Why Welsh Film Industry Eyes and Cameras Focus on the Cannes Festival; It's the Highlight of the Year for the International Movie Industry, but Just What Does the Cannes Film Festival Mean for Welsh Film-Makers? Pauline Burt, Chief Executive of the Film Agency for Wales, Explains Why It's the Place to Be

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

Why Welsh Film Industry Eyes and Cameras Focus on the Cannes Festival; It's the Highlight of the Year for the International Movie Industry, but Just What Does the Cannes Film Festival Mean for Welsh Film-Makers? Pauline Burt, Chief Executive of the Film Agency for Wales, Explains Why It's the Place to Be


Byline: Pauline Burt

WITHOUT a doubt Cannes is the ultimate film festival - and not just for A-lister celebrities who add glamour and excitement.

The 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival opened this week and runs until May 24.

Around 30,000 film professionals are accredited at the market that runs in parallel with the festival, with most of those professionals not having time to see films, as they'll be too busy furthering their particular feature film interests and networking.

Of course, while the business of film is conducted around the year, there is an incredible energy during a film festival generated by the fact there's such a large number and array of professionals from all over the world gathered in one place.

From that point of view, it can be a very efficient way to bring multiple parties who have an interest in financing, selling or otherwise being associated with your film together - and get them in one place to tackle any key issues, and close or significantly further a deal.

It's also a very productive time for discovering new information, as the trade press are all abundantly present and in overdrive with large swaths of companies eager to provide the latest information about their business and the benefits of working in or with their country.

From the Film Agency of Wales' point of view, the festival provides an opportunity to efficiently platform "brand Wales" - the abundance of talent, quality facilities and great variety of locations that can be charted with the excellent service that the Wales Screen Commission provides.

We're also out there furthering the slate of approximately 30 features that we have in development, concentrating our energies on those most ready to raise and further their financing and distribution arrangements. This allows us to represent the interests of a wide range of the filmmakers with whom we're collaborating - often furthering a project by forging new alliances, or a particular business conversation.

Cannes is a key market, because of the saturation of buyers from the widest array of companies, but this also makes it incredibly competitive. Around 4,000 films are submitted for Cannes each year, but only about 50 make it into the festival itself, as well as there being a huge number of out of competition, "market screenings", shown in and around the main drag - the Croisette - all of which are competing for buyer attention.

There's a great need to think carefully about the timing; only going to market when a project is ready and when potential allies are already substantially lined up.

There's little or no point in going to market with a script tucked under your arm (which no-one has time or inclination to read during a market) and no idea who you're going to meet (they'll be booked up by the time you land at the airport). But, if you and your project are ready, these markets can be real catalysts.

A large part of the allure of Cannes is its sense of history - it's proven itself over decades - as being a quality purveyor of distinctive film voices, with past winners of the top prize, the Palme d'Or, including Federico Fellini, Luis Bu[+ or -]uel, David Lynch and Steven Soderbergh.

Today the festival has become an important showcase for European films thanks to the quality of the films, the creativity of the artists and, most importantly, the fighting spirit of the professionals. …

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Why Welsh Film Industry Eyes and Cameras Focus on the Cannes Festival; It's the Highlight of the Year for the International Movie Industry, but Just What Does the Cannes Film Festival Mean for Welsh Film-Makers? Pauline Burt, Chief Executive of the Film Agency for Wales, Explains Why It's the Place to Be
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