21 June 2024

South Australian filmmakers took centre stage at the biggest film market in the world last month as part of the inaugural Adelaide Film Festival x Cannes initiative.

The buzz was palpable as Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) connected local producers and directors and their projects to the global film market, the Cannes Marche du Film, which is held every year alongside the world’s most prestigious film festival, the Cannes International Film Festival.

AFF CEO & Creative Director Mat Kesting said: “It was an honour for Adelaide Film Festival to lead this delegation. This new initiative for South Australian filmmakers is focussed on meaningful outcomes. It supports participants to understand and connect with the global film business so that they can secure future production partners, international sales and investment. Adelaide Film Festival has established strong and deep international relationships over the years, underpinned by the festival’s well-regarded brand, which profile South Australia, our stories and our culture to the world — and reinforce our state as a premiere destination for film production.”

AFF x Cannes was open to filmmakers with a near (in post-production) or completed film seeking an international sales agent.  Five films were selected for the initiative — Lesbian Space Princess (directors Emma Hough-Hobbs & Leela Varghese), Kangaroo Island (director Timothy Piper), With or Without You (director Kelly Schilling), The Iron Winter (director Kasimir Burgess) and Mockbuster (director Anthony Frith). Filmmakers Leela Varghese, Timothy Piper and Kelly Schilling represented their films along with Mockbuster writer and producer Sandy Cameron and The Iron Winter producer Ben Golotta. Other filmmakers to join the delegation were Travis Akbar, Nara Wison, Josh Trevorrow, Lisa Scott and Matt Vesely, each presenting a slate of new work, engaging directly with investors and agents in the market.

The opportunity to attend was equally valued by both emerging and more established filmmakers.

Sandy Cameron said: “Financing features can be an isolating and challenging experience while based in Australia, with significant geographical and domestic market hurdles. In Cannes, the entire global market is together and approachable, and you can rapidly build a network that allows you to knock on many doors depending on your project’s needs. Despite the monstrous scale of the festival and Marche, AFF x Cannes provided a great framework to access a complex event and built a strong sense of camaraderie and community within the delegation.”

Joshua Trevorrow said: “I had an incredible time in Cannes with the AFF delegation. I feel my takeaway was being really committed to the projects you’re pitching, and having full faith in the team and story. There is a mountain to climb to make a film and it just has to feel right. The experience has certainly pushed me to be more, but overall I have come away with a much more worldly lens of the sector and to the bigger picture.”

Leela Varghese said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have attended the festival for the first time with this Adelaide Film Festival initiative. Cannes and Marche Du Film are overwhelming, so to have guidance and support for my first time attending was very beneficial. As a writer/director, the idea of ‘going to markets’ — especially ones like Cannes — was relatively abstract, but through the scaffolding of AFF’s program I feel it truly clicked. I now understand the importance of going to markets like Cannes every year. Team Lesbian Space Princess as a unit are so much better connected and prepared for the future having attended Cannes.”

Lisa Scott said: “The most valuable lesson I learnt is that there is a market for Australian films in the international space. We tell unique stories and they sell well in Europe where demand for our films is strong. This industry is all about connections and my time in Cannes reinforced this view. Having your film in an A-list festival is the best platform for independent films to create a buzz around your title before taking it to market — they go hand in hand.”

Download the AFF Goes to Cannes booklet here.

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