​Lyon is famous for its praline brioche, its hidden passageways known as ‘traboules’, its famous puppet Guignol and its local football club Olympique Lyonnais. The city has a lot more to offer though. For instance, there is the Lumière Festival, an annual gathering devoted to films, which celebrates Lyon’s role as the birthplace of cinema.

Last updated date : 23/02/2023
From 14/10 to 23/10/2023 daily.
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A festival that cherishes the memory of cinema

The Lumière Festival was conceived of as a tribute. Also known as the Grand Lyon Film Festival, it was the first French festival dedicated to historical films. Initiated by Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Frémaux, and organised by the Institut Lumière and Greater Lyon, it is the essence of the city’s long cinema tradition. As any Lyonnais will tell you, it was in Lyon, and the Monplaisir neighbourhood to be precise, that the cinematograph was invented by the Lumière Brothers, Louis and Auguste. Lastly, the Lumière Festival is now also the city’s tribute to Bertrand Tavernier. This film-maker from Lyon, who passed away in 2021, was the president of the Institut Lumière from its creation in 1982, as well as the festival from its launch in 2009.

A festival for film buffs that is open to all

Every October since the festival’s creation, Lyon’s passion for cinema reaches fever pitch. In 2021, this gathering, which is now globally renowned, attracted 145,000 festival-goers. There is no Croisette, Oscars or red carpet, so what is its secret? It is without doubt the fresh perspective it brings to works of the past. You will find cult films, retrospectives, forgotten gems finally restored and tributes to major figures in cinema, as well as exhibitions, films screened to live music, masterclasses and the list goes on. The aim of the Lumière Festival is to make high-brow cinema accessible. Held throughout the Lyon urban area for nine days, it reaches out to all audiences, ranging from children in schools and hospitals to people in prison or on the fringes of society.

Where to see the Lumière Festival in Lyon?

The Lumière Festival reaches such a wide audience thanks in particular to its eclectic programme, which covers the entire city. Each year, the film festival comes to 46 locations in 21 towns in the Lyon metropolitan area, with around 400 screenings, including high-profile venues such as the Théâtre Comédie Odéon and the Auditorium de Lyon. Each edition begins with an opening evening at Halle Tony-Garnier, which also hosts the closing screening. For the 13th edition in 2021, for example, the film ‘The Cameraman’ by Buster Keaton and Edward Sedgwick was screened, with musical accompaniment by Vincent Delerm on piano. In the grounds of the Institut Lumière, there is also the Village du Festival Lumière, which becomes a gathering place for the public and guests. There you will find a large DVD market and a cinema book shop, as well as a restaurant and beer bar.

An inclusive and socially engaged festival

Promoting films from the past and paying tribute to major figures in cinema are socially engaged actions in themselves. Building on these actions, the Lumière Classics quality label was created to draw public attention to the finest recent restorations carried out by film archives, producers, distributors and studios from around the world. 
The Lumière Festival is more than this however. Each year, it helps students, refugees, school dropouts and people facing insecurity access the job market. Furthermore, from the outset, the festival established the series ‘Histoire permanente des femmes cinéastes’ (permanent history of women film-makers) to highlight often overlooked female pioneers in the world of cinema.

The Lumière Award, the pride of the festival

In Lyon, the cradle of cinema, the legacy of the Lumière Brothers is tangible. Each edition is of course marked by the Lumière Award, an award given during a ceremony attended by many artists and spectators in the main room of the Cité Internationale Convention Centre. It is given to an iconic figure in cinema for their life’s work and the list of winners is enough to make any film-lover drool. Clint Eastwood was the first to receive it. He was followed by Milos Forman, Gérard Depardieu, Ken Loach, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, Catherine Deneuve, Wong Kar-wai, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola, Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne, Jane Campion et Tim Burton.

Want to experience the festival for yourself? Make a note in your diary! The upcoming 14th edition will be held from Saturday the 14th to Sunday the 22nd of October 2023 in Lyon and its metropolitan area.

Useful tips

  • From 14/10 to 23/10/2023, daily.
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