Home > Uncategorized > Going Bionic Column > GOING BIONIC #265 – NAVIGATING THE 2015 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL – May 7, 2015


Navigating The 2015 Cannes Film Festival
May 7, 2015
Hammad Zaidi
Welcome to Going Bionic #265, and say hello to our first of many articles focusing on the 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival. I’ve attended Cannes every year since 2002, (minus 2011, when I stayed home to make sure I witnessed the birth of my twin daughters Zoe and Lena).  I’m headed to Cannes this week, so here’s a quick overview of the world’s best festival. 
In the Beginning
The Cannes Film Festival was originally created as a response to the Venice Film Festival. While Cannes was supposed to launch in 1939, it waited until 1946, one year after the end of World War II, to begin its cinematic journey. 
In the 1950’s, Hollywood’s fascination with Cannes ignited its popularity, which helped the festival reach previously unforeseen heights.  Then, on April 15, 1986, Charlotte Spadaro, the Mayor of Beverly Hills at the time, signed a proclamation making Beverly Hills and Cannes became “sister cities.” The move once again ensured Cannes would remain Hollywood’s home away from home. 
The 2015 Jury
The Presidents of this year’s Jury are Joel and Ethan Coen. Other Jury members include Rossy de Palma (Actress – Spain) Sophie Marceau (Actress, Director – France) Sienna Miller (Actress – United Kingdom) Rokia Traoré (Composer, Singer-songwriter – Mali) Guillermo del Toro (Director, Writer, Producer – Mexico) Xavier Dolan (Director, Writer, Producer, Actor – Canada) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Actor –United States).
Films in Competition
Cannes accepted 19 feature films in competition for 2015, including Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, Justin Kurzel’s MacBeth, and Valerie Donzelli’s Marguerite & Julien. 
Un Certain Regard
Widely known as the most respected selection at Cannes outside of the official competition, the Un Certain Regard boasts nineteen films, including three first time efforts; Yared Zeleke’s Lamb, Ida Panahandeh’s Nahid, and Laurent Lariviere’s Je Suis Un Soldat (I am a Solider).
Un Certain Regard films should never be considered as second tier selections, because there are many reasons for them to be programmed here instead of being planted in the group of competition films. Some reasons may  include previous public screenings and or distribution efforts which may disqualify the film for being in competition, but doesn’t stop Cannes from recognizing deserving slices of cinema. 
Out of Competition 
There are five films being shown out of competition this year, including Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. 
Special Screenings and Midnight Screenings
There are seven special screenings this year, including Natalie Portman’s directing debut; A Tale of Love and Darkness. Three “Midnight” screenings are slated, including Asif Kapadia’s Amy.
Short Films in Competition 
Out of 4,550 submissions, Cannes 2015 accepted nine shorts, including seven narrative and two animated pieces. No shorts from North America were programmed. In fact, only three of the nine selected came from English speaking counties (two from the United Kingdom and one from Australia). Asia, Europe, South America and even one Oceanic country were represented. 
One key fact about the Competition Short Films is they are limited to 15 minutes in length, including credits. Thus, shorter is better when it comes to getting noticed at Cannes. 
By the Numbers
The 20 million Euro budgeted Cannes Film Festival continues to swell in its popularity. For example, in 2003, there were 18,926 persons accredited from 101 countries, including 1,940 from the USA. However, by 2014, 31,358 persons were accredited from 128 countries, including 3,238 from the United States. 
In 2003, 906 writers and filmmakers, 4,049 distributors and 4,887 producers attended Cannes. Last year’s festival welcomed 1,555 writers and filmmakers, 4,484 distributors and 5,498 producers. Additionally, the numbers for all attendance categories have grown every year, so Cannes shows no signs of slowing.
In Conclusion
Cannes is by far the most influential festival on the planet, which is why I’ll deliver key on-the-ground insight from the 68th annual edition, which runs from May 13-24. 
I thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next week. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal. 
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