cannes short film corner
lets take a second to talk about the cannes short film corner.
it means absolutely nothing.
i went to cannes, in 2013 because homesick got into the short film corner. i was fucking ecstatic. i submitted my film, i got an email saying it was in. holy shit my film is going to cannes! i'll never forget it, i was living in coquitlam at the time and i was just on my way to work, walking to the skytrain and i got the email on my phone. i called my parents immediately and told them. my mom was so excited, my dad was so excited, he said "i'm very proud of you". my dad is an old school east coast been-working-since-he-was-12 kind of guy, who doesn't appreciate sports, or art, let alone films that aren't police academy or american pie. my dad is just a very hard working blue collar dude. i've always said it - no body works harder than my parents. my dad's schedule at work was 7 on 7 off, 12 hour days, and during his 7 off, he'd work 4 or 5 overtime. that's how hard he works. so for him to step out of that realm and tell me he's proud of me for this was a major achievement. this meant a lot to me that he understood the scope of what just happened.
while i was in cannes, i experienced this whole trip with collaborator, then stranger adrian st. louis. when you show up to a festival, you are on your own so i was very thankful to have someone to go with. previously i went to palm springs international short film festival alone and learned a little bit. but this was cannes! on our first day we went and got our credentials and poked around. we heard at the short film corner there was a happy hour where you get free drinks at 5, every day! wow they sure know how to treat us. we got a swag bag with a book of all the films at cannes, turn to a certain page - there is my name with my film, immortalized in the book. pages and pages of films who were also there for the short film corner, i wonder when my film screens? i wonder if it's a non stop thing where they just screen short after short after short and you have to be at the right place right time to see your film.
so we made our way to the short film corner for happy hour, to get those free drinks, and when we were at the area, clearly marked 'short film corner', it was essentially a hallway. at the end of it, a room filled with computers. this was the short film corner - and our films weren't screening, they were just on a database. there was a pamphlet laying around saying that you could rent a screening room, that seats 5 for 1300€. okay, maybe my film isn't as special as i had originally thought.
when everyone got wind of the happy hour, the short film corner was fucking packed to the tits. elbow to elbow people walking around literally saying "go see my movie" without making eye contact, bouncing person to person. it was clear to adrian and i that, this wasn't the place for us and that we were duped. one thing i learned from going to palm springs was that you should bring with you postcards, to advertise your film. every day onward we would go to the short film corner to lay out postcards, and leave to go see films, have lunch, relax in cannes, explore the town, etc. you get statistics sent to you from how many people watch your films, and for how long so why be down there anyway. how do i stand out among thousands of other films - by being in your face about it. no thanks that's not me. i put my postcards up, and copies of the film i had on dvd, and let that do the work for me. my website got a lot of hits that weekend, and i was thankful people even bothered to explore it.
at the time, i wanted to come clean to everyone what this exactly was. but it's hard, when no one else knows - unless you go. everyone will like your status on facebook not knowing what exactly you went to - but they do know you went to cannes. there's more to it than that. i have a hard time, now, years later seeing people (not necessarily friends) on my facebook posting about getting into the short film corner. so badly i want to say 'relax, this means literally nothing and you aint shit'. i hope they go into it and seeing what it actually is, but 9 times out of 10 they don't. they come home and keep up the illusion, and its truly sad. i went back 2 years later, and they dont even let you promote your postcards anymore - probably because daily thousands were being thrown into the trash. so many people were obnoxious and worse running up to me, trying to give me the elevator pitch. and now when i hear people say "so many people saw my film" i can't help but think of these assholes who were relentless and sad trying to shove their film down your throat no matter who you were.
when i got home, i didn't have the heart to really tell my parents what the experience really was. to them, i just went to one of the largest film festivals in the world, and to me i was duped by the tourism board of cannes. i actually felt like i let them down. as absurd as that is. afterwards, to friends, peers, coworkers, whoever, i kept my mouth shut and never mentioned 'going to the short film corner' as anything of prestige if they asked. it wasn't all bad though, you see, when the festival shut down for the night, the parties started. literally every bar was overflowing into the streets with filmmakers. it was fun. i met some telefilm people, and since then have screened (actually screened) in cannes for the last three years (entertainment, wool, vehicular romanticide) and i honestly wouldn't have made that connection if it weren't for being there. i guess the experience is what you make of it, just like everything.