GV students to work international film festival in France

GVL / Courtesy - Lorie Tuma
2016 Cannes Film Festival participants

Lorie Tuma

GVL / Courtesy – Lorie Tuma 2016 Cannes Film Festival participants

Ashlyn Korienek

Acting as one of the most prominent faculty-led and student sanctioned event management programs internationally, Grand Valley State University selected 16 Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) students to attend the 69th annual Festival de Cannes.

Providing the chance to coordinate events and run press panels at the American Pavilion, the festival is one way for HTM students to gain experience working with various country’s pavilions and private companies showcased at the Marché du Film.

Founded in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival is an exclusive international celebration of new films from every genre, attracting thousands of people around the globe. For 2016, the festival will span from May 11 to May 22 at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès convention center in Cannes, France.

The students departed from Grand Rapids on May 7 and return May 23.

“My goal was to immerse event management students into an international experience that would give them a cultural perspective,” said Lorie Tuma, assistant professor in the HTM department at GVSU. “The program has evolved over the past six years, expanding in size and levels of responsibility. As the industry has changed, the curriculum has changed as well.”

In 2010, Tuma created the Cannes Film Festival International trip while she was an instructor at Central Michigan University.

During the selection process, students were interviewed in accordance with the American Pavilion, which acts as the center of activity at the Cannes Film Festival. Tuma said those who passed the first round continued on with training and preparatory work.

“For me, the best part is seeing the transition my students make during their time in Cannes,” Tuma said. “They get on the airplane in Michigan as young people with varied and limited experiences, and when they return home, they are mature, cultured professionals. I truly believe this experience is magical.”

Amanda Baarman, GVSU student in the HTM program, was selected last year to experience GVSU’s 2015 Cannes Film Festival trip. For Baarman, the most prominent challenge during the trip was moving past communication barriers and becoming more accustomed to French culture.

“This was my first time in Europe and I was timid about traveling with the communication barrier,” she said. “There were so many opportunities at festival, but it was up to us to make those opportunities happen.”

Returning from Cannes a more confident leader, Baarman said the most memorable experiences included events hosted by the American Pavilion, the Kering Foundation, the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic and even a yacht party.

“The whole festival was an amazing experience,” she said. “The friendships I gained, the professional event planning experiences and being able to experience the French culture were all incredible. I think that I grew professionally and personally.”

According to Tuma, the cost of attendance is around $6,000 to $7,000. In addition, the trip is entirely student funded.

As last-minute events are often planned, she said students reside in apartments about five blocks away from the Palais convention center allowing for easy travel to the festival.

“The city of Cannes is very small, but within two to three days it transforms into a glamorous epicenter filled with celebrities, movie stars and paparazzi,” Tuma said. “In addition, many people associated with the film industry come to Cannes from other countries, so the students are not only experiencing French culture.

“Other than providing students with the international component and hands on industry experience, I think Cannes changes the way they see the world, and their place in it.”