The official timeline of the Cannes Film Festival makes it clear that the glitzy celebration of cinema began in 1946. So why was TIME reporting in July of 1939 that the festival would take place that autumn?
The plans were even concrete enough to promise readers an exact set of dates:
For six years the world's fair of the cinema world has been the International Film Festival at Venice. In the past this annual, late-summer gathering to pick the world's best films has chosen such universally acclaimed cinemas as Man of Aran, Anna Karenina, Mayerling, La Kermesse Héroïque. But two years ago B. Mussolini began to take a personal, political interest in the cinema business, and last year cinemindustries not bedded in the Rome-Berlin axis began to feel its centrifugal force. The No. 1 prize, the Mussolini Cup, went jointly to Nazi Leni Riefenstahl's 1936 Olympic Games film (four hours running time) and to Vittorio Mussolini's Luciano Serra, Pilota, an ecstatic drama of Italian wings over Ethiopia. Walt Disney's world favorite, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was favored with a special Hors Concours (out of competition) Medal.
Last week France, Great Britain and the U. S. decided to let Venice be bygones, were reported getting together on a new international film festival to be held this year at Cannes , September 3-17.
The September 1939 film festival, of course, never happened — and, based on the reasons for the film festival's establishment, it's not hard to guess why. The coming of World War II derailed all plans to launch a rival to the Venice film festival, and it wasn't until after the peace came that the festival in Cannes finally took place. As these photos show, the bash was, appropriately, a happy occasion.