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Podcast – Cannes Critics’ Week and Applying to Festivals

Cannes Critics’ Week Head of the Film Department Rémi Bigot speaks to the opportunities and process behind the illustrious program, and Screen Australia’s Manager, Festivals and Industry Partnerships Dale Fairbairn shares her advice for applying to festivals.

Rémi Bigot, Dale Fairbairn

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Justine Triet, Charlotte Wells, Wong Kar-wai, Guillermo del Toro, Justin Kurzel - just some of the acclaimed filmmakers who started at La Semaine de la Critique, Cannes Critics’ Week.

Now in its 63rd edition, Critics’ Week is renowned for uncovering new talent in both feature and short form, and continues to receive nearly 3000 submissions every year.

For Rémi Bigot, head of the Film Department, supporting early career filmmakers, nurturing talent, remains at the heart of Critics’ Week – “our job is to bet on the director and maybe see [them] next with their second, third and fourth feature in Venice, Locarno.”

“I think there’s this feeling that the film has to be perfect, and we are very much into imperfect films. We’d rather go for a film that has some flaws, or some aspects that are a bit rocky, but where we feel like there’s a true voice there. Some true promise. We want a director who has a point of view, who has something to say, who is staying true to who they are.”

Throughout the episode Bigot offers advice for filmmakers considering applying for Cannes Critics’ Week, how they approach selection, and further details about the program and its short film extension, Next Step – a weeklong workshop for short film directors selected for Critics’ Week to transition to feature films.

Screen Australia’s Manager of Festivals and Industry Partnerships Dale Fairbairn also joins the episode to discuss how filmmakers can best set their project up for success when approaching international festivals. Fairbairn recommends filmmakers should develop a festival plan early and stresses the importance of being strategic when considering which festivals to submit to, so “be selective for your title and the outcomes you want.”

“What are your goals for your film, and what are you goals for yourself? […] Whether your intention is to reach audiences, to make them aware of a community issue, or is it about wanting a short film to help you try to make a feature, or are you wanting to set your career off and make the best, most interesting short that’s going to win awards and help you go on to your next project? […] it really depends on what you want to get out of the process of applying for a festival.”

And while research and preparation go a long way to setting your film up for festival success, Fairbairn advocates for letting the film do the talking for you. Networking and a strong slate will help establish you beyond the festival screening, but “for festivals, it’s your film that will do it.”

Applications for the Cannes Critics Week close Friday 8 March 2024. Details of the submission process and program can be found here.

Applications for Screen Australia’s festival marketing support are open year-round. More information about Screen Australia’s festival marketing funding available can be found here.

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