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15 Incredible Films That Premiered at Cannes

henry thomas in 'et the extra terrestrial'
15 Incredible Films That Premiered at CannesArchive Photos - Getty Images

Since the 1940s, the Cannes Film Festival has been a place where actors, directors, and more can come together to celebrate their love of film. The festival usually lasts around 12 days or so and is filled with star-studded red carpets, incredible fashion, and countless after-parties. That all aside, it’s also a great opportunity for filmmakers to come and show their latest movie creations—some for the very first time.

Whether you’ve realized it yet or not, many films that have gone on to become household names have had their world premiere at this renowned festival. From cult classics like Pulp Fiction to award-winning movies like Parasite. Here are 15 incredible films that premiered at Cannes.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction, the cult classic film that stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis, had its world premiere at Cannes in 1994. The movie, which was screened at midnight, was a huge hit and won the festival’s Palme D’Or award that year.

france cinema cannes festival
PATRICK HERTZOG - Getty Images

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom, the super buzzy coming-of-age drama directed by Wes Anderson, opened up the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Not only that, but it was also the first film Anderson ever screened there.

<span class="photo-credit">Dominique Charriau - Getty Images</span>
Dominique Charriau - Getty Images

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Bet you didn’t know that E.T. had its big debut at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. The film was directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and screened during the festival’s last day at its closing gala. The movie, which stars Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, and Drew Barrymore, was an immediate hit.

henry thomas in 'et the extra terrestrial'
Archive Photos - Getty Images

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s fantasy comedy, Midnight in Paris, premiered on May 11, 2011, at Cannes and then was released to the public later that same day.

64th annual cannes film festival
Toni Anne Barson - Getty Images

Drive

Drive, which famously stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who also works as a getaway driver, was shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was so beloved that it earned a standing ovation. Although the film didn’t receive the Palme d’Or that year, it still went home with the Best Director prize.

danish director nicolas winding refn and
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Parasite

A black-and-white version of Parasite was shown during the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The movie, which Bong Joon-ho directed, won the Palme d’Or prize that year—it was the first South Korean film ever to win the top prize.

<span class="photo-credit">Gisela Schober - Getty Images</span>
Gisela Schober - Getty Images

Up

Up, the Pixar movie, directed by Pete Docter, was the first animated film to premiere at the famous festival. It was released to the public a couple of weeks later.

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Moulin Rouge!

Baz Luhrmann’s musical, Moulin Rouge! opened the 2001 Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews. The film, which stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, was nominated for the Palme d’Or that year but did not win, unfortunately.

<span class="photo-credit">Eric TRAVERS - Getty Images</span>
Eric TRAVERS - Getty Images

Apocalypse Now

A handful of years after Francis Ford Coppola released his critically acclaimed Godfather movies, the famous director went to the 1979 Cannes Film Festival to debut his war film, Apocalypse. The film, which stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper, and Larry Fishburne, won the Palme d’Or that year.

francis ford coppola à cannes en 1979
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The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring a laundry list of early-2000s stars like Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, and Jonathan Tucker, premiered during the 1999 festival. It wasn’t until a year later that the movie was widely released.

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The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element had an exciting, themed premiere during the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. For starters, the film studio behind the movie built out a 100,000-square-foot screening area, handed out Fifth Element-inspired Swatches to be used as tickets, had a ballet troupe performed, and had Jean-Paul Gaultier stage a futuristic fashion show.

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PATRICK HERTZOG - Getty Images

Volver

Pedro Almodovar’s Volver may not have won the top prize during its world premiere at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, but it did win Best Actress (which was given to the film’s six starring actresses) and Best Screenplay.

cannes 'volver' photocall
Pascal Le Segretain - Getty Images

Kids

In 1995, Kids director Larry Clark traveled to Cannes with producer Cary Woods and writer/director Harmony Korine to premiere their newest project, Kids. The film, which followed the lives of a group of New York City teens, was both Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson’s debut acting roles.

kids
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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terry Gilliam’s iconic black comedy adventure film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas had its world debut at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. Here, lead actors Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro are pictured arriving at the film’s red carpet premiere.

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PATRICK HERTZOG - Getty Images

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

In 2008, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which stars a trio of big names including Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Scarlett Johansson, had its world premiere at Cannes. A few months later, the film was released worldwide.

cannes 2008 vicky cristina barcelona photocall
Sean Gallup - Getty Images

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