In 1959, this unofficial market for film industry representatives, called the 'Festival de la Rue d'Antibes', boasted screenings to rival those taking place at the Festival de Cannes. In light of its undisputed success, Minister for Culture André Malraux and Robert Favre Le Bret decided to make the market an official part of the Cannes event.
On 1 March 1960, the Festival's Executive Board discussed the Marché aux Films that was developing alongside the Festival. With the Milan film market growing ever slicker and more professional, the Board decided to give producers and buyers the facilities they needed, creating a liaison bureau in the Palais des Festivals to foster ties between foreign producers and the customs authorities, with a representative appointed to the Palais to facilitate getting copies of films to the Marché.
Initially, the Marché developed organically, with a few dozen participants and a single projection room to seat around 20 guests, built from wood and canvas and located on the rooftop of the old Palais.
When the Marché du Film first launched, a few disgruntled voices made themselves heard, in particular film critics who accused the Festival of becoming a 'film fair' that prioritised the commercial aspects of the industry. Luckily, other journalists recognised the Marché for what it was: a central component of ensuring the Festival could grow.
As ever in Cannes, the press whipped up a media storm, and rumours ran rife.