06/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Short Is Cool in Cannes

Auteur: a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production gives a film its personal and unique stamp. (source: here)

I've always loved auteur films, the personal, cinematic visions that open up the world in new ways. For film lovers, the most exciting discovery has always been the new auteur, the young filmmaker with something to prove, who creates a work so unique it could not possibly be made by anyone else. With this in mind, my company, The Auteurs, partnered with Pure Digital Technologies, makers of the Flip Video camcorder, and Short Film Corner, Festival de Cannes, to celebrate a new kind of auteur in a new kind of way -- the auteur on the fly, or in this case, on the Flip. The result: Cannes a la Flip Competition.

New developments in the technology of filmmaking have democratized the tools for making films. No longer does a director need a large crew, expensive equipment, and traditional theatrical or home video distribution to share their vision with the world. Today, it is possible for a lone director to claim the status of auteur with a consumer-grade digital camera, a laptop, and a web site to exhibit their work. So, we organized a competition to challenge directors to create a short film during the span of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival using a Flip Video camcorder. This is digital filmmaking at its purest -- inspiration on the fly, films made fast, cheap, and running on the energy and artistry of their directors.

To create this new-media-meets-film-community event, we were sponsored by Facebook, Celluloid Dreams, and HP. This brought into play not only our new online venue -- The Auteurs' online movie theater -- but also gave young auteurs cutting edge filmmaking and social networking technology to create and share their works. We gave out 250 Flip Video cameras to up-and-coming directors from around the world who had films in this year's Short Film Corner, with the only rules being to shoot their film at the festival in a super-fast seven days and keep the final work three minutes max. We threw down the gauntlet but the filmmakers more than picked it up -- they ran with it. We thought we were pretty excited about all this, but the response was overwhelming. By the end of the week, more than 100 short films were shot, edited, and uploaded to the online contest.

With so many wonderful submissions, the challenge was to narrow the shorts down to the very best, but luckily we attracted the very best judges. A jury chaired by Hengameh Panahi, Founder and President of Celluloid Dreams, determined the top three films. The esteemed jury included the directors and programmers of top film festivals from around the world: Piers Handling (Director, Toronto International Film Festival), Enrico Magrelli (Program Director, Venice Film Festival), Richard Pena (Program Director, New York Film Festival), Wieland Speck (Chief Programmer and Director, Berlin International Film Festival), Frederic Maire (Artistic Director, Locarno International Film Festival), Mikel Olaciregui (San Sebastian International Film Festival), Georgieo Gossetti (Director, Rome Film Festival), Eva Zaoralová (Artistic Director, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival), Paula Astorga Riestra (Director, Mexico City International Film Festival), and Leon Cakoff (Director, São Paulo International Film Festival).

The top awards went to three films: the grand prize to The Flip Trip, and with second and third place given to The Mario Valdez Story and Rainy Girl. The award ceremony was held in the heart of the Cannes Short Film Corner, where the top three films and two special mentions were screened publicly before the avid contestants. What is even more exciting is that the contest did not end there. All submitted entries can be viewed at the official competition page at The Auteurs. The award winning films and pictures from the entire week can also be viewed at the Short Film Corner page on Facebook, which is exhibiting the top twenty finalists and the award winners.

Getting young filmmakers excited to face the technical challenges of this rapidly changing industry was spectacular. Getting rid of the expense and hassle of big-budget financing and conservative, traditional distribution, the Cannes Flip Competition was happy to provide a new and alternative outlet for young filmmakers looking to make their personal stamp on the world of cinema. Stay tuned for the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, the Flip Competition was simply too much fun and too popular to hold only once!