Easily the highest quality film festival this blogger has ever attended, the 70th Festival de Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner (SFC or The Corner) was class personified - all the way down to its logo on Palais toilet paper. Beginning with no cost submission to both La Cinéfondation (student film school) and Courts Métrages (short film) en Compétition, I at first declined the ninety Euro Cannes Court Métrage SFC fee. Later in the user friendly online submission process, I decided to pay and submit for SFC with a commitment to attend if selected. This proved to be the best money I had spent up to that half way point of this meteorically rising year of learning how to market short films.
With “Darkroom” being quickly admitted into The Corner, Festival email communication became world class. Once selected, Cannes kept me informed of the many opportunities afforded SFC attendees. So well supplied with information during that three month preparation period, I never felt the need to mail, phone, text, facebook, or use any other method of communication. This caused communication costs to be a big zero!
5/17/17 As Cannes, France is a long way from Rancho Cucamonga, CA this author made a few stops along the way. Flying in surprisingly roomy seats on United Airlines to Newark, NJ’s Liberty Airport, I then took the comfortable, inexpensive Newark Airport Express bus to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. There I caught New York City’s inexpensive MTA subway #4 train to the Bronx home of old friend (and former student) Ajene D. Washington.
5/18/17 On the night of NYC arrival, my attending the New Federal Theatre (NFT) 2017 Playwriting Workshop Presentation allowed me to witness Justine Hall’s amazing work in progress. “Bitches I’m Back” was expertly directed by Mary Hodges [both pictured above]. As it served as an inspiring prelude to the short films of Cannes 2017, I am now in negotiations to create an https://Entertainer.Academy produced short film of “Bitches...”. Planning to have it finished in time to submit to the 71st Festival de Cannes for, if not outright Official Selection, at least we hope to make the presentation of its Official Worldwide Release and Professional Screening there in the south of France.
An enjoyable after show 42nd Avenue restaurant meal followed with NFT Producing Director Woodie King, Jr. himself, NFT Executive Director Patricia White, NFT Workshop Coordinator Washington and African American Drama Company “High John de Conqueror - the musical” composer Selaelo Maredi, who was in Town from South Africa.
5/19/17 The next day I witnessed “The Nostalgia Inn” (NI) New York City Debut at Brooklyn’s 5th annual Bad Film Fest. Directors Shawn Wickens & Starr Kendall [pictured left with phil] served as wonderful hosts to screenings of the short films which shared NI’s block: “Autumn Bluffs”, “Death Wish”, “Another Crop Circle Prophecy Fulfilled”, “Time Travel Bites” and “Still Shaving After All These Beers”
5/20/17 During my third evening in New York, I witnessed the “Oops!” NYC Debut along with viewing the eclectic short films sharing its block which included: “Count Us In”, “Midnight Confession” “My Ass Is Bleeding 2", “Scumbags from Outer Space”, “Nomophobia”, “Save”, “Popular Celestial Mechanics”, “The Magic Wandas ‘Crab Scuttle’”, “The Sun Will Rise” and “Kittens vs. Ball (vs. Metaphysics)”. While at Bad that night I also made a fantastic film maker connection with Michael Paul who is pictured above with Goivanna Kanu & Ajene D. Washington.
5/21/17 My second pre-Cannes option was this day’s Saigon Underground Festival World Premiere of “Darkroom”. As I could not be in two places at once, sadly I missed this event.
5/22/17 Flying over seas from NYC’s JFK airport to Paris in Norwegian Airline’s aptly named Boeing 787 Dreamliner, this day marked the Official “Darkroom” Worldwide Release.
5/23/17 Upon landing at the Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport, I was efficiently passed through French customs. And now the language barrier had to be overcome, as I took the CDG Airport Shuttle to Terminal #2 where I purchased an inexpensive SNCF train ticket to Cannes. Then, while being entertained by young French rappers [pictured above], I quickly rode two Paris Métro subway trains to Gare de Lyon. There I boarded the modern, comfortably appointed with wi-fi and electrical outlets, SNCF train bound for Cannes and beyond. The advantage of my not yet purchasing a European electrical adapter (which I now know could have been inexpensively had at the CDG Terminal #1 Relay boutique) was that after my computer battery ran down, I just sat back for the remainder of the six (6) hour ride and enjoyed the French countryside views.
Debarking the SNCF train, I rode for ten ($10.00) dollars US my only taxi during the entire trip. In a flash it delivered me to my eleventh hour Hotels.com booked abode for the week. My first major best practice at Cannes was not staying in one of its very expensive hotels. Rather I slept in the quite nice and clean Balladins chain hotel, located in the Cannes suburb of Le Cannet. Taking a daily Carnot Boulevard 30 minute walk to and from la Festival Palais, I was happy to each day observe a little of this Cannes neighborhood. I would HIGHLY recommend that any frugal Festival de Cannes attendee stay at this particular hotel!
5/24/17 Festival de Cannes Short Film Corner registration the next morning was as smooth as it would be at any large conference. (By the way, I was amused that the top credentials at Cannes are colored Black.) When I say large, I mean huge! For example, I never made it to La Village International. I am informed that this is a whole event in and of itself.
This evening I had a relaxing time with new colleagues, Paris film makers Sonia Feltesse and Nyaika & Sophie Kamurasi. Their “Once in the West” short will be Reported upon in my upcoming Cannes SFC 2017 Films article. Together that night we attended my singular 2017 Officially Selected viewing, the troubling documentary “Makala” by Emmanuel Gras. This Black feature length film won the year’s Le Prix Nespresso de la Semaine de la Critique. The famous red carpet, star studded Feature Film Compétition is, of course, what so many people go to Cannes to witness.
But no, this writer was way too busy for five (5) days and nights taking in all that I could at SFC. Literarily located in a most accessible corner of the large Palais basement, The Corner is a short film marketer’s dream! Ran by a small, very efficient, hard working staff that included two young and attractive Black members, armed with this staff’s hospitable assistance, I soon found my way quite well.
Available in the SFC Digital Film Library are thousands of 2017 shorts which can be viewed on high quality HP computer screens by using one’s Registration Code. Although the submission and fee payment of one film maker with whom I shot did have our Short rejected by SFC (accompanied by a fee refund), films selected for Corner participation are not Cannes Official Selections. In fact, I heard several short film marketers state that they conclude that when a film maker states in their literature “Short Film Corner World Premiere”, then said film maker is proving that they do not know what they are doing. Therefore, since it was at The Corner opening that our film became available to the Industry, I call “Darkroom’s” Corner participation its Official Worldwide Release. As stated above, our Short’s World Premiere was the day before in Vietnam.
With only nine (9) 2017 Courts Métrages (short) en Compétition films being Officially Selected, sadly enough, none of those films were Black. As well, the fifteen (15) 2017 La Cinéfondation (student film school) competition Official Selections included only one Black film - “Sew The Winter To My Skin” by South Africa’s Jahmil X. T. Qubeka - pictured left. But even considering this reality, I continue to find that the entertainment Industry is impressed when told of my attending and having a film take part in the 70th Festival de Cannes. Even though only through SFC.
I personally believe one of the reasons that reaction comes is because (and I am very happy to Report) in the Cannes sea of White people, SFC proved to have a fair number of Black film makers in attendance. In fact, I found it easy to meet and connect with these many brothers and sisters. My greeting technique included simply hanging out in the physical Corner and asking Black folk who I did not know if they had a film in SFC. That question ALWAYS led to worthwhile Black film connections! Pictured herein, Mark Maina was the first Black film maker I met in this way. His “Neophobia” film will be noted in the upcoming Cannes SFC 2017 Films article.
Perhaps Cannes film festival’s very best practice was listing each short film’s email address and phone number in the Catalogue du Court. I am surprised how hard it can be to find some Black short films. Even when one possesses the printed program and has viewed the film’s screening at a particular film festival, it often is hard to follow up. Sometimes I think film festivals are unintentionally hiding their screened short films. Not Cannes, as you can see on the left, the photo of “Darkroom’s” page #218 in the SFC Catalogue. Of course, this fact may be true because SFC is more of a film market place than it is a film festival. My kind of gathering!
Once selected as a SFC participant, one’s film is offered a chance to pay another ninety Euros to have that film appear in an Industry aimed, professional screening in one of the Palais screening rooms. Since it can be a challenge securing an audience for a film maker’s lone screening, this blogger vows to follow several country’s lead and explore the establishment of a highly visible African American SFC screening showcase. If you are interested in having a short film viewed at Cannes in this manor let me know.
5/25/17 Being not much of an eater, I was non-plus about the famous French cuisine. However, those of us Americans who are hooked on our infamous food had all of our traditional restaurant chains available. Above I’m pictured with Jayne Marie Smith, director of the powerful “Thug”, at my favorite restaurant in the world. Steak & Shake is conveniently located right across the street from the Palais. I can’t even find a Steak & Shake meal in Southern California. So personally, once that S&S location was revealed to me, I fell into Phil food heaven at Cannes!
Utilizing primarily under fifty seat, top of the line film screening rooms, film makers spent time in The Corner encouraging attendees to go up to the third floor and view their professional screenings. If I had taken my normal approach of attempting to view all of the festival’s shorts, I would have spent my total time at Cannes Marché du Film, watching high quality movies in these little theaters. Pictured above is Jonas Dinal, Director/Star of one of the strongest short films I did see screened - “Plane”.
One fabulous but overwhelming aspect of Cannes is that there is so much of everything! Having attended the first of two pre-scheduled sessions on this second day of attendance, my Helping Hand small group session will be reported on in the upcoming Cannes SFC 2017 Live article. I’m so glade I quickly responded to the SFC email announcement of these offerings. They fill up very fast. Pictured above is short film distributor Marcin Luczaj, my scheduled Helping Hand mentor.
The Cannes film festival best practices shine with their extremely informative short film marketing workshops. To attend I had to simply note their announcement on the SFC electronic bill board and be there early enough to get a seat. Spending most of my days at these gatherings plus at SFC Industry giant Conversations, each session I attended will be reported upon in the up coming Cannes SFC 2017 Live blog.
5/26/17 This morning’s SFC Breakfast was the second of my two (2) pre-scheduled sessions. The piéce de résistance of my entire trip, in Cannes SFC 2017 Live I’ll soon briefly Report about this unbelievably well organized, information packed short film marketing session. Proposed for two months later, on August 2 at 1:30pm is a teaser of this valuable information when (as an expert) I chair a film distribution panel at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival Film Fest in Winston-Salem, NC. Two months after that, for this Columbus Day’s (10/9/17) Short Film Marketing workshop at Rancho Cucamonga, CA’s 2nd annual Inland Empire Film Festival (IEFF), I will give out names, specialities, contact information, etc., as well as Report on “Darkroom’s” successful use of this information. My intense, hands-on session is at no-cost to marketing personnel of 2017 IEFF and BUFF screening plus SFS and AAFC submitted films. The cost to all others is only forty ($40.00) dollars. Limited seating for that 2:00pm presentation can be requested by leaving a voice message at 1-213-437-6834. A confirmation call will be returned directly. Pictured are film makers Enricov Acciani “De Horrore Vacui” and Paul Pryce “Come Out Come Out” directly following their attendance at the Friday 2017 SFC Breakfast.
In addition to both cherished educational sessions observed during that afternoon (which of course will be reported upon in Live), on this evening I was blessed to attend the Creative Minds showcase. Inside of the upcoming Cannes SFC 2017 Films blog, you will hear all about Rob Ford’s [pictured] intriguing grass roots event that included a wealth of Black film screenings at the Olympia Cinema.
5/27/17 Not having time to take advantage of the hours of SFC Library viewing that I reserved for this day, I instead became the subject of an extensive interview aimed at youth and their emotions. I’m striving to gain for this Blog a clipping of the Romanian Psychologist Romona Andrel’s work therein. Perhaps the most heart felt human connection I made at Cannes, we’re pictured above with his colleague and cinematographer.
5/28/17 With trains bound for Paris being all sold out, I was lucky to have to spend one more day in Cannes than planned. This allowed me time to visit the great public beach, as well as witness the Closing Ceremony fireworks right out the window of my little hotel room.
5/29/17 The next morning I even had time to mail home from the Le Cannet La Poste the wealth of valuable but heavy papers included in SFC Registration. Then after lounging at a local taverne [pictured left], I leisurely rode the local Palm Bus #1 from my hotel to the Cannes train station. I could have daily road that same public bus to the Palais for cheep, Cheep, CHEEP.
5/30/17 Taking the over night SNCF local train to Paris Gare d’Austerlitz station, the next morning I strolled over la river Seine at Pont Charles de Gaulle to Gare de Lyon station in order to take the Paris Métro train back to CDG airport. Thereafter, I had no time to play tourist as I remained in my Best Western Paris CDG Airport hotel [pictured left] composing the Rules & Terms for our new Black Underground FilmFest. BUFF is available during the rest of June 2017 for no cost short film submissions at http://BlackUndergroundFilmFest.com. I guess I will just have to spend some Paris time when I return to France. Hopefully soon.
5/31/17 Back on familiar soil again, even the JFK Airport USA customs was pretty smooth sailing. As I had time before my very early morning return to California flight, I saved a fair amount of money by taking AirTrain JFK to the E Train MTA subway to ride the Newark Airport Express bus. I arrived in New Jersey in ample time to catch my Newark Airport United Airlines flight to Los Angeles.
6/1/17 I utilized, for my first time ever, the most efficient and inexpensive LA Flyaway shuttle bus to catch my familiar Metrolink commuter train home. I even almost got to Rancho Cucamonga in time for my granddaughter Aliah’s Kindergarten Graduation - pictured left.
In conclusion, although large, the logistics of attending the 70th Festival de Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner were all quite manageable. Further, I was elated to be able to keep costs down for this very extensive trip. You can do it too. And boy is it worth it!!!
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In addition to the coming two (2) Cannes SFC Blog entries, you’ll later be informed of PhilE’s July Black Film Festival Reports publishings about the Cayman Islands International Film Festival