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Cannes, Vivendi-Canal Plus, UCLA, UCA Launch Storytelling Institute

Variety logo Variety 5/19/2017 John Hopewell

CANNES — In a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic link-up, Vivendi-Canal Plus and the Cannes Festival and Town Hall are linking with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the U.S. and France’s Cote d’Azur University to launch a groundbreaking motion picture Storytelling Institute in Cannes. 

Up-and-running from May 2018, and part of a new Cannes university campus, a flagship project of Cannes mayor David Lisnard, the Storytelling Institute will offer a graduate-level screenwriting program that aims to nurture, train and develop a new generation of outstanding and diverse screenwriters.

Welcoming in a first phase four graduate students from UCLA’s screenwriting program and another four from French universities, the Storytelling Institute’s first course will be residence-based at Cannes for six weeks, overseen by members of UCLA and UCA faculties.

The final two weeks will see students, while completing the first draft of a feature screenplay, attend the Cannes Festival, including five master classes with filmmakers who have films in the festival, and taking in the full festival experience as well.  

The course will in time be extended to students from other countries. 

Lisnard said the Institute would form one building block in a Cannes image and creative economy techno-hub. 

The Storytelling Institute’s launch comes as one of France’s largest challenges is precisely screenwriting as Vivendi makes a “massive investment” in content production, said Maxime Saada, CEO of the Canal Plus Group.

Training in an industry context such as a program supported by the Vivendi-Canal Plus Group will most probably prove to kick-start some careers.  

The trans-Atlantic initiative also aligns with cutting-edge change in the academic world where education in entertainment, as at UCLA, places emphasis on humanistic storytelling, diversity, technological innovation and social impact, Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, said at Cannes.

She went on to say that the Institute would create “meaningful and lasting partnerships between higher education and the global entertainment industry that will build a dynamic pipeline of access and opportunities into which new talent will flow, be discovered, and successfully forged for the longterm.”

Storytelling, Schwartz said, should not only “enlighten and entertain, but enlighten and engage and inspire change for a better world.”

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