Cannes Film Festival Q&A with Maggie O'Connor
BWFF is back! Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts throughout the summer, as we highlight the latest in the film industry, and also the experiences of some of our former and current team members who scored amazing film internships.
When most people think of The Cannes Film Festival, they usually think of celebrities drinking expensive champagne and partying in the south of France. However, the festival is one of the most prestigious and elite festivals in the film industry and is internationally acclaimed. The festival is international and held every year in Cannes, France. Prestigious and noted film makers from countries all over the world travel to the south of France to screen their latest film at the festival and meet with other film makers and industry professionals. The festival is often noted for its attendance of high profile actors and celebrities. BWFF had the chance to sit down with one of our previous festival volunteers, Maggie O’Connor, who interned at Cannes this past May, and also was an intern for Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham.
Q: What was your favorite part about working at Cannes?
A: I absolutely loved being able to meet everyone that was involved in my program. There were about 100 or so students in both the film and business program. It was great to meet people from all over the country who shared a common denominator with the love of film. Obviously, the location was amazing as well. The South of France felt as though Beverly Hills had been dropped smack into the Mediterranean.
Q: What did you learn about the film industry from this internship?
A: One of the great things about this internship was the accreditation badge we received. It allowed us to go into any screening (except for red carpet screenings because they were invite only) and access to the Marche du Film (The Film Market). Many students in the business program worked with buyers, distributers and PR agencies that worked within the Marche throughout the duration of the festival. I was unfamiliar with the buying and selling aspect of the film industry before the festival but I feel I have a greater understanding of it now.
Q: What was your role in the festival?
A: I was an assistant to the sponsorship and marketing director at the American Pavilion. I was a liaison to the sponsors and my primary role was to work with the photographer and send the sponsors the photos that showed their products being used throughout the pavilion. I basically just had to keep the sponsors happy. It wasn’t that closely related to film, but it was definitely beneficially in terms of learning about marketing and branding.
Q: Compared to working at Sidewalk, how was this experience different?
*Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is a film festival held in the historic theatre district Birmingham every summer. The festival started in 1999 and has grown since then, and features indie films from around the United States and internationally*
A: Technically, I was working for the American Pavilion and not actual Cannes. The various Pavilions from countries all over the world surrounded the Palais, where most of the screenings take place at Cannes. The countries basically try and promote filmmaking in their country. The American Pavilion was actually funded by various sponsors instead of the government (like most other countries) and was a place for members to attend panels, eat, mingle, go to parties and etc. In terms of the films shown at Sidewalk, they are somewhat similar to Cannes because Sidewalk aims to have some international films in its line up as well. Cannes is just more extreme. Out of the eight or so features I saw at Cannes, maybe three of them were in English.
Q: What was your favorite film at the festival?
A: I have to say, there was not a movie that I disliked at Cannes. There were some that were a tad slower, but I enjoyed all of the films I saw. I think my favorite “In Competition” film that I saw was ‘The Lobster” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. I’m pretty sure it came in 3rd place for the Palm d’Or. It was in English and had actors like Rachel Weiss, John C. Reilly and Collin Ferrell. It was a dystopian film in which the single characters had to find a mate within 45 days or they would be turned into an animal of their choice. My favorite foreign film was a French film called ‘The Brand New Testament,’ directed by Jaco Van Dormael. It was a satire about God living in Brussels and his daughter releases the dates of when everyone was going to die in an email and it was done in a funny way.