TikTok short videos is “freedom to create” without big means and the possibility of a “new visual grammar” with vertical shots: at the Cannes Film Festival, of which it has become an official partner, the social network of young people seduces filmmakers.

For the first time, the platform has launched a short film competition for creations “much more built than what (tiktokers) usually do”according to Angèle Diabang, Senegalese filmmaker, member of the #TikTokShortfilm jury who presented her awards on Friday.

Create an audience

Claudia Cochet, an assiduous tiktoker but above all an actress, won the prize for “best script” for a work of three minutes, modern princess. This 34-year-old theater board regular discovered the social network and joined its billion users during the first confinement in March 2020, when she was deprived of the stage.

“Today, I post almost one video a day, scenes from daily life that tip over into fantasy. I have 250,000 subscribers”she told AFP. “TikTok gives me freedom to create and an audience”she assures, “and it gives me confidence to do things on my own.”

For the #TikTokShortfilm, she wanted to address a serious subject, not really familiar to the audience of TikTok, who come rather to look for “fun” subjects there: violence against women.

For the very close-ups she wanted to shoot, she exceptionally dropped her smartphone and preferred a 16K camera. In the end, few words and no physical violence on screen, but many signs of unease and emotion in this story of a beaten girl who ends up committing irreparable harm to defend herself: “When you are a victim of domestic violence, you don’t dare talk about it, but you can show it…”explains Claudia Cochet.

“Freeing yourself from the weight of all these decades horizontally”

“Three minutes may seem like a short time, but we really tried to judge them as 120-minute films”explained Camille Ducellier, French director, member of the jury, during the presentation of the prizes.

The latter, more accustomed to the big screen, greatly appreciates the vertical format imposed by TikTok because “it allows you to free yourself from the weight of all these decades horizontally and therefore to reinvent a whole new visual grammar”.

For her, “this framing game not only refers to the smartphone, but also to the window, the door, and suddenly comes closer to painting”.

The origins of cinema

At the initiative of this competition, Eric Garandeau, director of TikTok France, told AFP that “several tens of thousands of creators participated in the competition“, in 44 countries. For this former president of the CNC (National Center of Cinema), TikTok returns “at the origins of cinema, at the time of ‘the minute Lumière'”.

“Today’s cinema is sometimes a little ‘obese’ and TikTok offers a shorter alternative and a more intense experience”he believes.

Echoing this analysis, one of the winners, the Slovenian Matej Rimanic (Grand Prix), plays with the codes of the first films released in theaters, with a love story in black and white, silent, where the two heroes, twenty-somethings today, send messages to each other on paper airplanes.

“Pressures” of the platform on the choices of the jury

For this first, Eric Garandeau chose a jury “with a great mix of diversity”from the TikToker star Khaby Lame (second most followed person in the world on the network) to the French-Cambodian filmmaker “very committed hardcore” Rithy Panh, president of the jury.

The latter created a stir when he resigned to denounce “pressures” of the platform on the jury’s choices, before changing his mind and resuming his place just a few hours before the winners, ensuring that “the jury (was) sovereign again”.

Friday afternoon, the platform did not allow the members of the jury to answer questions from the press after the awards ceremony.

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