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Home > About the Festival > Festival History

Festival History : A brief history of the Palme d'Or

Until 1954, the Jury of the Festival de Cannes awarded a "Grand Prix of the International Film Festival" to Best Director. Winners of this Grand Prix would then be presented with a work by a contemporary artist in vogue.

At the end of 1954, upon the initiative of Robert Favre Le Bret, then Delegate General, the Festival's Board of Directors invited several jewellers to submit designs for a palme, in tribute to the coat of arms of the City of Cannes.

The original design which was finally selected was that of the renowned jewellery creator Lucienne Lazon. A trophy was then elaborated based on his design, with the bevelled lower extremity of the stalk forming a heart, and the pedestal a sculpture in terracotta by the celebrated artist Sébastien.

In 1955, the first Palme d'Or in the history of the Festival was awarded to Delbert Mann for his film Marty.

From 1964 to 1974, the Festival temporarily resumed awarding a Grand Prix.

In 1975, the Palme d’Or was reintroduced and became the enduring symbol of the Cannes Film Festival, awarded each and every year since to the director of the Best Feature Film of the Official Competition. It is presented in a case of pure red morocco leather, lined with white suede.

At the beginning of the 80s, the rounded shape of the pedestal, bearing the Palme, gradually transformed to become pyramidal in 1984.

In 1992, Thierry de Bourqueney redesigned the Palme and its pedestal in hand-cut crystal.

In 1997, the Palme was modernised by Caroline Scheufele, President of the celebrated Swiss firm Chopard Jewellers, which now supplies the trophy every year. The Palme, made of 24-carat gold, is hand cast into a wax mould, then attached to a cushion of a single piece of cut crystal. It is today presented in a case of blue morocco leather.

Ever since its creation, the Palme d’Or has been awarded only once to a woman: New Zealand's Jane Campion, for The Piano Lesson in 1993.

On the occasion of the Festival's 50th anniversary in 1997, a "Palme of Palmes" was awarded to Ingmar Bergman, presented in his absence to his daughter, Linn Ulmann, in the presence of twenty-eight other Palme d’Or winners.

As of today, only five directors belong to the much-envied circle of "double Palmes": Francis Coppola, Shoei Imamura, Bille August, Emir Kusturica and the Dardenne brothers.

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