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I am actually low key excited about telling you all about how you can enjoy Cannes Film Festival without a badge or accreditation. Wanna know why? Because there are actually a few ways it can be done!
Before attending the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, I thought that the only options available for the badge-less were to ‘soak up the atmosphere’ of the festival. You know, to try and get a good spot at the edge of the red carpet or spend all day nursing a €25 glass of wine at a fancy pants hotel bar in the hopes of spotting Sofia Coppola.
These activities are still fantastic ways of ‘experiencing’ Cannes Film Festival without a badge… But wouldn’t it just be the cherry on top of the cake to actually watch some films at one of the best film festivals in the world, too?
This list of suggestions is especially useful if you wanna travel with a buddy who won’t qualify for accreditation… Like I did! So no one has to miss out.
How to Watch Films at Cannes Without a Badge
1. You could try your luck at getting Cannes accreditation…
Cannes Film Festival can write ‘this is an industry-only event’ on its website as many times as it wants to create an air of superiority. They know as well as I do, it’s simply not true.
In actual fact, Cannes is quite involved in its local cinephile community. And not just during the festival but year-round. They offer 3,000 cinephile badges to local film fans and students every year. An extra 1,000 cinephile badges are given to film fans from the rest of France and the wider world. I was one of the lucky 1,000 in 2017! In 2018, they opened a ‘Three Days in Cannes’ pass for 18-28-year-old film lovers too.
I’ve written an entire post on how to apply for Cannes cinephile or Three Days in Cannes accreditation. Have a look and see if you’re eligible! You might be surprised.
2. Cannes Cinephile screenings in the ‘last-minute’ line
There are four cinemas at Cannes that cater purely to Cinephile badge holders. These are La Licorne, Le Raimu, Studio 13 and Alexandre III. To find out more about what selections and programmes they screen, read my post on how to watch films with a Cinephile badge here.
However, you can also watch films in all four cinemas! Three of the cinemas have a ‘non-priority’ or ‘last-minute access line’ which you can use if are without a badge or accreditation. They are completely free and you don’t need a ticket. Just show up early (no less than an hour before a screening) and hope there are seats left!
Even better, La Raimu doesn’t have a separate line for those without a badge. Cinephile badge holders and the badge-less just queue up in one line and it’s first come, first served.
3. Move to Cannes permanently
Yes, this is more of an unrealistic entry! Though if you’re currently in the middle of a ‘pros and cons’ list about moving to the South of France, you have another pro to add.
You know I said that Cannes Film Festival likes to involve the community? The city of Cannes offers three screenings of films competing for the Palme d’Or award the Monday after the festival ends for Cannes residents only. This is probably a cheeky way of saying ‘thank you for putting up with all the foreigners and disruption to your hometown for two weeks.’ But it’s a pretty nice thank you either way.
On the last Sunday morning of the festival, residents can head to Hotel de Ville (City Hall) with ID and either a lease, France Telecom or EDF bill to prove they live in Cannes.
4. Get free tickets for Critic’s Week
Critic’s Week is a programme of films within the Cannes Film Festival’s “Parallel Selection.” It runs alongside the “Official Selection” but screens slightly more obscure and lesser-known films. The good news is that you don’t need a badge to watch these films.
The Espace/Salle Miramar is where you’d go to catch all of these films, but you still need to grab a ticket even though they are free. Head to the ticket tent on the side street next to the Miramar Hotel at 35 rue Pasteur. However, having tickets does not guarantee your entry. People with badges are given priority over people without a badge so make sure you turn up at least one hour before.
Essentially, the golden rule of attending Cannes Film Festival without a badge is to show up really early everywhere.
5. Buy tickets for Director’s Fortnight
It is a similar deal for watching Critic’s Week films, except you have to buy these tickets.
The films in the Director’s Fortnight programme are screened at Théâtre Croisette/JW Marriott. The tickets are €8 full-price and half-price concessions are available. The ticket booth is to the left of the Malmaison in the forecourt. They have a sign with ‘Quinzaine’ meaning ‘Fortnight’ above the tent.
Again, show up early to secure a seat. A ticket (or badge) offers no guarantees to anyone at Cannes Film Festival without punctuality. You will need to be in the line labelled ‘Billets’ meaning ‘tickets.’
Top tip: Make sure you check the language of the subtitles! In the smaller cinemas, if a film is not in the French language then the subtitles might be in French. And if the film is in the French language, there might not be any subtitles at all. This is the case with a number of the Critic’s Week and Director’s Fortnight films so do keep it in mind.
6. Cinéma de la Plage/Cinema on the Beach
This is one of the easiest ways to watch a film at the Cannes Film Festival without a badge for sure.
Every evening of the festival, a film from the history of Cannes is screened on the beach right near the festival. It’s so easy to spot where it is. Films begin at 21:00 but I recommend heading there roughly an hour and a half early to secure a deck chair.
No tickets or badges are required. And if you don’t manage to grab a deck chair, then just bring a towel and sit right on the beach. It does get surprisingly cold but free blankets are available. I watched Saturday Night Fever (1977) on my second night at Cannes and it was one of the highlights of the festival for me.
7. Wear your best dress and hope for the best!
This is a good motto for life, now that I think about it.
I kid you not, you can actually watch one of the main festival screenings in either the Grand Théâtre Lumière or Salle/Théâtre Debussy after 18:00.
Like, it’s the most unlikely thing to happen to anyone without a badge at Cannes, but it’s not quite impossible. You would need to be dressed according to the Cannes Film Festival dress code, of course. And you would probably need to join the crowd of people begging for an invitation right outside the main theatres.
However, if you are lucky enough to be offered a ticket, you need either a blue or brown ticket. A blue ticket may as well be a golden ticket as you would be able to enter with no conditions. However, if you possess a brown ticket, you’re still in luck. You just need to be accompanied by a badge holder who will agree to say ‘they’re with me’ when the time comes. And hey presto! Just like that, you’re living the dream at the Cannes Film Festival!
And those are all the ways you can attend the Cannes Film Festival without a badge or accreditation! Would you consider attending Cannes without a badge? Let me know in the comments below!