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About this series
•Sara Jackson, an IPFW student, is in Cannes, France, working at the Cannes Film Festival. She will be contributing dispatches from the festival beginning Thursday and until the completion of the festival May 24. She will also be writing an occasional blog called “Comment from Cannes” at www.journalgazette.net.
Cannes Film Festival

IPFW student at center of festival action

When I was first approached last spring about working at the Cannes Film Festival, I was a bit incredulous.

Me?

I had just completed a five-month contract working for the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, but it seemed worlds away from what is arguably the most important international film festival of the annual “festival circuit.” Being in Los Angeles at that point, working for the TCM Classic Film Festival, I figured: What could I lose? Another festival position, another amazing experience, plus a ticket to France – it turned out to be a watershed decision.

I am writing this piece from 37,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains, en route from LAX to Nice, France, where I will serve as membership director for the American Pavilion, which is the center of activity for the American film community, for the second time. This year will be a special one, given that it is the 25th anniversary of the pavilion, and we’ve undertaken some significant improvements to infrastructure.

At Cannes, the many pavilions within the International Village represent the film industries of every country (for the most part) and many are provided through funding from the respective nations’ arts or film councils. Because the United States didn’t have funding provided via public means, there was no American Pavilion – until it was first granted a place on the Croisette in 1989 as an independent business, dependent on membership dues.

During the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival, I will coordinate the day-to-day needs of the members of the American Pavilion; the closest everyday jobs that one could equate it to would be a marriage between concierge, critic and counselor.

This is perfect for me, in all honesty. Sometimes it feels as though I’ve done everything: work at Walt Disney World (a requisite if you grow up in Orlando, as I did), waitress in Manhattan, intern on Capitol Hill and serve as director of operations for a consulting firm. I have done bookkeeping, planned events, designed advertising campaigns, worked as a personal assistant, dealt with C-level executives and VIPs – it’s all in a day’s work, and all relevant when you must be comfortable with all walks of life and a variety of origins and languages at a high-profile, international event.

That being said, I’m still pursuing the completion of my bachelor’s degree in history at IPFW, so this is also just as much a departure from the ordinary for me as it will be for you to read my forthcoming dispatches. (I just completed finals last week, in advance of my classmates, in order for my schedule to accommodate the festival.)

I’m excited to be returning to Cannes and also to share with the readers of The Journal Gazette what I experience on a day-to-day basis – the good, the bad, the ugly, the famous, the infamous and more. So, if you’re just as much a pop-culture junkie as I am, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

As Bette Davis’ character so famously said in “All About Eve,” “fasten your seatbelts.”

It’s sure to be a bumpy but fabulous ride.

Sara Jackson is a Midwestern-born, Florida-raised, longtime Washington, D.C., resident. Having worked for Sundance Film Festival, TCM Classic Film Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival and the American Pavilion at Cannes, Jackson is completing a degree in history at IPFW.

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