The producing team from the region’s pioneering film collective New Caribbean Cinema have returned from Cannes with exciting news. Every single one of the four projects presented to agencies, commissions and private investors during their stint at the world renowned film festival and market have hit a mark. Michelle Serieux and Storm Saulter who attended the festival for the first time, say that after seeing for themselves the benefits of having had a presence there, this trip will definitely not be the last.
“This was the first time a contingent like ours was actually officially registered as part of the Cannes market. This gave us access to very important vendor information and more importantly gave other agencies at the market access to us. We were solicited for meetings by film festivals and companies who after seeing our listing “ New Caribbean Cinema” in the market guide, contacted us and the results have been phenomenal. We have made solid relationships with not just new companies but more importantly with really reputable distributors, which is really the missing link for most producers of Caribbean film content. We had also targeted the individual projects to specific organisations and that strategy was definitely successful,” Serieux said.
One such success was the finalization of an agreement between the Guadeloupe film commissioner Mr Tony Coco-Viloin to partner with NCC on the first stage of a new feature film project being helmed by Serieux. After prelim discussions from St Lucia earlier this year, Michelle met with film commissioner Tony Coco-Viloin at Cannes and the two have set in motion the beginnings of a co-production between Guadeloupe, Jamaica and St Lucia for the ground breaking new feature film project. Under their agreement, Michelle will be going to Guadeloupe in the upcoming months for a writer’s residency co-financed by the Guadeloupe Film Commission as the first stage in her process, writing the feature film script.
“I have been following New Caribbean Cinema and am very happy to be able to support them in their process. This is just the first stage for us and we are committed to maintaining the relationship with Michelle so that we can see this project through. We are very excited about this opportunity to collaborate,” Mr Coco-Viloin, the film commissioner and also a filmmaker, explained.
Storm Saulter, who also attended Cannes for the first time, walked away from the festival with great news. “I was honestly a little surprised about the number of people at the Market who had already heard of “Better Mus’ Come” and who had a particular interest in what’s happening cinematically in the Caribbean. I had meetings with a number of Film Festival Programmers , Distribution companies , and Investors. And I’m now awaiting word from Distributors for “Better Mus’ Come” and have gotten interest from investors for my next two feature film projects. Cannes is really a meeting point where people and interests in the motion picture business from all over the World have a chance to intersect. Once you make these links the most important thing is the following up and the development of some kind of relationship that will be useful down the road. From talented up and coming filmmakers to the actual President of the Jury at Cannes, you never know who you’re going to meet, and what those connections can mean for your career. So Cannes has just ended, but all the work we need to put in really starts now.
NCC also took part in the Short Film Corner and were happy to find out that Michelle’s short film MISSED was favorited by viewers who checked out the digital library where the film was listed. The Doc Corner was also a very rewarding experience for the persistent filmmakers who are in development on a social documentary project set in Jamaica.
“The response we received has certainly validated a lot for us. For us being at Cannes was not just about the red carpet but about having a line up that excites potential stakeholders because finally they are seeing a little more evidence of capable and creative approaches to film-making coming from this side of the world. After this trip we have a renewed confidence that the sacrifices we are making to do the legwork ourselves to creating a quality product will pay off.
“There is great value to be had in being self sufficient, self reliant, within a community. We want to prove that we can harness the resources we have available in the Caribbean by embracing limitations and transforming them into advantages.”