Exclusive: Cannes Competition Cinéfondation Interviews

The final selection of short films in the Cinéfondation competition are playing today at the Cannes Film Festival, which will be followed by a ceremony awarding the winners.

With a wide variety of short films screening at Cannes every year, the Cinéfondation competition provides an outlet for film school students and their graduate films to compete. This year, esteemed director Michel Gondry and a panel of film industry pros are judging the competition.

Just ahead of their screenings today, the film directors from several of the shorts showcased this week spoke about their journeys in making their films come true.

Interviews moderated by Louise Wastin (Cannes Film Festival)

The Agony And Sweat of The Human Spirit : University of Iowa

Interview with director’s Jesse Damazo and Joe Bookman

What inspired you to mix comedy and loss in your short film?

Initially, we set out to write a light, quirky comedy, but at some point during the writing process, we decided to incorporate some slightly more serious elements into the script. We discovered that texturing our comic universe with hints of gravitas actually enhanced the comedy, and helped us create a more substantial film. Comedy is quite often seen as one of the hardest genres to crack, particularly in short stories.

Did you stick to the script, or give your actors some space to improvise?

We acted in our own film, and we while we stuck fairly close to the script throughout the shooting process, we allowed ourselves to play and experiment as well. Several important performance decisions were the result of improvisations or last minute ideas. Occasionally, things felt fresher and funnier when we discovered them in the moment.

Big Muddy - Columbia University

Interview with director Jefferson Moneo

How did you get your short film together and how did you find the right actors to interpret your directorial vision?

Big Muddy was financed through kickstarter.com and developed at Columbia University throughout the spring 2010 semester with faculty and students. Two of the actors, Johnny Brodsky and Ken Heaton, work shopped the script with me at Columbia. Tricia Braun is an old friend of mine who I've wanted to work with for a long time. Through Tricia, I found Rob van Meenen. Thank god for Tricia, because I was having a really difficult time casting the role Rob eventually played. I think he's really wonderful in the film and a total joy to work with.

How did you approach the shoot with your DP, and what were the essences you wanted to capture in the great American outdoors, in relation to your story?

I've worked with DP Craig Trudeau on numerous short films. We're good friends and we've worked together so often that we've developed short hand in communicating with each other. Most importantly, I trust him completely. He's not afraid to tell me when he disagrees with me and most of the time I think he's correct. As for the great American outdoors, the film was actually shot in Saskatchewan, Canada. I didn't really think about capturing any 'essence' of the landscape. I'm from Saskatchewan and what you see on film is where I grew up. The only essence I was interested in was character driven. Perhaps the locations reflected the state of the characters in the film.

Ya-Gan-Bi-Hang (Fly By Night) - Chung-Ang University

Interview with director Son Tae-gyum

What is the general feeling in South Korea about homosexuality? Is it accepted or a taboo subject?

It definitely is a tabooed subject. Of course, it did get better compared to the old days, but it is still not usual to be open and public about it. Many homosexual people have hard times because of this matter. General sentiment towards the homosexuality isn't great either. From regulations on gay marriage, many things regarding homosexuality are not widely accepted in Korean society.

What gave you the inspiration to shoot a short film on the controversial subject of ‘male prostitution’?

Among teenagers and younger people, things like that do actually happen, and that's what inspired me to make this film as well. Aside that, the renowned director Pedro Almodovar is my favorite and living inspiration. I watched , again right before I made this film.

Winners of the Cinéfondation will be Awarded later today.

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