Family of Photographers Capture Cannes Film Festival For Six Decades

Posted by David Ozanich — 4 May 2011

cannes1.jpgBrigitte Bardot on the beach in Cannes, 1955.

The 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival begins in France on May 11th. The Traverso family has been photographing the event since the beginning. Now three generations of Traversos have selected their best photos and combined them into the new book "Cannes Cinema: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Film Festival".

Auguste Traverso founed a photography firm in Cannes in 1919. He was there when the first festival in 1939 was abruptly called off because of the start of World War II. Then, in 1946, his son Henri began photographing the festival when it started up again. Today, his son Gilles continues the family tradition.

The Guardian details some of the history:

As we fought our way through the tourists immortalising one another on their mobile phones, Gilles scoffed at the scrum of non-professionals. "It was different in my father's time. Elizabeth Taylor used to walk on her own, and was happy to be photographed with American visitors. Before she became the princess, Grace Kelly posed in the port, then invited my father to take an aperitif with her. In 1955 he asked Brigitte Bardot to run on the beach so he could show how her body was in motion; you can see in the photograph that a few others followed, but they kept their distance." By 1967, when Henri photographed Bardot encircled by gendarmes and bombarded by flashes, the star herself had literally been eclipsed by those who were gazing at her through their incendiary lenses: you can identify her only by fixing on a cascade of blond hair at the point where the sight lines of all those competing cameras converge.


"Recently I was photographing Milla Jovovich in one of the hotels over there," said Gilles. "I wanted to make a shot on the beach, but we couldn't cross the road. The moment people recognised her, it was madness. They have no respect, they want to touch; so finally we ran for cover. And even with the professionals, it is exhausting: they overdo it because digital photography is so easy - you take a thousand pictures and hope one will be OK. I began with a Rolleiflex camera, and after I clicked 12 times I had to change the film. That made me economise, and plan what I was doing."

See more of the Traverso photos here and here.

cannes2.jpgElizabeth Taylor

cannes3.jpgAndy Warhol with the singer Nico beside him.

cannes4.jpgThe stars of "Taxi Driver" - Jodie Foster, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel in 1976. The film won the top prize, the Palmes D'Or, that year.

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