I Would Not Trade My Cannes Film Festival Experience For Anything
Being a full time entrepreneur with Rugs and Beyond, an E-commerce platform, little did I know that my true passion for Film-making would lead me to the world’s most prestigious platform, the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, last May 2019. As a kid, I was always be smitten by the arts and had a natural inclination towards all things creative. I staunchly believe that if an individual has a creative bent of mind; one can channel their energy across various platforms and not just a single arena. With that being said, right after an MBA in the U.S., working in a cushy finance job in New York, I saw a huge gap in the rug industry between the weavers and end customers and founded Rugs and Beyond in a male-dominated industry.
However, it was only till last summer 2018 when I was in the US, I enrolled myself in film-making classes in New York Film Academy. Nine-hour intensive classes, coupled with packed weekends, it was an extremely rigorous experience but surely fulfilling. One thing led to another and we soon started shooting a short film that I wrote and directed called “Letter of Intent” in Downtown New York. The film is about the inability of a grief-stricken woman to move on in life. It portrays a concoction of emotions and succinctly depicts various sentiments as to when one loses a loved one. After going through the whole rigmarole of innumerous re-takes, post-editing, re-editing, and taking feedback from industry professionals our short film was finally ready. After showcasing the film to a few friends and family, I was urged to submit the film to various film festivals. Doubting myself being a first time filmmaker, I hesitatingly submitted the same and completely forgot about it and least expecting anything from the same. It was only until a chilly morning in the first week of December, last year that I woke up to an email from one of the most renowned film festivals-New York Indie Film Awards, that “Letter of Intent” had won. I was ecstatic beyond belief and this was followed by the films official selection in Los Angeles Short Films, Top Short Awards, First-time Filmmakers Awards etc. to name a few.
One thing led to another and we soon started shooting a short film that I wrote and directed called “Letter of Intent” in Downtown New York. The film is about the inability of a grief-stricken woman to move on in life.
They say, aim for the moon and you’ll surely shoot the stars. Keeping that in mind, one thing that I had always wanted was to showcase my film at the Cannes Film Festival at some point. It seemed a little far-fetched at that time but I firmly believe where there is a will, there is a way. It was only in April 2019, putting everything into perspective, I decided to take my film to the 72nd Cannes Film Festival after going through all the required protocols. I still recall going to Cannes for a holiday way back in 2014 and eyeing the steps of the Film festival and telling my father,
“Dad, I will be here soon on these steps walking the Red Carpet and showcasing my film one day.”
However, inspite of being a little jittery and not sure what to expect, I prepped up for the much awaited Festival and I arrived in Cannes on May 13th. The whole environment and the energy was enigmatic. It was interesting to see all industry professionals from all over the world make their way to the much-awaited film festival. Being a part of Marche du Film, I met a lot of industry professionals from Hollywood and other parts of the world. It was an overwhelming experience for me and my heart was brimming with gratitude when my film was showcased at
the Marche at the Cannes Film Festival after which, a few producers expressed their keen interest for my short film to be transformed into a feature in the near future. On the other hand, on May 20th, 2019 the poster of my short-film and the trailer of the same was released at the India Pavilion at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival by industry professionals under the helm of Mr. Ashok Parmar, Joint Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ankit Shukla with a packed audience. It was quite an exhilarating moment for me and my entire team in New York
after the film was well-received. As they say nothing in this world is impossible and if one has grit and determination, the sky is the limit which is something that I truly abide by.
It was interesting to see all industry professionals from all over the world make their way to the much-awaited film festival. Being a part of Marche du Film, I met a lot of industry professionals from Hollywood and other parts of the world.
Being a week in Cannes literally seemed like time just flew by. Promoting my film, participating in Networking events at the American Pavilion, Scandinavian Terrace sessions, going for world-class movie screenings, Cannes certainly took me by a storm. It was interesting to meet Rima Das, whose film “Village Rockstars” was India’s Oscar entry in 2018. Hearing her story how she came about the whole idea of creating something of that stature, was surely interesting. It was also pretty intriguing to see Meera Nair, who was the first Indian film-maker to win a Caméra
d’Or at Cannes (in 1988), encouraged the group to narrate their cinemas on celluloid. “If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will” has been Nair’s refrain for a long time. She echoed the sentiment at her press conference in Cannes, too. “It’s important for people from diverse backgrounds to tell their stories. If you don’t tell your story, someone from Hollywood will tell your story instead,” she commented.
Lastly, my Cannes rendezvous would have been incomplete without walking the prestigious Red Carpet. It was the by-invite only event for Elton John’s film, “Rocketman” which premiered at the festival and I had the opportunity to walk my first Red Carpet ever at the majestic Cannes Film Festival 2019. It was truly an honor that has indelibly been etched in my mind. Preceded by appointments at the salon for hair and make-up, pre-Red Carpet photo-shoot, it was nothing short of glitz and glam. It was interesting to see Priyanka Chopra debut her Red Carpet alongside
Deepika Padukone who has been a long-time Ambassador for L’Oreal with the veteran, none other than Aishwarya Rai who was seen walking the Red Carpet along with her daughter, Aradhya Bachchan. It might seem all glamorous from the outside but the sheer amount of work that goes into putting the entire festival together with filmmakers from around the world, is unfathomable. To conclude, I would not trade my entire experience at the French Riviera for anything else and hope to contribute more to the festival with quality work and set an example. As of now, I am currently working on a feature which is about gender-disparity and which shall certainly resonate with the minds of the audience, given the ghastly discrimination between men and women. With that being said, Cannes has been a whirlwind of an experience. No one ever had it easy, it does take a village to reach the pinnacle of success.