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Cannes: The Cinéfondation

Shivajee ChandrabhushanAs Cannes winds down, award dinners wind up. Last night it was time once again to tramp on over the the Grand Salon of the Carlton Hotel to celebrate more winners. This dinner was for all the participants of the many programs of the festival's Cinéfondation, the festival's arm for nurturing new talent. One of the newest programs is the Atelier, started in 2005. Each year fifteen projects are selected and the filmmakers are invited to Cannes to take part in meetings with producers, distributors, programmers and the like. The aim is to get real support going for these films.

Some of the participants this year include Marco van Geffen, whose film project,  In Your Name, is the second part of a trilogy (the first part, Among Us, is already completed). The project won the Arte Prize for best project in the Atelier. Marco told me that it is a real honor and great support for the project. They hope that with this kind of support they can begin shooting in October 2013.

At dinner I met another Atelier filmmaker. Shivajee Chandrabhusham was in Cannes with his project The Untold Tale, an Indian film that takes place around the world over a span of 60 years, so international funding is a must. The Atelier has been a great experience for him, yet he feels a lot of responsibility being in the program: this is serious stuff. Chandrabhusham and his producer/wife, Triparna Banerjee, have already identified a french producer at the Atelier, which is very helpful. In fact, the mantra at our table, which included some French funders, was "everyone should have a French producer!"

One of those funders was Jacqueline Ada, with CNC (Centre national du cinéma). While the CNC does many things for cinema in and outside of France, Jacqueline's area is foreign film support, so her work is crucial to most of the Cinéfondation participants, including filmmakers in the festival's Residence program, such as Simon Paetau. Paetau, whose short film, Mila Caos, premiered in New Directors/New Films two years ago, is one of six filmmakers spending 5 months at the Cinéfondation's Residence in Paris. The object is to give these filmmakers a dedicated space to work on writing their scripts - first or second features.

Jéro Yun is a South Korean filmmaker at the Residence working on two scripts: Secret de mon père Nord Coréen and Red House.They are not required to finish, and while they are there Cinéfondation director Georges Goldenstern brings in loads of filmmakers, film programmers, and other film professionals to talk to them. And they also have time to talk to each other; peers mentoring peers can work wonders. During their residencies Goldenstern brings the filmmakers to festivals and their markets, so that they can pitch their stories. This group came to Cannes, where they presented their projects at the CNC pavilion.

The Cinéfondation also presents four programs of short films during the Cannes festival, from film school students around the world. Yesterday the winners were announced by the Cinéfondation and short film jury, headed by one half of the highly regarded Belgian filmmaking team, Jean-Pierre Dardenne. First prize of €15,000 went to Taisia Igumentseva of VGIK film school in Russia, for her film The Road To. Second Prize (and €11,250) went to Abigail by NYU student Matthew James Reilly, and Cuban EICTV student Miguel Angel Moulet won €7,500 for The Hosts. As an added bonus, the first prize winner's first feature film is guaranteed a slot in some section of the Cannes festival. Not too shabby.

In short, keep your eye on the Cinéfondation: this is where they grow talent in Cannes.

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