Thoughts on Festival De Cannes

Thoughts on Festival De Cannes

An inside look into the ever-changing festival scene and how we kept up with high demands.

Written by
Raghad Muhalhal
Translated by
September 18, 2023

The year is 2021. Cannes Film Festival is back to operating at 40% for the first time after the pandemic. By that time, I was still working with the Red Sea International Film Festival. The city was quiet, the festival was empty, and the work was minimal and slow. It gave me an opportunity to explore the festival in a more relaxed environment.

Fast forward to the year 2022. Mask mandates are officially lifted and the festival is now operating at 100%. I am now also working with Wetheloft. I’ve worked with WTL back in 2020 and 2021 during the festival’s label year (before the pandemic shut down the festival only a mere 5 days before the opening). We worked merciless hours together, staying up until 4 am working so closely that I felt a part of their team rather than just a client. Thus, when offered the opportunity to work with them I couldn’t refuse.

The RedSeaIFF team reached out to me and asked if we were interested in taking on the campaign work for Cannes Film Festival. It was the perfect opportunity for me to use my past experiences to benefit this project. We asked Farah Jouni, co-founder of WTL to join us as a creative producer on this project. And thus, Farah, Nada, and I, and our partners at Eliofilm packed our bags and were on our way to Cannes Film Festival.

2022 Festival Accreditation badge, we have finally made it

From the moment we arrived, things started to go haywire. Lost luggage, food poisoning, dehydration, and exhaustion. Through all that, we had to mentally and physically push ourselves to make sure this project was delivered with the expectations we had in mind. 

Whisked away by EMT to wrap my injured foot before rushing back to work 5 minutes after

Although we were expecting last-minute surprises due to the nature of how film festivals operate globally, we always had to be on standby mode to make sure we were two steps ahead. Everyone had to do the impossible and take on additional roles to make the work happen. The team had many ups and downs, mental breakdowns, and arguments as a result of a high-stress job. 

Behind the scenes with Summer Shesha

Eventually, we took a conscious decision to have one night to sit alone, reflect, and center ourselves to be ready to go back to work. From then on, the team was extra supportive and lifted each other. No man was left behind. We learned how to navigate and work with each other. In a more content state of mind, we all pushed each other to make the work magical. 

Team debrief with Eliofilm

One important thing to note is behind all the glamour and flashing lights are countless hours of sweat, blood, and tears. After wrapping up the shoot the weight was lifted off our shoulders and we all felt 10 pounds lighter. The result of all that work was lessons and experiences that will never be forgotten. We met important lifelong friends along the way and grew stronger as a team.

And now reflecting upon the experience, the work was worth the magic.

The team wraps up shoot at Cannes Film Festival

End credits and big thanks to:

Farah Jouni

Friends at Eliofilm

Mazin Kutbi

Oumkalthoum Sarah Bard

Ridad Alem

Qaswara Hafez

Behind the scenes with Maan Bin Abdulrahman & Yaser Bin Abdulrahman

Behind the scenes with Nour Alkhadra

The Saudi Pavillion at the International Village Market, Cannes Film Festival

Tom Cruise panel before the premiere of Top Gun