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24 May 2019

MA Film & Television Production’s First Trip to Cannes!

By Giuseppe Bruni | Categorised in Breaking News, Filmmaking Tips

As part of their course, the students on our new MA Film & Television Production visited this year’s Cannes Film Festival! In this blog, student rep Chris Spargo tells us what the crew got up to…

Arriving for a weekend at Cannes Film Festival, we understood that we were about to enter the hectic world of peak celebrity in the sunny south of France. Imagine our surprise as we stepped off the plane to find that it was raining! That’s okay – we didn’t want to go to the outdoor beach cinema anyway.

After collecting our festival badges and laying claim to the bedrooms at our 8-person Airbnb, we hit the festival to take our place in what would be the first of many queues. Fortunately, it was worth it, as the first film we saw (Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You) was a fantastic opener to our festival experience. This was also our introduction to the various conventions of Cannes; that all films are subtitled in both French and English, there are no trailers, and the audience applauds when the credits appear.

Over the course of the weekend we slowly realised that despite our prior expectations, it was in fact eminently possible to get into premiere screenings in the 2,300-seat Grand Theatre Lumiere; either by showing up at the ticket office at just the right time or by joining the last-minute access queue. Members of our group managed to see the glitzy world premieres of films by Gaspar Noé and Asif Kapadia, among others. The Grand Theatre audience’s applauding each individual studio logo at the start of the film was particularly amusing.

At Cannes, turning a negative into a positive is an invaluable skill to have. We learned this the hard way when a two-hour queue for Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse ended with us being turned away from the packed screening, as we had all known deep down that it likely would. Despite this, the time that we spent together in that queue, devising increasingly elaborate ways to entertain ourselves and keep out of the drizzling rain, was actually one of the highlights of the trip.

We also found time to wander around the vast Marché du Film, where sales agents come from all over the world to woo financiers and distributors. It was an enlightening look behind the scenes at the business side of the film industry, and some of us even got talking with a producer and attended a market screening in one of the smaller theatres. This was a valuable experience and gave us insight into a part of the industry that none of us had previously seen.

Although we were only in Cannes for a few days, it’s amazing how quickly you grow accustomed to the routine of wading through a crowd of unaccredited tourists on La Croisette and being welcomed into the most prestigious film festival in the world. Moreover, it is now a bizarre and alien concept for us to watch a film that is not bookended by a 90-minute queue and a round of applause. We are already looking into other film festivals and crossing our fingers for slightly better weather at the next one.


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