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Lensman recalls first Cannes festival

Yves Manciet was just 21 when he was one of only six photographers who attended the first edition of the Cannes film festival in 1946. He is the only one still alive today. 

26 April 2017

The Bordeaux-born 92-year-old is best known for his beautiful black and white pictures of stars from that time, such as Brigitte Bardot, Orson Welles, Jane Birkin, Pablo Picasso, Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and many others. He recalls those heady days of ready access to the stars with fondness.
“They were easier, glamorous years”, he told The Connexion. “The camera was the ticket to get onto the red carpet, unlike the accreditation process that they have today. We had to be less than a metre from the subject to get a good picture.”

When he left the army in January 1946, he was already passionate about photography. He presented some of his work to a newspaper in Nice, L’Espoir, and the editor-in-chief offered him a job, which allowed him to attend the inaugural Cannes film festival in September.

“There were only six of us photographers there, so it was quite easy to take pictures, we had space. We needed to be very close to the subject to take a good picture, because at that time, cameras weren’t as developed as they are today,” he said, “but the stars were all ready and happy to pose for the cameras.”
In 1949, he headed to Paris and by 1952 was working at the Magnum photography agency and in different newspapers and magazines such as Life, which meant he could no longer attend Cannes. He also lived and worked in Brazil for a couple of years.

When he returned to France, he went deeper into the world of cinema, becoming a set photographer on 23 films. It was during this time that he met Brigitte Bardot.
“She wasn’t even 18 yet!” he said. To this day she remains his favourite star, and they still have a solid friendship.

Today, Mr Manciet spends his time working on his archives: he develops his pictures, sells them or exhibits them.
He has recently published two books, one of which is about the history of Bergerac, where he now lives. Another, Portrait of the stars, contains shots of Jean Cocteau, Michèle Morgan, Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand among others.

Both books are published by Les Dossiers d’Aquitaine.

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