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22 designs for Cannes and international releases

Since its inception in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has been highly influential in the world of cinema, heralding European and international releases for their artistic and conceptual qualities. The posters announcing each year’s event have become almost as highly anticipated as the list of nominated films, and they provide a fascinating look back into the shifting art movements and technological progress of each era.

This collection also includes designs for the San Sebastian film festival and international releases.

136. Cannes / Festival du Film. 1947.
By Jean-Luc
24 1/2 x 39 1/4 in./62 x 99.8 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

For another 1947 Cannes Film Festival poster, Jean-Luc created this glitzy vision of cinematic wonder, wherein the coastal town of Cannes is projected onto a film camera. In 1947, there was not just one top winner, but five Grand Prix awards in various categories: cartoon, adventure and crime films, psychological and love films, social films, and musicals.

138. Cannes / Festival du Film. 1951.
By Paul Colin (1892-1986)
24 3/4 x 39 in./62.8 x 99 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

This very rare Colin poster for the 4th Cannes Film Festival has stylized trees bursting up through the Côte d’Azur night; a spool of film, caught in the branches, frees itself just enough to beckon us to join in.

140. Cannes / 6eme Festival International du Film. 1953.
By Jean-Luc
24 1/4 x 39 1/4 in./61.7 x 99.5 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Reality and the alternate world of film collide in this collage-style design announcing the 6th annual Cannes Film Festival. That year’s Grand Prix winner was “The Wages of Fear” by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

141. Cannes / VII Festival International du Film. 1954.
By Michèle Piva (1931-2013)
24 x 39 in./61 x 99 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

Piva gives us a meta movie moment: against the Mediterranean Sea, a camera sets its sight on the Palais du Festival, which is reflected back to us with its myriad flags. Without a frame of film or an excess of frill, Piva’s design focuses on the monumental nature of an event well on its way to becoming an institution.

144. San Sebastian. 1953.
By Alfredo Arjona
13 x 18 3/4 in./33 x 47.6 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

This poster announces the inaugural edition of the San Sebastián International Film Festival. To this day, it is held in the Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastián in the Basque Country. Though lesser known than the Cannes Film Festival, it’s no less impactful on the world of film: Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” premiered here, and it was the first festival attended by Roman Polanski. Here, Arjona rolls out the film reel with ocean views to lure in film lovers.

147. Norman Film Co.: Bill Pickett / Bull-Dogger. 1923.
27 1/8 x 40 3/4 in./69.2 x 103.8 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Bill Pickett was an amazing person: an authentic Black American cowboy whose specialty was “bulldogging”—jumping from a horse onto a running steer and forcing it to the ground by biting the tender part of its lip (a technique he learned from watching his dog herd cattle). Working at the famous Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Circus in Oklahoma, he gave Will Rogers and Tom Mix early breaks by hiring them as his rodeo assistants. For this film, made when Pickett was 61, the Norman Film Co. simply added a thin plot to a lot of documentary footage of Pickett in action. He continued working into his seventies, was inducted into the Black Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971, and was honored with a statue unveiled in Fort Worth in 1987. Although there is at least one other poster for this film (see PAI-XVI, 78), this engaging portrait, finely painted in rich, warm colors, suggests why Pickett was nicknamed “The Dusky Demon.”

149. Tell it to Sweeney. 1931.
24 1/2 x 34 3/8 in./62.2 x 87.3 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

“Tell it to Sweeney” was a 1927 American comedy silent film directed by Gregory la Cava and starring Chester Conklin and George Bancroft. For its Russian debut as “Chrysanthemum” a few years later, this anonymous artist created a surreal Constructivist design of the two men locked in a locomotive battle with a runaway train. The film was sponsored by Soyuzkino, a state agency for cinematography in the USSR; the poster was produced in partnership with the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev.

152. Parisiskor. 1929.
26 3/4 x 39 3/8 in./67.8 x 100 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

Known alternatively as “Parisiennes” or “The Doctor’s Women,” this German-Swedish silent film was directed by Gustaf Molander and set in Paris, where two families living in the same house have the same surname, leading to some confusion and emotional dramas. We’re not sure where the cabaret star fits in to this narrative, but she sure gives the poster some alluring flair.

153. Butterfly. ca. 1939.
27 1/4 x 39 1/4 in./69 x 90.7 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

This elaborate Japanese-inspired design is for the Swedish release of “Il sogno di Butterfly” (The Dream of Butterfly), a 1939 film from Carmine Gallone. The operetta-style movie follows opera diva Rosa Belloni, who stars in a production of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.” As her personal life begins to mirror that of her stage role, drama unfolds, including the return of her estranged lover.

154. Zouzou. ca. 1934.
23 1/4 x 30 3/4 in./59 x 78 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

This French film chronicles the lives of orphans Zou-Zou and Jean—played by Josephine Baker and Jean Gabin—who were paired up as twins in a traveling circus despite the fact that she is dark and he is light. As they grow older, her feelings for him take on a romantic connotation while he falls in love with her friend Claire. Through this lovelorn drama, Zou-Zou eventually becomes a star performer in her own right. This poster advertises a screening of the short film “En Avant la Musique” with Christiane Delyne before the main event.

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