Griffith grads take Cannes by storm

Eight student films from Griffith Film School will screen at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year.

Hiraeth – which explores the aftermath of a death in the family – will have its official premiere at the Festival.

Writer and director Katherine Chediak Puttnam says she’s excited to see her work screened for a global audience.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to show my film at Cannes – it is one of the world’s biggest film festivals,” she says.

“Ultimately as a filmmaker, you want as many people as possible to watch what you’ve done – I love the idea of people from all over the world enjoying it.”


Katherine has just completed two short films as part of the Master of Screen Production at Griffith Film School and is now embarking on a PhD.

Originally from Brazil, she worked as a film editor for almost a decade before travelling halfway across the world to study at Griffith Film School.

“The Masters programme here is really unique – you are given the support and guidance to develop as an artist and make the best films you can,” she says.

“All of the people here have a true passion for cinema.”

‘Cannes was an eye-opener’

Rob Corless is showing his animated film Furu Ike (Ancient Pond) at Cannes.

The film was made as part of his Honours year and follows a young girl’s encounter with a water spirit after she ventures into a storm drain to retrieve her precious origami crane.

Rob describes the short animated film as “a meditation on storytelling”, and says it was inspired by his travels in Japan.

“Japanese art is a big influence on my work, and I was fascinated on my recent trip over there to see how the Japanese aesthetic influences the way they live,” he says.

“I was also really interested in the philosophies like Shinto and animism, where objects take on their own spiritual life.”

Rob is a Cannes veteran, after screening his short film Samuel of the Sea at last year’s festival. He says attending Cannes was “an eye-opener”.

“I learnt a lot – I think the first day or two I was just wandering around wide-eyed!

“It was my first festival experience, and a chance to see how the industry works.

“It really changed my point of view – I realised that it was more attainable than I’d thought.

“It made me realise that people were appreciating my work, and it gave me the confidence to submit it to other festivals.”

Rob admits the screening of his film at Cannes was “nerve-wracking”.

“You want to get as many people into the screenings as possible, and we had a packed cinema.

“It was fantastic to see people enjoying the film and responding to it – but a little terrifying at the same time.”

Currently tutoring at GFS, he is working on his first animated feature film, and passing on his knowledge to other young filmmakers.

“Griffith Film School have been such a great support, and very encouraging,” he says.

“It is nice to be able to give something back.”

Industry connections

Griffith is the only Australian film school to have a dedicated screening at the prestigious Festival and this trip marks the eighth year students have been offered the invaluable opportunity, says Professor Trish FitzSimons.

“It is the ideal opportunity for the next generation of filmmakers to make industry connections that may launch their international career,” she says.

“We give students all the support they need to attend – we send their films, organise their artwork, provide all the documentation and prepare them for the festival experience.

“Being at Cannes is intense, but it is an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.”

Each film from Griffith will be screened at the Cannes Court Metrage, a showcase for short films designed to encourage emerging talent. It features more than 2,000 films from 90 countries worldwide.

The 70th Cannes Film Festival runs from 17 – 28 May.

The full list of Griffith Film School films screening this year include:

Double – Siobhan Domingo, Monique Smith

Furu Ike – Rob Corless

The Toll – Lachlan Pendragon

Wolfe – Claire Randall, Shannen Tunnicliffe

Red Kite – Susanna van Aswegen, Brock Taffe

Greb – Naomi Scutts, Kate Doroshenko

Luminous – Alex Greaves, Shay-Lee Smith, Chelsea Lahra

Hiareth – Katherine Chediak Putnam, Dean Law