CANNES — “Paul Is Here,” from Costa Rica’s Valentina Maurel, a student at Belgium’s Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion (INSAS), snagged the First Jury Prize Friday at Cannes Cinefondation on Friday.
Crucially, the First Jury Prize guarantees Maurel presentation of her first feature at the Cannes Festival – a large leg-up when it comes to getting that film made.
The prize was awarded by a jury headed by Romanian 2007 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days”). Also on the jury: French actress Clotilde Hesme (“Chocolat”), Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari (“Chevalier”), “Moonlight’s” Barry Jenkins and pioneering Singaporean helmer Eric Khoo (“In the Room”).
“A study of a relationship in crisis, which has complications, which I hope will touch spectators,” Maurel said. her short turns on a girl whose life is turned upside down by the return of Paul. an old flame, who moves in for a few days, though why he’s back isn’t very clear.
Maurel faced multitudinous competition: An effective annual world cup of film school shorts, “Paul Is Here” won out over 2,600 other works submitted by 626 film schools around the world. These were whittled down a 16 title Cinefondation showcase at Cannes.
Cinefondation’s Second Jury Prize went to “Heyvan,” (AniMal), written and directed by Bahram and Bahman Ark, students at the Iranian National School of Cinema. Capturing the indignities of migration, it turns on a man who attempts to cross a frontier disguised as a ram.
Third Prize went to “Deux Egares Sont Morts” (Two Youths Died), from Tommaso Usberti, a student at Paris’ celebrated La Femis school. “A cross between a news item and fiction story,” said Usberti, “Two Youths Died” is told from two points-of-view and set in some wild rural backwater, where two young lovers who meet at night are surprised by the girl’s father.
The prizes carry cash grants of €15,000 ($16,350), €11,250 ($12,262) and €7,500 ($8,175).
Winning films will be screened at the Cinema du Panthéon in Paris on May 30. All the films in the Cinefondation selection will play at the Cinematheque Française on May 31 and June 1.