Security guards at the airport, tickets by invitation only, long queues, black tuxedos, high heel shoes, cameras everywhere. The Cannes Film Festival is so mainstream, so clean, that one day someone might sweep the sand from its famous beaches in order to roll out the red carpet. With such fame and fortune, however, comes a responsibility that goes far beyond exhibition of films by established directors.
Cannes set up an organisation called Cinéfondation almost two decades ago, in 1998, with the purpose of fostering the creation of audacious and groundbreaking films from all corners of the planet. Pictured above are participants (or “residents”) of the initiative this year.
Three initiatives and a baby
Cinéfondation consists of three initiatives giving filmmakers from every corner of the world the opportunity to make or to show off their baby.
The first initiative, The Selection, is a platform for short films that have already been completed. A jury picks 15-20 innovative pieces, which then form part of the Festival’s Official Selection. These films are presented to the Cinéfondation and Shorts Jury which awards a prize to the best three at an official ceremony.
The second initiative is called The Residence. Each year 12 filmmakers are chosen to write the screenplay of their first or second feature over a four-and-a-half month period in Paris. Most of the filmmakers that are accepted at The Residence and want to develop a feature have participated in Cannes Festival before with a short movie. But not all of them. It is important that your film has not been presented at major international festivals. The full regulations and requirements for the second phase are explained here.
The Residence has welcomed more than 170 filmmakers from more than 50 countries throughout its existence. Recent highlights include Son of Saul (pictured below) by the Hungarian film director and screenwriter László Nemes. Nemes developed his scenario during his Residence in 2011. The film was awarded Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival as well as the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2016, and it is out in cinemas everywhere right now.
The third initiative is The Atelier, where filmmakers can arrange appointments with industry professionals during Cannes Film Festival. This enables them to complete the financing of their films. Fifteen filmmakers are granted a slot at The Atelier every year.
The lowdown this year
Brazilian filmmaker Gregorio Graziosi is part of The Residence. His first feature film, Obra, premiered at Toronto Film Festival in 2014. He is currently working on Tinnitus, which tells the story of a young woman with an obscure disease. Tinnitus is an invisible monster, or in other words, fear. The film is a bold project in which silence and sexual tension are intertwined. The main character lives in a bubble inside a conservative country which has now collapsed into an economic and moral crisis.
Graziosi described his experience in France as “excellent!”. “We have free time to enjoy the cultural life in Paris. The environment in the house [accommodation of The Residence] is very cool, people exchange experience and I can dedicate myself completely to my project.” The programme grants a 800-euro monthly pay, free-access to a large number of Paris cinemas and French lessons. Currently participating at the Festival, he and the other selected filmmakers have had meetings with industry people from other festivals too, such as Locarno Film Festival. “It is amazing what Cannes can offer. Brazilian cinema [scene] does not promote this level of integration.”
At least two films of The Atelier are innovative and taboo-breaking promises. The filmmakers are selected according to the quality of their project and that of their previous films, as well as on the state of progress of their finance plan. This is different from The Residence in which the films are on the first stages of pre-production and, because the ball is already rolling, they received less money. Graziosi, for instance, has got only 20% of the budget for his Tinnitus.
The Whole-Timers (Pooja Gurung, Bibhusan Basnet) will be shot in 12 weeks in Nepal. It is an account of the final three years of the civil war in Nepal (1996-2006) seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old Maoist guerrilla. During the Nepal Civil War (pictured below), the rebelling Maoist faction had a group of guerrillas whose sole duty was to document the war at all times in order to make propaganda documentaries for their party. The film will show naïve and highly impressionable men, women and children morphing into killing machines.
Gaya Gigi’s My Favourite Fabric will investigate a number of explosive prejudices. Gigi explains: “I come from a country with countless taboos. A country where we cannot talk about politics, religion or sex… especially as a woman. With this project, my wish is to provide an unique perspective on the position of women in the Middle East.” The film is a Syrian production set in Damascus, March 2011. Two young sisters face very different struggles of their own, and they both have to seek reconciliation with their families. One girl is promised to marry a Syrian immigrant from the US, while the other has just moved into a brothel.
So, how can I join?
Cinéfondation is taking place right now at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, and soon they will accept submissions for 2017. Just click here in order to find out whether your film is eligible and for more information about the selection process.