AFI’s Pippa Bianco Wins Cannes Cinefondation with ‘Share’

“Share” Stars ‘American Horror Story’s” Taissa Farmiga

Pippa Bianco Share Cinefoundation Cannes
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

CANNES – A woman has topped a competition at this year’s Cannes, and with a stirring woman’s drama to boot. “Share,” a short from American Pippa Bianco, a student at AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, took the top prize Friday at the Cannes’ Cinefondation Selection, the world’s highest-profile film school student competition.

Also written by Bianco, and short by Cinefondation standards: Only 11 minutes – produced by Tyler Byrne, Carly Hugo and Danielle Oexmann stars Taissa Farmiga (“American Horror Story”) as a 15-year-old girl going back to school after someone shares an explicit video of her on the Internet. ”We tried to be very respectful, not sensationalist, in the telling of the story,” Bianco commented, adding she was working on a feature adaptation of “Share.” Bianco won €15,000.More crucially, her first feature is ensured a Cannes Official Selection berth.

Chile’s Ignacio Juricic Merillan, a student at the film and TV faculty of the Universidad de Chile, took the Selection second prize, for “Lost Queens,” about a Rodrigo, an 18-year-old who’s arrested in a televised raid of a club where he works as a drag queen, and fears his family will see him on TV.

Accepting the award, Merillan said that he couldn’t accept the award without mentioning the people he’d made the film for, “the LGBTQ community. While we are here and very happy, among beautiful people, there are still people being murdered on the streets in Chile and I think that’s the reality of other countries too.”

Cinefondation Selection’s third prize went ex-aequo to Russian Maria Guskova, a student at Russia’s Screenwriters and Film Directors High Courses, and Ian Garrido Lopez at Barcelona’s Escac, most probably Spain’s best-known film school.

The Cinefondation is about individual talent, said its jury president Abderrahmane Sissako, director of the Academy Award-nominated “Timbuktu,” which swept France’s Cesar’s this year. That said, “Victor,” whose prize announcement received the biggest applause of the night, comments – like “Lost Queens” and “Share” – on contemporary society, here in the case of a girl, Mari (newcomer Alba Martinez), who lives in a fishing village in southern Spain, but lives in Madrid as a man, Victor.

“Erkin” turns on a man who, getting out of jail, seeks forgiveness from the father of the man he accidently killed.

Gilles Jacob, Cinefondation president, introduced the Cinefondation Selection awards delivering five brief tips to filmmakers. The last was to forget the first four pieces of advice and be oneself.

Beyond Sissako, the Cinefondation jury was made up of a key member of France’s exciting generation of distaff directors, Rebecca Zlotowski, as well as the Lebanon’s Joanna Hadjithomas, Belgian actress Cecile de France, and Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski.

The 18 film students were chosen from 1,593 candidates from 381 schools. The key to the Cinefondation is the selection, said Sissako, saying that the Jury never had the feeling it was seeing school films.

Talking to Variety about films schools, he added: “I don’t think film students nor film schools have changed that much, but what has changed in cinema is the ensemble of its context.”

Film school films are a first step, where students learn to make films in a group, about team energy, said Sissako. But some of their lessons are for life. At school, her learnt to think that you haven’t learnt everything yet, you’re not yet a filmmaker.” Even now, after “Timbuktu,” “every film is a still a re-beginning,” he added.