Two IU Student Films Selected to Screen at Cannes Festival

March 15, 2019
      Screencap from Rolling
"Rolling" / YouTube

Making an entire short film in the span of a week just seems like a worst-case scenario for procrastination. But it’s actually the name of the game for Campus Movie Fest, a traveling film festival that goes from college to college, giving students only seven days to produce, shoot and edit a short film.

Now, two such shorts from Bloomington are headed to the world stage with CMF in May as part of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in France.

“Rolling,” from co-directors Riley Dismore and Katherine Crump, and “Probie,” from director Dakota Taylor, are two of 35 CMF films that will be showcased at Cannes as part of the festival's Short Film Corner.

How are the filmmakers feeling about it?

“Oh my god, I can’t breathe ever. I’m constantly on the verge of fainting,” Dismore joked.

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Dismore’s short film, “Rolling,” follows a young woman working at a roller rink in her small town recounting a whirlwind night with her manager. But, as her story goes on, she begins to realize what happened has darker implications.

While heartbreaking, “Rolling” is also a very personal story for Dismore, who is herself a survivor of sexual assault. She was attacked in fall of 2017, and “Rolling” was made in April of 2018, so her experience was very much fresh at the time. But Dismore also used the short as an opportunity to reorient the conversation around survivors.

“We were really sick and tired of how rape and assault are shown in films. It’s not done by survivors, it’s not done by women, it’s exploitative and kind of torture porn-ish,” Dismore said. “We wanted to show why women, in certain situations, wouldn’t report or wouldn’t know exactly what happened or if what happened to her was okay or not… It’s not just, ‘I was walking in an alley and I got grabbed.’ There are so many different things that are not okay. It’s a conversation.”

Crump added that she believes the ultimate message of “Rolling” is one of believing survivors.

“As much as you hope that the things you make have some sort of impact on your audience, I think what we cared about most in the moment was telling this story about a woman we cared about while surrounded by a crew of women whom we loved,” Crump said.

“It’s not just some girl who’s holding her fist up at a march. It’s not some girl who’s crying on the news. It’s not some girl who’s in a black-and-white photo of a courtroom. She could be a girl who works at a roller rink who’s funny and not very good at skating,” Dismore said. “It’s all types of women that this happens to.”

Dismore and Crump are frequent collaborators. Apart from “Rolling,” the duo has plans to shoot a 20-minute short film this summer and are currently wrapping up a 30-minute short called “Rebel Girls.” Dismore said it’s a raunchy, twisty comedy in the same vein as 2007’s “Superbad.”

The second film from Bloomington headed to Cannes is Dakota Taylor’s firefighter drama “Probie.” It tells the story of a first responder’s first day on the job and the mental toll it can take.

Like “Rolling,” “Probie” comes from a place of personal experience. Taylor’s father was a firefighter for many years, and Taylor wanted to use his film to show people that it’s much more than three-alarm blazes affecting first responders.

“When I would go to school, kids love to come up to me and be like, ‘Your dad’s a firefighter. Is he in fires all the time?’” Taylor told WISH. “I think the thing people don’t realize is how little they do that.”

More often, first responders – especially in the Midwest – spend their days dealing with car accidents, drownings and similar incidents.

“All of these things that are really horrible that actually happen in the real world – there are men and women who are responding to that, and who go and see that every day,” Taylor told WISH.

“Rolling” and “Probie” received jury awards at their respective CMF competitions, which allowed them to apply to be part of the CMF Cannes program. Now, as CMF’s Quincy Bazen said, both teams will be accompanying their shorts to market screenings at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

“Cannes is a magical time and can be a bit of a whirlwind – between the movie premieres, workshops and celebrity panels, the opportunities are countless,” Bazen said.

When she got the email saying she made the festival, Dismore couldn’t keep her excitement to herself: “I called my mom and she and I just burst into tears.” Then she called the rest of her family. And her extended family. And a few of the directors she’s worked with in the past.

According to Crump, calling it a dream come true isn’t an exaggeration.

“I grew up in a house with two parents who had both worked in the world of filmmaking,” she said, “so festivals like Cannes have always existed in my mind as a sort of fantasy land where some of the greatest storytellers in the world congregate but was very much out of reach for me. I’m beyond grateful.”

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Bazen added that apart from the glitz of the red carpet affair, Cannes is a big career opportunity for the students.

“Cannes is very much what you make of it, but no matter what…[it’s] a learning, bonding and networking experience for these young college students,” Bazen said.

Cannes may feel like a long way away from rushing to complete a short film in a week. But it’s an opportunity for the filmmakers to represent their university and their area.

“IU’s Media School and the film program within that are very much growing and expanding but still relatively young,” Crump said. “I think the fact that two films came out of IU and are headed to a festival as respected as Cannes does a little bit of the work in proving that good stories and good art come from everywhere.”

Dismore said the festival is an opportunity to repay the university for their support after she was assaulted.

“College campuses, especially public universities that are big, are notorious for brushing survivors under the rug and protecting predators. But IU was amazing,” Dismore said. “They really made sure I was okay. I was a person first and a student second… I hope I do them justice.”

She also echoed Crump’s sentiment, saying that great films aren’t only coming from places like California and New York.

“I don’t think that the flyover states should be discounted,” Dismore said. “There are so many stories to tell all over the country, and I think the Midwest has a lot to say.”

For the full list of CMF short films heading to Cannes, you can visit the Campus Movie Fest website.