Eric Bai
Eric Bai

Eric Bai

How I got into Cannes Film Festival, and how you can too!

Photo by Zhifei Zhou on Unsplash

How I got into Cannes Film Festival, and how you can too!

Eric Bai's photo
Eric Bai
·Mar 7, 2022·

5 min read

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Cannes Film Festival is widely regarded as the most prestigious film festival in the world. It’s commonly where the year’s most critically acclaimed movies have their world premiere, making it a major incubator of hype for the films that end up winning big during awards season. The festival is invitation-only, primarily for folks in the industry and press. There are ways to attend without industry connections, and the best way, if you can qualify, is the “Three Days in Cannes” program. In this post, I'll share how I got accredited for this program.

The “Three Days in Cannes” program is only for those aged 18-28 years old. The program gets you into more exclusive films than the "Cannes Cinéphiles" program, the only other option for film enthusiasts. The only downside is that you're only able to attend for three days (the full festival is two weeks). For most though, three days is plenty. Especially with the hotel costs in Cannes!

The application requires writing a letter of motivation to demonstrate your passion for film and explain why you wish to attend. There is also a 20 euro fee that you pay during applying, but it will be refunded if you are rejected or choose not to attend.

For 2022, the application deadline is April 15. You should apply as soon as possible though, because they accept requests as they come in, and can run out of spots. I applied and got my acceptance within a few days! Click here to apply.

This year will be my first time attending, so I can’t speak to what the experience is like. They have run the program in past years, so there's many blog posts you can search for to get an idea.

To help out those considering applying, you can read my letter of motivation. In general, I recommend describing how you dedicate your time to film as a hobby, and why the art-form is important to you.


To Whom It May Concern,

Long before “cinephile” felt like part of my identity, I spent my youth’s summers going to the library to borrow old DVDs by the dozens. It was not a conscious choice to indulge in decades of cinema. It was, in my mind, just the most natural way for a child to pass the time. I had sometimes wondered if classics like Apocalypse Now or Dr. Strangelove were wasted on my pre-teen self, with much of them going over my head — but today, I know an early love for film has enriched my life endlessly.

As such, an accreditation to the “Three Days in Cannes” program would be a longstanding dream come true. I am a 26 year-old software engineer at a large tech company, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo — so this dream to attend Cannes Film Festival is completely unrelated to my career goals. Rather, it is a deeply personal goal, as a lover of the arts, to participate in your event that brings together the world’s finest storytellers.

As an adult with a demanding full-time job, I can no longer binge movies from the library all day. Nonetheless, I still dedicate a large amount of time to film. I am a regular attendee at festivals like Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival and Sundance. I keep a personal journal where I write reflections on every new movie I watch, and I share my favorites on my blog. Here are some of them:

I love how writing reflections allows me to engage with films on a deeper level. In one of my essays, Midsommar and The Farewell: Bringing Eastern Values to Western Film”, I describe how the 2019 films both contrast eastern and western values through grief. The protagonists change so much throughout the two stories, and allowed me to feel a seed of growth as well. I feel grateful for how films help me reflect not only on my personal experiences, but also the experiences of those totally different from me.

On top of cinema’s ability to help me self-reflect, movies have also provided me with a valuable community. I have made new friends through sharing my blog posts, and deepened friendships through going to the movies together. As my way of giving back to the cinephile community, I used my software engineering skills to create an endless movie trivia game called Connect the Stars, which I released for free. After sharing it with my friends, it became a small hit. Friends of friends have reached out to me about how they became hooked. Twitch streamers played it for their large audiences. The screenwriter John August (of films such as Big Fish and Corpse Bride) recommended it to readers of his newsletter. This engagement with the community has been incredibly rewarding, and I believe attending Cannes can help me foster even more connections.

Last year, I read Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. There is one part of the book that often comes back to me: Lumet describes how crucial it is that everyone in the production is “making the same movie”. That really distills what I love about movies. A singular creative vision brings together professionals of such varied skills — directing, screenwriting, acting, cinematography,, editing, lighting, sound mixing, costuming, set production, and so on — to collaborate and make something beautiful.

And so, to participate at Cannes, at the forefront of these collaborations, would be a privilege and honor.

Sincerely,

Eric Bai