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Cannes dream becomes reality for filmmaker

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France return: Bermudian filmmaker Kara Smith during her first visit to Cannes International Film Festival in 2013, which she attended for her first short, which she co-directed with her sister Karli Powell

Every budding filmmaker dreams of making it to Cannes International Film Festival.

It’s become a reality for Kara Smith.

Her short film, Blotter, was recently selected to screen at the prestigious festival on the French Riviera.

She’s looking forward to attending film premieres and parties from May 13 to 17. But the thing she’s most excited about? Connecting with other filmmakers from around the world.

Q: How did you hear your short film had been selected to screen at Cannes? What was your first reaction? Has it set in that this is real?

A: Well actually the notification process for being accepted into most film festivals is pretty unremarkable — it’s usually just an e-mail — but what an e-mail to get!

I was super excited and very proud particularly as I had worked with an awesome bunch of people to get this short film made. I was extremely happy to see that our hard work and collective effort had paid off. Getting into a film festival is an achievement in itself as they can be quite difficult to get into.

What’s the film about?

The film is a short film set in 1950s London. It details a psychoanalytic exchange between a psychiatrist and his patient whom he has given LSD. It’s a very trippy narrative and quite experimental.

Is this the first festival you’ve been accepted into outside of Bermuda? What does this opportunity mean for you?

Going to Cannes is really just an opportunity to celebrate and connect with other filmmakers. It’s a good time to maybe find others who might be interested in collaborating with you on other projects.

What are you most looking forward to at Cannes?

Oh gosh — I’m looking forward to all of it. The films, the parties, the people. My very first short, which I co-directed with my sister Karli Powell was accepted into Cannes in 2013, so I’m very happy to be going back as the sole writer/director with this film.

Karli did all the post production on this production, so she will be coming with me. I’d definitely describe her as my creative partner so I’m looking forward to being in that type of environment with her.

Are there any celebrities or filmmakers who you’d be absolutely delighted to meet?

Yes! Well this year the Coen Brothers are judging the festival and I’ve always been a fan of their cinematic sensibility — particularly how they write their scripts. And of course there will be big premieres of films that I can’t wait to see and attend.

But there will also be other creatives that are doing big things in animation, gaming, digital and online platforms who I’m interested in connecting with as those are avenues I’d like to explore with my storytelling.

Outside of all the hoopla around the awards, why do you want people to see your short film? What inspired you to write/ direct it and what do you hope people will walk away having learnt from this film?

My route into film has always been as a writer and actually that was by accident almost because I mostly thought I’d be a prose writer (and before that a journalist).

When I started to get into films it was because some of my favourite writers happened to also write films — such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker and Aduls Huxley.

And then the style of writing that I really liked is that old Hollywood style — Billy Wilder, Bill Asher, Sol Saks — those guys were writers whose styles I love. So when I decided to do a period film, I wanted to infuse that sense of nostalgic writing that you don’t get to see anymore.

I’m excited for people to view the film because it was very difficult to re-create the 1950s and I hope when people see it they’re entertained and brought back to that old-time banter. Creating the period also with very little budget was quite difficult.

Finding a location took months and then of course costume, set design. etc. I worked with a fantastic director of photography Neirin Jones, who really made the film come together.

I’d also like to give a huge thank you to the Bermuda Arts Council, who have been a tremendous support. I have them to thank in part for getting into Cannes as without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to submit an application to the selection committee.

What’s next for you as a filmmaker? Do you have any other projects you are currently working on?

Yes, I’m currently working on The Berkeley Project with Karli Powell and Lucinda Spurling, which I’m super excited about. I’ve got quite a bit of writing projects on the go at the moment — a lot of exciting conversations and meetings so hopefully I’ll be making some more announcements soon.

“Trippy narative”: Bermudian filmmaker Kara Smith on the set of her film Blotter, which has been selected to screen at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival 2015