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Encounters with MetFilm Alumni at Cannes 2023

By Jonny Persey

25 May 2023

MetFilm Director Jonny Persey looks back on a busy week at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with students and graduates engaged in business at all stages in the life cycle of film and television production.

One of the things that professionals in the film industry love about being in Cannes is the inevitability of meeting people you know as you wander between meetings on the Croisette.

This year, whilst the rain wetted the beaches, it did nothing to dampen that spirit, and I was struck by how the activities of the MetFilm School alumni I encountered join the dots in the story of film production. Whether they were doing business in the Marché du Film, pitching new projects or completed films, winning accolades or production funding, the MetFilm community was out in full force.

Here are a few highlights…

Premiering & in the Press

First of all, congratulations are due to the team of MetFilm School graduates behind the films Dead Funny and Lemonade Stand-Off, which made the 2022 and 2023 ‘Top 8’ at the Straight 8 Competition respectively, and were both screened at this year’s Cannes. Lemonade Stand-Off will also be screened to a sell-out audience as part of the competition’s Top 25 this Saturday 27 May, at London’s National Film Theatre. You can enter Straight 8 2024 here.

And while BA Practical Filmmaking graduate Assaf Machnes was not at Cannes, he was certainly in the festival press. His debut feature, Available Now, tells the story of a friendship forged in Berlin (where Assaf now teaches at MetFilm School), between a Palestinian taxi driver and a young Israeli, and was one of five films that won funding from the Israel Film Fund.

From our graduates to our students, I caught up with BA Practical Filmmaking student Omri Dayan in the Members’ Club, a bustling beach event space where producers and executives meet throughout the festival to enjoy events and film parties. Omri is working for the World Trailer Awards, filming and editing daily clips of the events at the Club – such as this one – and handling tech for events throughout the festival.

BA Practical Filmmaking student Omri Dayan at Cannes Film Festival

Our Graduates in the Film Market

Wandering around the Marché du Film, one of the largest film markets in the world, I found the Ouranos Films stand with founder, CEO, and MetFilm School graduate JP. A., proudly pitching his slate of films to a steady line of buyers looking for products for their worldwide territories.

Along the harbour, I also ran into Dankuro Shinma, cinematographer, producer, and cinematography graduate. Dankuro is part of the team behind last year’s romantic war drama Firebird, as well as the 2021 indie comedy, Iceland is Best. He runs the production company No Reservations Entertainment alongside fellow graduate, William Randall-Coath, and is pictured below with Jane Foster, the director of Day 6 – the feature Dankuro is in Cannes with to look for production partners.

L: JP. A., founder of Ouranos Films | R: MA Cinematography graduate Dankuro Shinma

Walking outside the Palais des Festivals, I then bumped into Producer Davide Marangoni and his Director Sebastien Blanc (both BA Practical Filmmaking graduates). Their film, Cerebrum, came out on Tubi in the US last week, with other international roll-outs to be announced soon. They’re in Cannes seeking partners on their next films…

And from production partners to distribution deals, I also ran into Jeffrey Louis Sallkild, MA Screenwriting graduate-turned-producer. Jeffrey is in his town for his first Cannes, seeking distribution for the feature film Alba Rosa, produced during the BA Practical Filmmaking programme. See him below with MA Screenwriting tutor Sheridan Humphreys in the BFI’s UK Film Pavilion on the Croisette.

L: Poster for Cerebrum | R: Jeffrey Louis Sallkild with MA tutor Sheridan Humphreys

I arranged a meeting with Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope Film Distribution, who has produced filmmaking graduate Callum Burn’s last three feature films. Two of Callum’s new features adorned the walls of the Kaleidoscope office in Cannes – Battle Over Britain, shot last year for release later this year, and Last Days of Dunkirk, to be shot later this year!

Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope Film Distribution, stands against BA Graduate Callum Burn’s films

The wider MetFilm Community

Like many of their fellow graduates, Jenny Bohnhoff and Ella Pham, now working at MetFilm Sales, were at Cannes peddling a slate of films, including documentary Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer. MetFilm Sales acquired the rights to Thomas Van Steinaecker’s feature documentary earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, and key sales made in Cannes were announced by Screen International last weekend.

L: MetFilm Sales’ Jenny Bohnhoff and Ella Pham at Cannes | R: Poster for the upcoming documentary Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer

And finally, on the same night our graduates were being celebrated at the Straight 8 competition, just a short walk down the Croisette, Garden Studios – home to MetFilm School’s second London campus, was winning Studio of the Year at Screen International’s Global Production Awards. At this event, Garden Studios was praised for its commitment to training and growing talent, to sustainability, and to welcoming underrepresented people. You can learn more about Garden Studios here.

Bristling with pride, the MetFilm team returns to London knowing that these brief encounters represent just a fraction of our community’s involvement in Cannes. I look forward to hearing the continuation of these – and other – stories in upcoming festivals and markets worldwide.

  • You can watch Dead Funny the 2022 ‘Top 8’ film created by a team of MetFilm School Graduates for Straight 8 here!
  • Explore MetFilm School London at our upcoming BA Open Day, Saturday 10 June – Book Now!

Hero image: the cast and crew of Lemonade Stand-Off at Cannes!