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‘I Cannes’ Diaries

A personal account of a True Star member’s film debut in France

True Star participant Avery Kelley poses during the 2024 Diversity In Cannes Film Festival where her short film was featured.

Dear Diary,

One of my biggest dreams came true this year. If you went back in time and told the younger version of me, “At 16-years old, your film will screen during the largest film festival in the WORLD,” I would have called you mad. Insane even. I never thought I could accomplish anything like that.

But guess what? I CANNES. (Get the pun?)

Last year, I participated in the Black Girls Film Camp 2023 cohort. Black Girls Film Camp is a 16-week program that selects 10 Black girls from across the globe to write and direct their own six-minute short film, highlighting a Black girl as the protagonist. The program provides you with an AMAZING team, including an editor, a production coach (who serves as a producer for the film), and an alumni coach. During my time within the cohort, I created my short film “The All Aroundz,” a story following the journey of two 40-year-old frenemies, who reconnect through a tragedy, and get their old double dutch team back together.

After successfully completing the program, I began to enter the short into a variety of festivals, local, national, and international. But the last thing I expected was for my film to reach across the Atlantic!

In May, my film was selected for the 2024 Diversity In Cannes Film Festival. Just wrapping up its 15th year, the Diversity In Cannes Film Festival was established with the mission to amplify and encourage underrepresented and marginalized stories in front of a GLOBAL audience, being screened during the world-famous Cannes Film Festival. I was (and forever will be) honored and so incredibly grateful. But my biggest question was…

How the heck am I going to get to France?!

But thanks to my village, I was able to make it. And I had the trip of a lifetime.

My mom and I stayed at a hotel with balcony views of the Mediterranean Sea, in the lovely Nice Côte de Azur. The views were so breathtaking, even pictures couldn’t capture the beauty! The streets were bustling, with markets in the day, music at night, and perfect weather at almost all times! Cannes was only a quick train ride away, with the station being a light 10-minute walk.

Our week in the festival began with the 2024 Black Womxn Cannes Luncheon. This mixer provided a space for Black female and non-gender conforming filmmakers and entertainment industry professionals to network. With great food and even greater views, I had the opportunity to meet so many people who looked like me from all different walks of life. I gained so much knowledge, and walked away feeling so empowered. I made a variety of new connections, and even got to see some familiar faces!

Avery’s red carpet moment.

Next up, we had the annual “Diversity Day”. A day filled with film screenings, panel discussions, Q&A’s and collaborations. Throughout the day, films curated from creators across the world were screened. Over the course of three film blocks, filmmakers were able to showcase their projects and network with others to build a stronger community. There was also a fantastic panel discussion on festivals and film programs, which helped me begin thinking about the next steps in my journey.

After a day of relaxation and tourism, it was finally the day!! The screening of my film “The All Aroundz”! My film was granted the opportunity to be a part of the Black Women Cannes event in screening in the Cannes “Marché Du Film” Pavillion. Alongside industry veteran Felicia D. Henderson screening her short film “The Rebel Girls,” my film screened in the Cannes Film Festival in Theater F alongside six other wonderful filmmakers.

When getting in the festival, I was BEYOND stunned! I knew the festival was huge but I was at a loss for words when I saw it in person. There were people from all walks of life, and so many international films screening in a variety of different places. Not to mention the panels and workshops, hosted by ICONIC industry professionals. And the red carpet?! Don’t get me started.

To end off the trip, I had the chance to walk the red carpet and it was a DREAM COME TRUE. Don’t worry, pictures will be coming soon!

If there is one thing this trip taught me, it is that I Cannes do anything. Make sure to go after your dream.

 

By Avery Kelley

Instagram: @askaveryk / Twitter: @averykels

 

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Written by Avery Kelley

just a girl from chi who creates things for a living!

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