Alternative Cannes Report 2011

By Rory O'Donnell

Well, the day after I’m back in the office it’s Open House, and then we’re into all the preparation for the new term, and suddenly it’s two weeks later and Cannes seems an age ago; but maybe this is a good time to sit and reflect.

It was an odd Cannes for me. Strangely subdued. Maybe this is the first year that it seemed normal, just the usual thing, so maybe it’s a sign that I’ve now been too often for it to seem the wild and exotic adventure it used to.

As I’ve stated before I go to Cannes for different reasons than most. I rarely see films and have discovered over the years that the majority of parties are not worth the desperate seeking of tickets that so many people seem to spend their whole time there involved in. The main reason to go to a party is to tell people the next day that you were there, or to swan by the groups of wannabes without tickets gathered outside.

Oh dear, I’m really starting to sound like an old cynic aren’t I. Well, you know what, I still love Cannes; and what I love about it is that I get to meet people from all round the world, people involved in film. As usually my visit took me to all the pavilions representing over 70 countries, and the hundreds of booths in the Palais full of peddlers of cinematic goodies. So what did I learn this year?

The Pavillions

As I’m always telling people, once you get to Cannes you don’t have to spend much money, so long as you know where to look. Each of the pavilliosn has some form of food and/or drink event either at lunchtime or around 5pm (‘Happy Hours’). Friday’s lunch was provided by Qatar (pre any FIFA controversy), Saturday’s by Azerbaijan (more on this later) and Sunday’s by Italy (a very nice cheese selection with sun-dried tomatoes amongst other goodies)

Italy is a country which has a variety of regions competing to provide the best facilities and offers for filmmakers, as are Germany, France and Canada. I’ve picked up the details on what’s on offer, so if you’re thinking of filming abroad or looking at co-production let me know and I’ll dig out the information for you.

Qatar, of course, are above offering bribes for anything, but as they provided a lovely quiche and ratatouille combination for lunch I will mention that the Doha Film Institute is racking up a lot of incentive schemes, along with a fund for Arab filmmakers. For fairness sake I should mention that Abu Dhabi is also providing support for Arab filmmakers, while the Korea based Asian Cinema Fund has funding for Asian filmmakers.

Saturday provided an array of Eastern European delights. At 5pm a rainstorm broke just as we entered the Ukrainian tent, but we were told we couldn’t touch the display of food on display as the government minister who was guest of honour hadn’t shown up yet. So we moved down a couple of tents to Georgia for a glass of champagne. Here it was that I realised how small the industry really is. In a tent in the South of France run by a country from the Caucasus my actress company bumped into a man who had directed her in  the Spanish Sahara, who introduced me the German actor who was one of the stars of his new movie, an actor I had just cast in Chris Jones’ new project. Not only that, but the actress I was with had nearly been cast as his wife in that project. What an incestuous world this really is!

Now it was time to move on to Azerbaijan. I’d visited them earlier in the day and it was their first time in Cannes. They plied me with 40% vol. Cognac and gave me an amazing coffee table book full of pictures of Azerbaijan. So, of course, I had to return to their ‘Happy Hour’. What I encountered was the best food, by far, of this years Cannes. Every time we thought we might leave a new tray of deserts would appear. After meeting the Minister of Culture and being given a copy of Azerbaijan’s Oscar longlister by it’s producer we were given a goodie bag of Azeri silk and sent on our way; and then they won Eurovision that night!

So, basically and totally partisanly, go and film in Azerbaijan!

Other developments included the Baltic countries finally splitting up with their own stands, Estonia with a pavilion and Latvia and Lithuania in the Palais. The organisers of the Kaunas Film Festival informed me that they were the only country apart from the USA that received no funding from the government and their stand was financed through local film producers. Congratulations to them and I hope they get the support they deserve next year.

While I’ve mentioned the US Pavillion I’ll just mention a discussion I had with one of their ‘volunteers’. The US Pavillion is the only one you have to pay to get into, which is rightly justified by their having no government support and the high quality of the talks they put on, however discovering that their volunteers have to PAY to work there, pay their own flights and accommodation and pay for food they get in the pavilion….the mind really boggles. And you think the intern situation is bad here!

A few interesting tax incentives I came across:

Up to 50% of eligible expenditure is reimbursable from Cine Tirol in Austria

Croatia is bringing in a completely new incentive scheme in December (get it while no-one knows about it!) Up to 20% Rebate.

‘Shoot in Korea’ is providing a 25% rebate on production costs

and many more. Drop me a line and I can let you know what’s available in any country you’re thinking of filming in, along with production and location guides, crew lists and co-production information.

The Palais

Here is where you are easily over-whelmed by the whole business of the film industry. Thousands of film posters shout at you from the booths where trailers loop on screens and employees range from the bored to the desperate. Here a wonderful Thai gentleman insisted I watch the trailer for his up-coming movie and invited me to a Thai Boxing match at Palm Beach (I tried to go and ended up at the wrong place!) while the Japanese Saki Night was a little lower key this year, collecting donations for their disaster appeal.

The titles of films didn’t seem as off the wall as last year, but maybe I’m just getting inured to their inanity. Here are a few that stood out:

1) Asylum just weren’t on form, with only ‘2-Headed Shark Attack’ tickling my funny bone. They’re really getting the most from that CGI shark.
2) There seems to be a fashion for films that ‘do exactly what they say on the tin’. For example: ‘Mad Bastards’, ‘White Irish Drinkers’ and ‘Some Guy Who Kills People’.
3) The ‘lost in translation’ award nominations for foreign film titles include: ‘Claypot Curry Killer’. ‘Happy Fruit Village’, ‘How To Boil a Frog’ and ‘Wanted: Missing Head’.
4) Desperate attempts to offend? How about ‘Farts Of Fury’ from Estonia or ‘Delhi Belly’ with it’s tagline ‘Shit Happens’.
5) The ‘what the hell is that?’ group is lead by ‘Metaphysics for Monkeys’, followed by ‘What Are Bears For?’, ‘Camel Spiders’ and ‘Silent Venom’…does anyone know of a noisy poison?
6) While ‘Goats’ had me hoping for a horror version of Heidi (it’s not) and ‘Snowmaggeddon’ and ‘Vikingdom 3D’ showed people were playing with their spell checks I guess my winner for the year goes to the tempting fate title of ‘This Is Not A Film’

So, Monday finished with the Norwegian Party (logo ‘Moods of Norway’ with a picture of a tractor…not sure what they were saying there). You can always trust the Scandinavians to have a laid back, un-pretentious good time, even if the various countries didn’t seem to be talking to each other in the Scandinavian Terrace (maybe they were jealous of Sweden having it’s own pavilion for the first time, or still upset at Iceland for last year’s volcano).

I came home with 120 short films and 6 features on DVD. Down from last year, but I had more meetings than usual. Maybe next year I’ll have to go for longer. This year Raindance found a well-priced hotel by the station, right above a sex shop. Maybe that’s where we’ll be next year, so hopefully I’ll see you there.

If you want access to all the literature I picked up at Cannes do drop me a line at

Have Fun.

Casting Your Film

Learn about the casting process and the best ways to get the right actors for your production.

Tutors: Rory O'Donnell Venue: Raindance Film Centre
10 Craven Street, WC2N 5PE
Date: April 9 Duration: Single Eveninng
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About The Author

Rory O DonnellAfter gaining a Masters degree in Ancient and Medieval History and excavating the most northerly leper colony found in the British Isles Rory took the natural next step of training as an actor. Following a career which including being directed by Stephen Daldry in the West End and shooting aliens on the HMS Belfast he then began making short films and travelling the world until all his money ran out.

Rory first volunteered at the Raindance Film festival in 2000, was print traffic coordinator for the festival in 2008 & 2009. In 2009 he became course director. He also works occasionally as a casting director, with four features and many shorts to his credit.


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About Raindance

Raindance is dedicated to fostering and promoting independent film in the UK and around the world. Based in the heart of London, Raindance combines Raindance Film Festival, Training Courses, the prestigious British Independent Film Awards.and

A little bit of History

Since 1993 the Raindance Film Festival has annually uncovered the hottest new filmmakers to hit the cinematic scene. Some Raindance-premiered hits are Pulp Fiction, Memento, the Blair Witch Project, Ghost World and Love Exposure.

In 1998 Raindance launched the British Independent Film Awards – a yearly industry event attended by the upper ranks of the UK moviemaking establishment. The BIFAs are now regarded as one of the penultimate awards in the world film calendar. Honours have included Ben Kingsley, Harvey Weinstein, Richard Curtis, and helped launch countless films including 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire.

Until 2001 Raindance Film Festival was sometimes referred to as the ‘London’ or ‘pre-MIFED’ Screenings (MIFED collapsed post 9/11), essentially filling the film market position for the UK and which saw approximately 63% of films picked up by UK distributors. A similar London UK Film Focus (LUFF) was set up in 2004 by Film London, followed by the Production Finance Market in 2007.

Similarly “Raindance Kids: London’s Children Film Festival” which had been set up by Raindance and ran successfully for a number of years post 9/11 when sponsorship collapsed, hitting all arts organizations. The model was reproduced two years later by the London Barbican who now run the “London Children’s Film Festival”.

Raindance consulted on the creation of the Berlin Talent Campus and created Raindance East (now the independently run East End Film Festival).

The rest of the year at Raindance is spent training thousands of new and established filmmakers in all aspects of film. Among high profile alumni are Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins), David Yates (Harry Potter), Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – who actually met at a Raindance course. Raindance training is one of the world’s largest catering for over 3000 students per year.

Raindance set up the Independent Film Trust in 2006, a charity to help support the film festival, the BIFA awards as well as film training for disadvantaged kids. In 2007 Raindance.TV was launched, an online IPTV channel which has supported the online distribution of hundreds of features and shorts, with views topping 1 million in its first 6 months.

Our filmmaking publications are published internationally, translated into French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Portugese and Italian and are an essential on most university reading lists.

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Alternative Cannes Report