Short Film Corner in Cannes

Short Film Corner in Cannes

So this was the Festival de Cannes.
Accredited for the Short Film Corner (SFC) with our short previously knows as ‘identità nascosta’.

A space dedicated to young directors from all over the world where they would be able to meet… yeah! – other young directors from all over the world. From those famous “40 buyers” that were supposed to be there, none was seen nor heard.


Buyers HIDEAWAY in the Short Film Corner at the Festival de Cannes

Hidden in an off-limits area within the SFC where the young directors from all over the world had no access (!!!), they had a kind of dropbox, where you could leave some material like business cards or flyers promoting your ‘baby’ (but NO CDs or DVDs please, they are so heavy to carry home!)  Once a day (what turned out to be every other day) these dropboxes where full and thus emptied (by who knows whom), and all us young directors from all over the world hoped that now buyers would contact us, so we could invite them to our screenings, have a word or two on the film, maybe get insights on how the market works, where to go from here and so forth. You know, the things that only insiders can tell you, if they care about you (which of course they do IF they understand what they are doing here at all) and that could have justified the trip around the world, most of the young directors from all over the world had to pay from their own young pockets. But that of course didn’t happen.

The truth is: these buyers (I haven’t seen them buy anything but lunches) DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO AVOID young directors from all over the world.
As for the DVDs: You weren’t supposed to take them home! You could have carried away only those that had impressed you most. That of course meant you actually had to watch the films. But poor folks, you were so busy running around the whole day trying to get free tickets for the evening shows and invitations to glam parties).

We moved on from SFC to the other parts of the Marketplace. First and second floor.
International producers and distributors (IPoD). And they were ALL sitting in their booths waiting.

A typical chat with the them there would evolve like this:
Young directors from all over the world (YDfaotW): How are you?
IPoD: Hi, nice to meet you!
YDfaotW: We have a movie to sell!
IPoD: Great! What is it about?
YDfaotW: (in our case) It’s about a girl being troubled by nightmares, and then she finds out they actually are memories…
IPoD: Wow! Tell me more..
YDfaotW: It’s a short and …
IPoD: Oh, I am sooo sorry for you people, really, sooo sorry…

After a few days like this, you are at a historical minimum of your motivation curve and since this coincides with your having NO CLUE WHATSOEVER of what is happening, why it is happening (and why not) and what you have come here for, you begin to question your own thinking: What did I think would happen here? Was I so stupid to believe somebody was actually interested in my/our movie?

We were sitting in one of the pizzerias near the croisette “enjoying” our dinner when the man on the next table started a ‘conversation’ with us. It wasn’t really a conversation, it was him telling us the ‘truth’. From the Neaderthal to Aristotles to Napoleon and last not least to our film (Being just a short, may I call it such at all?). I wouldn’t be able to repeat the words but the meaning was more or less this:

If I have to put some money at risk, I will do so if I am convinced it will produce more money for me. If I have to give money for a film, I must be sure it has a story people want to listen to. The story is everything. (we’re not talking about famous directors that draw millions into the cinemas just with their names). To common mortals as we all are – if you want to make movies – the story is everything. The short in your hand is not a product, (there is no market for shorts – and we can talk about that later, and probably I will) a short is not a product, it’s a business card. And you have already made it. So, what do you want to do next? There’s no point in another short, because you’ld be in the same position as now with just another business card.

Phil Soheili at the Cannes market place

“Cannes is not for shorts, it’s a market place!” – Marché du Film

When you come to the market (Once you are there everybody tells you: Cannes is not for shorts, it’s not about art, it is a marketplace!) you better bring a product. Bring a story I (he) can invest money in producing. Bring a SCRIPT! Nobody wants and nobody needs to see your short! Why? Because it’s understood that you can do it! Otherwise what would you be here for? AND – if your script (story) is as good as we want it, it’s no matter if you are a great director or a beginner, if you put on film what is written in the script, it will make money. You could film it with your cellphone! It’s okay you want to be an artist, but let it not get in your way and now let’s talk business..!

We were kind of shell shocked. None of this is really rocket science and when we said bye-bye to the ‘messenger’ the message moved on like a worm in the soil around my brain. We didn’t speak that whole evening. Then I just relaxed into the message. I have scripts on my hard drives. 3 or 4. Good stories, great drama. I wanted to be a director/dp (that european “auteur”-concept of a director) and I will move on in that direction, by writing scripts. I thought it was about directing actors, lighting and recording (filming) but it is over. We are disenchanted. We know the “ghost in the machine” is a result NOT of the machine’s components but of us, pumping money in it. There’s no need to worship the machine any longer. Just take anything and pump money in it. We know it’s this way, why would there be any exception for movies. Man, was I blue-eyed!

I have taken what seems to me an important and eye-opening message from this conversation with the friendly unknown new-yorker and it was worth for me taking the trip to Cannes (I came on a three hour car ride). But the “international buyers interested in our films” are in deep debt with us young directors from all over the world. Apart from missing the most basic common courtesy to attend meetings young directors from all over the world have been led to believe would take place here and thus have travelled around the planet to be a part of, they lack even the most rudimentary understanding of their position and the meaning of their job and the possible positive impact they could have on the future of the art (and the market) of film, becoming allies of young directors from all over the world. They are simply being irresponsable and ignorant, and until proven otherwise, their impact is just destructive.

When young directors from all over the world will get the message those guys will loose their jobs.