Last week, I tweeted out that I had been asked to give a keynote speech at the Cannes Film Festival. In an attempt at humor, I made it sound as if it had been a last minute thing, when in fact I’ve known about it for months. The truth is that I had been approached to help set the stage for a full day event–one in which the MEDIA Program of the European Union would take stock of trends in the film business, with the goal of setting priorities for the future of the program. In any case, here it is. Thanks are due to Tara Roy, one of my Columbia students, who taped it for me.
In the last few days, the folks at Amazon have been a lot more open about their plans to invest in and distribute traditional theatrical films, as well as continuing their successful forays into episodic television. The various interviews and the accompanying analyses underline that fact that for Amazon, the goal is to get consumers hooked on its ecosystem, which bundles content with everything from baby formula and toilet paper deliveries. It reminds me of a story I tell every year in my Business of Film class at Columbia, which goes as follows:
About 20 years ago, at the Cannes Film Festival, I visited the hotel suite of a major sales agent to see what their upcoming product lineup looked like. As I entered the suite, I was greeted by the CEO of the company, who had a grin on his face. He sat me down and told me the source of his bemusement. Continue reading “Amazon and the “Vegetable Story””
This past week, I’ve been watching as various pundits and publications have been debating the pros and cons of Twitter reviews of movies. I’m more than a disinterested bystander, since I’ve been tweeting reviews of films for more than four years–at festivals, after watching screeners at home, and after seeing films at a commercial theatrical venue.
Additionally, many of you may not know that I run a web site called Movie Tweeviews, which is a curated stream of Twitter reviews. When I first started the site four years ago, I just thought it would be fun to pull together quick responses to films in real time, but I wasn’t interested in the mass public. I wanted to limit the stream to people whose opinions I respected. So, I invited some critics, exhibitors, distributors and filmmakers to contribute. These days, the stream is mostly me, but occasionally there are other voices on the site.
The debate about Twitter reviews began after an expression of distress by Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux. His beef is with the instant judgment that these reviews bring upon a film, which can easily poison its festival launch. The prime example was how quickly Gus Van Sant’s film was skewered on Twitter within minutes of the lights coming up at the Palais this year. Continue reading “In Defense of Twitter Reviews”
Here’s a video of a panel discussion that took place at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, at the UK Film Center. It’s a fascinating look at the various initiaves that are taking place to reinvent the theatrical experience by virtue of digital technologies. It’s a subject that, as you all know, is dear to my heart. And yes, I’m on the panel.
John Tilley sent me this great video he took with his brand new camcorder at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987. I edited it down, and added names for everyone John and I could identify. There are a lot of familiar faces if you’ve been in the film business long enough to remember that far back. Check it out. Maybe you are in there somewhere.
For the second time, the entire second-year Creative Producing class from Columbia University will be coming to the Cannes Film Festival. The purpose of the trip is to have them witness first hand how the business operates, and to demystify the world’s most prestigious film event. Below is a photo of most of them in Sandra Schulberg’s Feature Film Financing class, the day that Ted Hope (the guy in the middle)was the guest speaker. Memorize those faces and say hi to them on the Croisette.
Some of you are already aware that I brought 12 of the Columbia University producing students with me to Cannes this year. My goal was to demystify the event, and to give them a ground level tutorial so that if they end up coming back in any capacity, they could hit the ground running. I asked them to write up some of their experiences at the festival, and I’ll share links when they are posted. In the meantime, here is a great shot of the gang at the IFP party.
Juliet Goodfriend, the Executive Director of our affliliated venue in Bryn Mawr PA, and her companion Marc R. Moreau, PhD Chairman Philosophy Department, LaSalle University wrote this excellent summary of the films they saw in Cannes this year…
Quick impressions from the 62nd Cannes Film Festival
Juliet J. Goodfriend and Marc Moreau, May 16-21, 2009
The blue sea, white yachts, black-tied men with spike-heeled arm candy make this the festival of festivals. Yes, there are also the grunge-clothed industry professionals, and the bizarre groupies who stake out a square foot of territory on the median strip of La Croisette so they can oogle their favorite stars from padded step ladders (seriously). All of this and the parties and crowded sidewalks make the environment bubble like champagne. The sun soaked long lines for admittance can be deadly, but we escaped that punishment being in a wheelchair and with industry badges that put us at the head of the line. So we are thrilled to have been to Cannes, would recommend it to others, but may not bother to go again, since Toronto has the films and it’s a whole lot easier to get to, albeit not nearly as glamorous! Continue reading “Bryn Mawr Film Institute Reports from Cannes”