Among the main competition and the other official sections of Cannes (Un Certain Regard, Directors Fortnight, Critics Week), there are many outlets for emerging filmmakers. Every year, more and more opportunities open up on the Croisette for these young artists.
Since 2010 the Directors Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) has initiated a cultural program to provide access to all areas of filmmaking and appreciation for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Called The Fortnight in La Bocca (a neighborhood on the outskirts of Cannes), filmmaking workshops are held from October through April. Kids work with professionals to make short films which will be presented in the Fortnight’s theater (the Theatre Croisette) during the Cannes film festival. The students also attend screenings, work in critical writing workshops and get to meet filmmakers at the festival. The finished short films are shown before the repeat screening of the Fortnight’s best film winner (this year that winner was Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent”).
The festival’s Cinéfondation, written about here in past years, is still going strong with various means of filmmaker support. The Residence of the Cinéfondation is a Parisian retreat where, twice a year a half dozen filmmakers are invited to live for four and a half months in order to work on scripts for first or second feature films. While they work in Paris, the residents of the spring section are taken to Cannes for the duration of the festival to get as much networking and film watching in as possible.
But there are also programs that take place specifically in Cannes. The Cinéfondation has its own competition of student films. The jury for the the Cinéfondation also juries the short film competition, and what an impressive group: This year the jury included French actress Cécile de France, Lebanese filmmaker Joana Hadjithomas, Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski and French director/screenwriter Rebecca Zlotowski (who has won a small slew of awards for her first two feature films, “Belle Épine” and “Grand Central”). Their jury president was non other than master Mauritanian director and producer Abderrahmane Sissako (“Bamako” and last year’s Academy Award foreign film nominee “Timbuktu”).
This year the winner was American filmmaker Pippa Bianco for her film “Share,” which was made at the AFI Directing Workshop for Women in Los Angeles. After these awards were given out, we strolled down the Croisette to the Martinez Hotel where an elegant black tie dinner was held for all of the Cinéfondation participants. There Pippa told me how honored she was to receive her prize from Mr. Sissako. All in all, a perfect moment.
At the dinner I also met two participants in the Cinéfondation’s Atelier. The Atelier project brings 15 directors to Cannes along with their producers and arranges high level meetings with possible financiers so their projects may get needed support. Kirsten Tan from Singapore is looking for financing for his film “Popeye,” and Görgy Kristóf of Hungary was in Cannes with his feature project, “Out.” Success for them is just around the corner.
In the Cannes market, outside of the official sections, filmmakers really mean business, and that includes students. The Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia presented a market screening of “Ovation for Oscar,” a short film commissioned by the school on the occasion of a huge Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the college’s museum. Directed by alum Ryan Curtis and produced by MFA candidate Tyler Reid, the film follows fashion and marketing student Sloane Mayberry as she works with the team organizing the exhibit.
After the screening, we spoke briefly - about the school, about filmmaking and about fashion. Sloane was dressed impeccably (she would be able to get on the red carpet, wearing a beautiful pair of heels!) and she talked about the excitement of working with de la Renta when she interned at the company. Ryan and Tyler discussed the supportive atmosphere of SCAD (as it is known) - Ryan was asked back to make the film after graduating, and the film was financed by the college (the entire crew seemed to be current or former students).
Other SCAD alumni made appearances on the Croisette: Wyatt Garfield, who graduated in 2007, was DP on the Critics’ Week selection “Mediterranea,” which was directed by Jonas Carpignano (who himself an alumnus of the Cinéfondation Residence). The short film “Too Cool for School,” written, directed and produced by a trie of SCAD alum also appeared in Critics’ Week. Yet another short film, “Southsouthwest” written, produced and directed by Madison Hamburg, made an appearance in the market’s Short Film Corner.
The Savannah College of Art and Design pulls no punches: Students get educated there, but the school seems to continue supporting them as they strive to make their way in their chosen fields. It’s good to know someone has your back.