Cannes: Dream Come True For Director

Director Jayant Harnam
Facebook/Rik Sinkeldam

Even mother nature couldn't vanquish that altruistic archer "Robin Hood" from reigning supreme at the 63rd annual Festival de Cannes. The medieval hero, together with his band of merry marauders, helped kick off the 12-day festival, even as yet another cloud of volcanic ash and stormy weather threatened to disrupt the opening.

But movies with big names - Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Max von Sydow - and big budgets like this Ridley Scott movie aren't the only one getting showcased at Cannes, considered the creme de la creme of international film festivals.

Among the films debuting this year is "Life Is An Art," directed by Jayant Hanam, a self-proclaimed action-film fanatic, who grew up in Surinam and has roots in Bollywood cinema.

Photos: "Robin Hood" at Cannes
Photos: Cannes Preparations

Now living with his family in the Netherlands, he credits his father with turning him on to Hollywood films and says he instantly became a fan.

In a recent interview, I asked Hanam how his love of led him to Cannes.

Do you think your background has influenced your filmmaking style?

JH: "My father used to watch movies with me when i was just 2 years old. The first movie I watched and can remember where 'RoboCop' & 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.' My father showed me different genre movies of Hollywood & Bollywood. Most of the movies which I saw, were actually dark movies with heavy themes like 'RoboCop' and 'Bandit Queen' among others. By the time I was 8 years old, I dreamt of seeing my name on an excellent movie, credited as the director.

Is this your first big, international project?

JH: "Indeed. It's a coincidence that my first directing job is actually a big international project."

Tell us about "Life is An Art." What made you want to get involved?

JH: "Normally producers seek directors to get involved with their projects. In my case, I wrote the story and was searching for people to get involved in my project.

I initially wrote 'Life is an Art' as a 10-minute short film. Through social networking I met a producer - Rik Sinkeldam. I gave Rik the script and he responded favorably. Through him, I got in touch with Paul de Vrijer, a professional screenplay writer. Paul and I completely re-wrote 'Life is an Art' and the film evolved into a longer narrative.

"Rik read the second version of the film and was thrilled with the story. We decided to make a 2-minute teaser trailer of the script and upload it to YouTube. Through social networking, we asked our friends to participate in the film with sponsor money. They could buy credits. We received so much attention from that trailer that it was proposed we expand it into a full-length feature film. We reworked it, coming up with a whole different angle.

"The biggest change in the plot is that the mutilator The Artist, doesn't kill his victims, unlike in the previous two versions. I won't give away more than that!"

Cannes is a huge deal. Describe the feeling of debuting your film where the world is watching.

JH: "Words cannot describe how proud I am with my own achievement, that a first-time director makes a big debut at Cannes. The very thought that the film will get a full-house viewing, makes me very anxious. You keep wondering what people will think. The film screens Sunday, May 16th.

"I'm hoping along the way to meet Chris Nolan and David Fincher, who are my inspirations. I would also love to meet Shekhar Kapur. "

What is next for the film.?

JH: "We are currently in negotiation with distributors for 'Life is an Art'. After Cannes, the film is heading to major film and genre film festivals.

What's next for you?

JH: "Paul de Vrijer and I wrote together a new short film called 'Trigger.' At this moment, we're in pre-production phase. As a director, you always want to make excellent films, but sometimes excellent films won't get noticed for several reasons. With 'Trigger,' my goals are not only to direct but to be very controversial with it as well.

"The film is about how people are triggered by subliminal messages. The subliminal messages are being transmitted by big corporations and the media plays a big part in this conspiracy."