My name is Eduardo Jovanovic. I was born and raised in San Antonio de Los Altos, Venezuela. I moved to Portland about 2 years ago to study at PSU. I represent my country through the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) in which I help the local Portland community by sharing my culture through presentations and a wide variety of other activities. I am currently a senior in the Film program, and my specialty is Cinematography. During the past Spring Term, PSU gave me the opportunity to do an Internship at the Cannes Film Festival in Nice, France.
Yup, that’s the real red carpet.
Funnily, even though I have a European passport from my second nationality (Serbia), this was the first time I ever traveled to Europe.
The Cannes festival is the biggest and most prestigious film festival in the world. Before movies are screened in the local theaters they first participate in one or several festivals and competitions where critics and people from the industry review them and ultimately build their reputation before the films are released to the rest of the world.
This festival happens every year for 2 weeks, and it is divided between the two sides. The business side and the festival site. New movies do every sort of performance during the festival to incentivize the public to attend to their Premiere. For zombie movies, you see pretty well-dressed zombies roaming around the festival, for Rocket Man why not have an Elton John making a public concert? Then there is the business side, which happens through the countries pavilions (something like a gathering place for every country during the festival) and the Marche du Film which is like a convention center for production companies throughout the world.
The American Pavilion (AMPAV) is the gathering place for the American industry. They host interviews with American actors, they have a restaurant, coffee bar, etc. The American Pavilion organizes student internships inside their Pavilion as well as in the Marche with foreign companies.
The other side is the business side happening in the Marche du Film which is essentially an enormous convention center for films. Every major production company from every country is in the Marche du Film promoting its newest and oldest releases, giving out information, new technologies, financing, etc. This is where I did my internship.
The Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE) is in charge of promoting Mexican films for possible investors, festivals and it is also a gathering place for all the people from the Mexican film industry. Even though I am Venezuelan coming from an American school; IMCINE chose me to do my internship because I speak Spanish, I have experience with multicultural environments and I ultimately want to become a Cinematographer. In IMCINE I could both gain and provide value.
My job consisted of greeting people at the booth and giving out pamphlets about the new productions happening at the festival, and organizing my Boss’ meetings. It sounds simple in theory, however, every person came to the booth with a different story. Some had a movie they wanted to screen in Mexico, some wanted Mexican films to screen in China, others had a movie they were shooting next year between Berlin, France, and Mexico City, etc. My past experiences in culture sharing helped me tremendously when I had to help people from all over the world with different stories and needs in the IMCINE booth, however, my limited French made it difficult for me with certain clients whose English or Spanish was not their forte. This reminded me a lot when we do tabling at cultural events for ICSP.
After a few days I got used to my job, I knew my pamphlets back and forth and I discovered a golden opportunity with my position. I realized that the more I knew about clients’ projects the better I could help them, this also gave me the opportunity to introduce myself as a Cinematographer and make connections. After the first week, I gathered close to thirty business cards from companies all over the world, I was in heaven.
In front of our booth, there was the Spanish films section of the Marche. I was sent several times by my bosses to their booth to try to “get invited” to their Spanish Film’s paella, yes that is how movies happen, at parties in festivals. I succeeded in “inviting” my bosses to their paella and I met a girl there who ended up inviting me to the Premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s new film Dolor y Gloria. As a side note, you can go to any movie with the festival’s batch; but for Premieres you have to be invited by someone who was involved in the movie, so this ticket was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I received my ticket and I had an hour and a half before the screening. I ran back to the residence as fast as I could to put on my suit and I borrowed a bow tie since the Premiere’s attire is incredibly strict: Black suit, Black shoes, White shirt and Bow tie (No ties, no exceptions).
I returned to the festival, fully dressed and got in line. Thinking that I was going to go through some “normal people’s” line to the movie theater,I saw Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar a couple of meters from me walking down the red carpet. Then I remember someone suddenly pushing me, I end up in the middle of the red carpet and all the photographers started snapping pictures. The most surreal moment of my entire life.
It is forbidden to take selfies when walking on the red carpet since it slows down the entire “walking” thing. But this was my moment, I pulled my phone and took the picture above until a security guard took my phone, and told me “No Selfies!”. He gave me the phone back and I sat down in the movie theater. But I have my selfie.
Coming from a small town in Venezuela, I began to wonder about the probabilities of someone like me possibly ending up there, at that movie theater. I tried to make sense of that moment, I had to hold back my tears. Then the movie started, and it was one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I felt like I was in a dream, watching a movie.
France feels like a daydream, and it also seemed strangely familiar. Nice is like a city designed from a poem, with the sea surrounding all the little restaurants and buildings with historical architecture. When the sun sets the sky just permeates the city with a beautiful calm charm… it made sense.
I learned pretty quickly how little French I know. This limitation also made me learn how using my smile, my hands, my English and my Spanish I was able to get by through this foreign country.
My experience at Cannes was a bit “unconventional” for what the average AMPAV student experiences in terms of networking. Usually, the biggest challenge for students is to get out of their comfort zone and meet people who they could potentially work with in the future. This was apparent in the AMPAV parties where most of my friends had a difficult time networking. They attributed producers and directors approaching me as a magical ability inherent of my long hair. I do not feel that I learned this consciously, but through all the public speaking, presentations and interviews at ICSP; I ultimately learned how to conduct myself as a professional representing an Institution (PSU). During my time in Cannes, I felt I was not only representing IMCINE but I was representing ICSP and PSU too.
Ultimately, more than the festival, the actors, and all the flashy things inherent to Cannes, I feel that the people I met there made the biggest impact on me. Because in these programs, only the ones who are dreamers decide to take such a financial leap. I’m still talking to most of my friends at AMPAV because they are not only amazing filmmakers but also amazing people too.
Here is a mini-documentary I made during my time in Cannes. I hope you enjoy!
Link to the documentary: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14znDquf1PqiUhrQhrDt_mdxVcZ0KuTno/view