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Farewell to Cannes: Diversity at Cannes Film Festival

Reggie Cummings - January 2, 2019 - 0 comments

Black Travel Movement founder Reggie Cummings on the train leaving Cannes, France

I boarded the train, spotted an open single seat, and sat down to pen my First Class Chronicles, Farewell to Cannes. I was leaving Cannes not having sold my film but pretty satisfied with the connections I made and a chance to build on those connections.

And then this happened…

French dude approaches and says, “Je suis désolé monsieur, vous êtes assis dans mon siege.”

Translation: I’m sorry sir you are sitting in my seat.

I collect my things and move to my assigned seat. My seatmate is reading and appears pensive, unbothered by my intrusion. After a while, I introduce myself to her. Her name is Muriel.

Muriel: Were you in Cannes for the film festival?

Reggie: Yes, I was.

I use that as a segue to start talking about my various film projects. First, In the Spotlight, then Yesterday, then Code Switch. I save the BTM Travel Documentary for last.

I start by telling her about how I founded Black Travel Movement. I go on to tell her about the narrative arc of the film and my vision for the documentary project. I end by saying what I always say… “and I am going to sell it to Netflix for $10M.”

And Muriel says, “I can help you with that. I know all of the right people at Netflix.”

Hold my mule.

Me: So what exactly is it that you do in the movie industry?

Muriel: I work in film financing.

Look at God!

Muriel: I did the financing for A Long Walk to Freedom, the Nelson Mandela story, and for King, the MLK Movie with David Ayelowe.

Now, I am sure that Muriel has also done financing deals for a bunch of white films but wanted to impress me with her contributions to films that have an appeal to black audiences.

Muriel and I talk a bit more about her work and career. We exchange business cards and promise to follow up. She is fascinated by BTM and wants to hear more. So, I indulge her.

I changed the subject by asking her a question about diversity at Cannes. I say to her that, “as a black filmmaker I feel a responsibility and calling to be a part of the conversation to effect some changes.”

She tells me that her former assistant works in diversity and has led the initiative to implement some diversity strategies for the Berlin Film Festival. She should also put me in touch with him.

Won’t he do it!

I ask if we can take a quick selfie and then we go back to working on our laptops. After a few minutes, I close mine in frustration and quip, “the wifi on this train sucks.”

Muriel: I am using my phone as a hotspot. You can too if you like.

I tell Muriel that every day I pick a favorite person on the planet and today she is my favorite person. I connect to her Wi-Fi and begin typing this story.

God loves you too, but I am his favorite.


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