A new campus in Cannes

Queen’s graduate embarked on an internship that took her down the red carpet.

Diana Roulan at Cannes Film Festival.
Supplied by Diana Roulan

“It literally feels like it was a dream.”

Recent Queen’s grad, Diana Roulan, ArtSci ’17, told The Journal she’s still in disbelief when she looks at photos from her time interning at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival this past May.

For two weeks in Cannes, France, Roulan got the chance to get up close and personal with the foreign film industry. Film festivals are infamous for red carpets crammed with A-list celebrities — or, in Roulan’s case, noticing that Robert Pattinson is gawkily tall.  

But despite the celebrities and scenic French streets, Roulan will tell you that her internship was not so glamourous.

She was one of 200 applicants accepted through the Creative Mind Group — an entertainment industry consulting agency that pairs interns to production companies.  

“I knew of two other Queen’s students that had done it before and their backgrounds were similar to mine so I felt I had a shot at getting it. It wasn’t 100 per cent guaranteed or anything,” Roulan said.

But after a series of essays and a short video submission, Roulan landed a position with a subdivision of Entertainment One called Seville International. Roulan worked assisting the company in selling Canadian films to the international market, helping a somewhat insular national industry gain international recognition. 

One of the films that Roulan said she got to work with directly was The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. The film features a stacked cast of Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Kathy Bates and Kit Harrington directed by Quebecois director, Xavier Dolan, in his English debut.Roulon’s position saw her networking with clients as her company facilitated distribution and marketing. 

Arriving in Europe for her first time, Roulan quickly learned that Cannes film festival wasn’t the public spectacle she always saw on TV. It was almost completely restricted to industry professionals. 

She added that Cannes contrasted with the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) because the latter will advertise and sell its premiers to the public whereas Cannes is more parochial, focusing more on members of the international film community. 

Roulan said one of the perks of interning was being granted access to these exclusive screenings — this meant rubbing elbows with studio executives and celebrities eyeing up the films.

She went to two red carpet screenings. One of them, a German film called In the Fade, was a searing portrayal of a mother whose Kurdish husband and son were murdered by a neo-nazi. Diane Kruger won Best Actress for her performance, making the film one of Cannes’ highlights.

Roulan also saw You Were Never Really Here – the film that nabbed Joaquin Phoenix the Cannes award for Best Actor and garnered an excessive 7-minute standing ovation  “It was one of my favourite films,” Roulan said.

Despite the pageantry of Cannes media coverage, she was still caught off guard by the no-frills efficiency of the red carpet.

“It really is just a two minutes thing,” Roulan said, describing the quick, guided walk.

Roulan admitted she packed her suitcase full of dressy attire only to learn that only the evening premieres have attendees showing up in traditional red-carpet garb of ball gowns and black-tie suits. In fact, she said the staff actually discourage taking any pictures.

“They usher everyone really quickly because they need to seat over 600 people in the theatres within half an hour.”

Overall, Roulan said that her experience with Cannes has affirmed her dream of going into the business side of film. The internship proved the vital role that post-production—marketing and distribution specifically—plays in a successful film.

Well, that and Robert Pattison’s height. 


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