What happens in a 10-day whirlwind of red carpets and premieres will likely drive film conversation for the next 12 months. The festival has launched the careers of some of Hollywood's most prominent filmmakers
(Quentin Tarantino, for example, premiered Pulp Fiction there in 1994; before Sex, Lies and Videotapes
won the Palme d'Or in 1989, Steven Soderbergh was a novice no-name director); the exclusive who's who guest list, combined with the glamour of early summer on France's Cote d'Azur, gives it an allure beyond the scrappy (and snowy cold) indie vibe at Sundance. And then, as Vox's Alissa Wilkinson lays out in this very helpful explainer
, there's the commercial aspect. The festival is home to the Marché du Film, quite literally a film market, where distributors come to purchase rights to movies. If you're looking for a way for wide, global audiences to see your small foreign film (as in the case of 2011 Oscar-winner The Artist
), this is the place to be.