SVA Alumnus Ellen Su on Her Trip to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

June 10, 2014

Spacebound, a short film Ellen Su (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) made in collaboration with Kyle Moy (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects), was accepted into the American Pavilion at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The American Pavilion was founded in 1989 to showcase American students working in film. Su traveled to Cannes for the festival and SVA Close Up invited her to share her experience.

ellensu425“The amount of people present at Cannes was pretty overwhelming. It was the first big film festival that I’ve attended and I am very lucky to have been a part of it. The festival screened both premieres and a variety of classic films. This was a great opportunity to see classics on the big screen. For our last big screening, we made it into the premiere of a re-mastered version of A Fistful of Dollars that had newly discovered outtakes at the end.

“Cannes also hosted beach screenings of old movies almost every night. We made it to a screening of Pulp Fiction where Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman and John Travolta were all present to introduce the movie. The love and energy of the crowd was really great.

“It was inspiring to be immersed in this world of filmmakers. Everyone was passionate about what they do and the talent level was incredibly high. After each screening, there was always a huge buzz of conversation. It was great to eavesdrop and hear how educated and opinionated everyone was. It was also interesting to see the different kinds of filmmakers and how their backgrounds affected their styles of filmmaking. Everyone we spoke to was very friendly and open to sharing their work, as well as to seeing ours. The Short Film Corner held an open bar event every day and it was a great chance to schmooze and booze with fellow filmmakers. You just have to take that first step and strike up conversation.

“The American Pavilion held a few panels with directors, producers and actors/actresses that were great. I attended a panel that featured Jessica Chastain, who was wonderful in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which also screened at Cannes this year. She shared her experience working with Al Pacino on Salome and how he indirectly guided her into the performance he wanted. As a filmmaker, those are the kinds of stories that I feel are really important—stories not about tools or budgets, but about how to interact with the people you work with and different ways of solving a communication problem.

“As far as Spacebound goes, I was surprised by the interest it generated and that people actually took the time to watch our short! Also, the actress that played one of my childhood heroes (Renee O’Conner) was at the American Pavilion screening. Later at the reception party she told me she liked my film. That was absolutely amazing!

“I feel like animation is only starting to break into Cannes, and I hope the trend continues. If I were to offer any advice it would be always keep your postcards and business cards at hand. Cannes opened a door to a world of filmmaking that I’ve never really experienced. It also introduced me to a global market of creators and consumers. I’d like to continue to travel all around the world and continue to learn about filmmaking. Hopefully I will be able to continue working on memorable projects and eventually a feature film!”

Other SVA films accepted into the American Pavilion by BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni include The Wild Wild Test by Jeff Bryson, 1893 by Ryan Chong and Stranded by Donia Liechti and Vicky Penzes.


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