By Beatriz Dedicatoria
(Editor’s note: — MTSU alumna Beatriz Dedicatoria is double major in English and video and film production with minors in journalism and honors. She graduated summa cum laude in December 2020.)
Four years ago, after several rounds of interviews, I received an email saying I was awarded an internship with the American Pavilion Worldwide Student Program at the Cannes International Film Festival, the most prestigious film festival in the world. Then, COVID-19 happened.
It was tough, and although The American Pavilion gave all 2020 participants the option to push back our participation to either 2021, 2022, or 2023, I still felt hopeless. I was a college senior, and my next steps were clear — graduate and get a job.
Since COVID-19 was still prevalent and I just started a job at TikTok, when 2021 arrived, I asked to push back my participation. Then, when 2022 came knocking at my door within what felt like seconds, and I asked to push it back again since I was just starting my writing career at a new company. Just as quickly, 2023 crept in and it was as if God and the whole world were telling me it was time. Everything lined up perfectly for me.
My current company offers unlimited paid time off, I got my tourist Schengen Visa quickly, and deep down, I felt that it was time. So, when the American Pavilion called to confirm my participation this year, I said, “Yes, I’m going.”
Getting to France was another adventure in itself. The flight from Nashville to Atlanta was smooth, but Atlanta to France? Not so much. Disembarking took longer than expected. Not only did I barely make it to my connecting flight, but that flight ended up getting canceled, which caused me to miss both the welcome party and the internship orientation. The silver lining in all the chaos was that there were 30 other interns on that flight, and we all became close friends through that shared experience.
The rebooking process and everything after was a blur. All I remembered during my last leg of the flight to Cannes was waking up to the rising sound of French chatter, blinding sunlight, colorful houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and men in suits. Lots and lots of them. It was only then that I realized that I had finally arrived in Cannes.
The festival ran for two weeks. As a social media intern, I spent four hours each day covering various events inside The American Pavilion and the rest of the Cannes Film Festival. I created sponsored and engaging posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
After my shift, I watched screenings of global films, attended different film events, and networked with people at the Marche du Film, where more than 14,000 film industry professionals from 121 countries gathered to present and discover thousands of films and projects in development.
I also experienced what it was like to attend a premiere — wearing an evening gown, walking on the red carpet with celebrities, getting my photo taken by the paparazzi, and watching the premiere at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the largest theater in Cannes. Watching a premiere is one thing, but watching a premiere with fellow film lovers and the cast and crew in the same room is a whole other experience that I can only describe as magical.
When I needed a break from the festival, I explored the city of Cannes, a lovely and quaint tourist town full of hospitable people. Another highlight of my trip was everything I ate. A few dozen restaurants, boulangeries, and patisseries line the crowded streets of Cannes. They were great, but the restaurants lining the uphill path toward the top of Cannes were the ones that stole my heart. I did my best to only eat at a place once so I could try everything, but there was one, Le 22, that I went back to twice because they served the best steak I’d ever had in my life.
To say it was an amazing experience is a complete understatement. The people I’ve met, the memories I’ve created, the films I’ve seen, and everything I’ve experienced changed me and the way I see life.
I’m extremely grateful to University Honors College Dean John Vile, Sandra Campbell, Middle Tennessee State University Honors College, Zeny Sarabia-Panol, professor Billy Pittard, Lisa McCann, and the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment for believing in me enough to award me scholarships that helped pay for the program.
I’ll forever feel blessed and honored to have been the first MTSU student to have gone to the Cannes Film Festival. Here’s to more MTSU students going to Cannes in the following years! That’s a wrap!