style. It was somehow the perfect fit for an all-time edition of the festival that premiered films like “Apocalypse Now,” “Days of Heaven,” and Werner Herzog’s “Woyzeck.”
The gorgeous 1982 poster was framed around an illustration that Federico Fellini originally drew for “Amarcord.”
Continuing with the theme of using colorful drawings by famous directors, the 1983 festival highlighted this typically lush “Kagemusha” sketch by Akira Kurosawa.
The work of design agency Information and Strategie, the 1985 poster rebuked a decade that isn’t exactly known for classy graphic design and delivered an elegant tribute to cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge.
Again designed by Information et Stratégie, the 1986 poster celebrates dozens of cinematic icons, from King Kong to Charlie Chaplin and a bunch more you can see if you squint.
French artist Henry Cueco contributed this fragmented portrait of a seagull, which is broken up into the frames of a film.
Another Fellini drawing, this wistful sketch of an iconic moment from “La Strada” is a surprisingly low key design for a year dominated by “Pulp Fiction,” but — in hindsight — its tenderness and eloquence feel like a necessary counterbalance.
Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love” was only a few years back in 2006, but it had already become iconic enough to be featured as the key art for the entire Cannes Film Festival. This evocative poster, which nods at an unforgettable moment from Wong’s film, was created by Gabriel Guedj from a set photograph by Wing Shya.
The history behind the 2008 poster — based on a photograph by David Lynch — is too interesting to curtail. Here’s the full story from Cannes’ official website:
The author of the poster of the Festival de Cannes 2008 is Pierre Collier, a cinema poster artist , who worked from a photograph by David Lynch who represents the model of the Crazy Horse Anouk Marguerite. “A few months ago, reading Eric Reinhart’s latest novel, “Cinderella”, rekindled in me a taste for the Palais Royal quarter. Often too hastily traversed, as it adjoins the most excellent “Chez Georges” restaurant, rue du Mail… One afternoon that I granted myself entirely devoted to strolling, I crossed the threshold of the covered passageway Vero Dodat with all its subtle melancholy. There one comes across a gallery, simply named “Galerie du Passage”, which had on display a troubling exhibit of fantastical shoes in situ, laid out at the feet of extravagant, bared creatures. This was David Lynch’s photograph exhibit, “FETISH”, sponsored by the brilliant creator of shoes, Christian Louboutin. I myself was confronted by an order as flattering as it was perilous: the Festival de Cannes had asked me to design the poster for the 2008 edition. Once one has reasonably refrained from employing the usual cast of the Red Steps, film strips, cameras, clapboards and palm trees, the temptation of a homage in the blink of an eye becomes a must. But the Festival wished to look forward. I quickly proposed a typographical principle from the undying font “Avant Garde Demi, Capitals in 100 spacing”, then that of “fade-in”, such as ritually employed by Jean-Luc Godard in his “Hi(stories) of Cinema”. But what should appear in it? What would be the nature of the revelation? My mind was a total blank. It is then that I remembered the photograph by David Lynch, that face of a woman revealed to concealed eyes… Reception / Screening… a moment in suspense… in the grip of sensuality. Platinum blond like a reminiscence of Norma Jean. A sanguine mouth offered like an echo attentive to this anthracite maskscreen… in the expectation of a revelation, magic? The cinema.”
For the 2011 poster, the H5 design agency artfully reframed this classic photo of Faye Dunaway, taken by filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg in 1970.
A Paris-based agency called Bronx (it’s confusing) created this gorgeous, high-contrast design from an Otto L. Bettmann photo of Marilyn Monroe.
The 2014 poster, framed around a sepia-toned close-up of Marcello Mastroianni from “8 1/2,” is absolutely dripping with Cannes style and cool.
Based on a photograph of Ingrid Bergman by David Seymour, and designed by Hervé Chigioni and Gilles Frappier, the 2015 poster is a spare but spectacular beauty. While the festival’s recent decision to base all of its posters on previous films might seem limiting, this illustration proves that there’s plenty of room to make something new and unique within those parameters.
No one knows who took that photo of Claudia Cardinale dancing on a Rome rooftop in 1959, but no one will forget the vivid way that Philippe Savoir breathed hot-blooded new life into the image.
An immortal image from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou” got the Instagram treatment for the 2018 poster, but the results somehow felt fresh and familiar all at once, as this hyper-saturated rendering of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina’s kiss captured the warmth and holiness of seeing movies along the Croisette.