1. There’s a prize for best dog performance.
Every year, a group of journalists gives out an award for best canine performance — the Palm Dog. This year’s winner was the ensemble cast of the Hungarian film White God, a member of which showed up (in a literal black tie) for the premiere.
2. Yes, it’s home to some high fashion…
For the guys, walking the famous red carpet requires black tie. But for the ladies, it’s a chance to show off some designer gowns, like these ones on Grace of Monaco stars Paz Vega (in Elie Saab Couture) and Nicole Kidman (in Armani Privé).
3. …But some wacky fashion as well.
Russian TV personality Elena Lenina flaunted some unique sartorial choices at the premiere of Mr. Turner.
4. It’s used to promote movies that aren’t in the festival and that might not exist yet.
While James Franco complained on Instagram about the planned sequel to Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, slated to be directed by Jonas Åkerlund and written by Trainspotting’s Irvine Welsh, the project was being touted with a billboard on the Croisette, the promenade in Cannes.
5. The festival’s not only for new films.
This year’s closing night screening was a 50th anniversary celebration of A Fistful of Dollars, while Quentin Tarantino held a press conference and presented a 20th anniversary screening of his Palme d’Or-winning Pulp Fiction.
7. …People literally fight to get into films that would have a tough time getting an audience elsewhere.
People pushed, shoved, and yelled, “Don’t you know who I am?” this year in hopes of making their way into a crowded first screening of Winter Sleep, a three-hour-and-sixteen-minute Turkish drama about a man, his wife, and his sister bickering in a remote hotel that ended up winning the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or.
8. And if you don’t have a ticket, you can always try your luck with a sign.
Hopefuls crowd the area outside the Palais des Festivals, the main building used for the festival, holding up signs pleading for extra tickets. Sometimes it works!
9. You’ll hear the name “Raoul” quite a few times.
Just as the lights go down for press screenings in the Debussy Theater in the Palais, someone usually howls “Raoul!” to appreciative applause. It’s an in-joke that’s lasted for what might be decades now, a reference to a journalist, years ago, who was trying to save a seat for his friend. When the movie was about to start and the guy hadn’t yet showed, he despairingly yelped his colleague’s name, starting a festival tradition.
10. Though it’s an old festival, it’s always up for some new tricks.
This year, the 83-year-old Jean-Luc Godard, one of the founders of the French New Wave and the director of Breathless, had a film in 3D — Goodbye to Language.
11. There are some crazy parties.
Lionsgate celebrated the Hunger Games franchise with an opulent soiree, much like the one Peta and Katniss attended in Catching Fire. Held at a Russian oligarch’s villa on Cap d’Antibes, guests wore Mockingjay pins and models stood around wearing Capitol-worthy avant-garde ensembles.
12. But people genuinely love going to movies.
No matter how late the night, everyone drags themselves out of bed for daily 8:30 a.m. screenings, and the films are all anyone talks about. When the prizes were announced, masses gathered outside the Palais to watch on screens.
13. And some of those people are stars themselves.
Jessica Chastain came to Cannes for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, but stayed on to watch some movies.
14. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful places to have a film festival.
Seriously, it’s the south of France. How can you go wrong?