At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Chiefs will face a new romance from May to December: 6-year-old TikTok joined the esteemed festival, now celebrating its 75th anniversary.
How has Cannes, which, in years past, banned social media posts of its famous red carpet steps, now welcomes TikTok as one of its elite sponsors? For the festival, the partnership aims to propel Cannes into the 21st century, giving it high-tech glamor and ideally appealing to young film fans. For TikTok, which has more than a billion monthly users worldwide, the pairing with the Cannes Film Festival is an effort to show filmmakers that the app is more than just a place for teens to lip-sync with the ultimate viral dance frenzy.
According to the president of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, the TikTok collaboration is part of the festival’s desire to diversify its audience. “We look forward to sharing the most exciting and inspiring moments from the festival and seeing the festival reimagined through the lens of creators and the TikTok community,” he says.
The 2022 Cannes Film Festival, scheduled for May 17-28, will provide TikTok users with exclusive live content from the red carpets, as well as behind-the-scenes moments and talent interviews. All will be presented through the official @festivaldecannes account on TikTok.
In addition, the partners created #TikTokShortFilm, a global competition that invites established filmmakers and emerging creators to submit original ultra-short videos between 30 seconds and three minutes in length. The winners of the three categories, selected by the jury, will receive a cash prize and a trip to the festival. The grand prize winner will receive €10,000 ($10,500), and the script and editorial winners will receive €5,000 ($5,250).
“The festival is an absolutely creative event and they have never had a partner on a digital platform,” says Rich Waterworth, managing director of TikTok Europe. “We are very proud to be part of this. It’s an amazing time for TikTok.”
However, there seems to be a disconnect between the arthouse worlds and TikTok, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, with a maximum video length of 10 minutes (after recently expanding from a maximum of three minutes).
Where exactly does the Venn diagram intersect? Waterworth, a London-based former YouTube marketing executive, argues that there is in fact a strong connection between the Cannes Film Festival and TikTok. Both are dedicated to providing platforms for authentic creative expression for passionate storytellers, he says. And there is already a huge film community on TikTok, dubbed “#filmtok,” with film-related content on the app that has garnered over 4 billion views so far.
“It was a very natural conversation,” says Waterworth of the association with Cannes. “It reinforces our commitment to creativity and the creative industries both inside and outside of TikTok.”
Waterworth continues: “There is a community of very talented filmmakers who use TikTok as a canvas to tell stories.” He has called out two famous creators, romanlolo and americanbaron, who have gained a following for their original short films on the app.
TikTok is increasingly working with movie studios and other film festivals in partnerships. The Cannes Film Festival deal, under which TikTok pays for its sponsorship, is an extension of that business, according to Waterworth. For example, TikTok has collaborated with Warner Bros. for the theatrical release of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” in France, with co-stars Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet on the red carpet. He also did a worldwide campaign with Sony Pictures for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
The Cannes-TikTok partnership will also include a variety of challenges that will be launched during the festival. Waterworth says these will be “broad-based” tied to the films premiering at the festival, as well as talent. TikTok is also developing augmented reality effects for festivals that users will be able to incorporate into their videos.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to motivate this community on TikTok to be more creative,” says Waterworth.
While TikTok is the first digital media app registered as a sponsor of Cannes, the festival has long had promotional associations with luxury and lifestyle brands. For example, L’Oréal Paris returns for the 25th consecutive year as Principal Partner, along with Air France, BMW, Chopard, France Télévisions, Kering and digital media company Brut.
In keeping with the traditional format of the Cannes Awards, TikTok has assembled a diverse and international jury to select the winners for its inaugural #TikTokShortFilm program. The international jury is chaired by Rithy Banh, whose films are regularly screened at Cannes, Berlin and other major festivals. She together with Basma Khalifa, the Sudanese multidisciplinary creator. Camille Dussellier, artist and director of “Bachee Bouzouk”; Angel Diabang, screenwriter and producer of “Un air de kora”; and Khaby Lame, the Senegalese-born TikToker who is one of the app’s most popular creators, with 137 million followers. The jury was largely made up of Eric Garandou, former president of France’s National Film Council (CNC), who is now TikTok’s head of public affairs in France.
The festival will be attended by TikTok CEOs, including Waterworth, and sponsorship of the app will be promoted throughout the event. TikTok is also running a large-scale marketing campaign across France to celebrate the partnership, as well as movie- and storytelling-related content, which will also be shared on the app.
“There is a direct line between the origins of cinema and TikTok,” says Waterworth. Connective tissue is about two things: fandom and creativity… It’s about finding ways to empower the TikTok community to give them access to the best minds and film talent from around the world.”