CANNES, France — Shorts made on TikTok haven’t been seen on the massive screen within the Grand Théâtre Lumière just yet, but last week the video app was still accused of a Cannes faux pas: attempting to influence a jury’s decisions.
In March, TikTok announced that it might be an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival this yr. Thierry Frémaux, the festival’s artistic director, was quoted saying that the collaboration was “a part of a desire to diversify the audience” of the festival. Billboards that read “ceci n’est pas un film, c’est un vidéo TikTok” loom over the awnings across the road from certainly one of the essential movie theaters here.
TikTok also announced a contest for brief movies shot on its app. Although not an official festival event, the competition had a jury headed by the Cambodian-born filmmaker Rithy Panh, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime who has been an everyday presence at Cannes with movies like “The Missing Picture” and “Exile.”
But Panh quit because the jury’s president on Wednesday, he said, two days before the awards were to be given out, only to return to his role on Friday morning, hours before the awards ceremony. Panh said by email that he had quit because TikTok had “appeared to wish to influence our decision about prize winners,” and that he returned to his post when the corporate agreed to respect the jury’s verdict.
“Their world, it’s not the art world,” Panh said in an interview in a while Friday afternoon, sitting on a couch on the deck of the beachfront restaurant where he and his 4 fellow jurors had just given out the awards.
While declining to call names, Panh said some employees at TikTok had wanted to pick different winners from the jury’s short list. It was “multiple people from TikTok,” he said. “One or two were very aggressive, very stubborn, very closed minded.”
TikTok issued a press release that appeared to attribute any trouble to bizarre disagreements in choosing winners. “As with all creative competition where the collection of a winner is open to subjective interpretation, there could also be differences of artistic opinion from the independent panel of judges,” the statement said.
Even after receiving a guarantee that the jury’s selections can be honored, Panh said his first instinct was to not return to the jury. But he said he ultimately got here back for the filmmakers. Some, he added, had traveled to Cannes from as far-off as Japan or Recent Zealand. “You only can’t break their dream, you already know?”
The ceremony on Friday was hosted by the social media personality Terry LTAM, who asked the jurors about their experiences watching the shorts. The Sudanese filmmaker Basma Khalifa said the judging process modified her perspective on the platform. “I didn’t give TikTok enough credit, I don’t think, for a way much you’ll be able to do with it,” she said.
Filmmakers from 44 countries submitted movies to the competition, all between 30 seconds and three minutes in length. The highest prize was shared between two directors: Mabuta Motoki, from Japan, whose film showed a person meticulously constructing a wood tub, and Matej Rimanic, a 21-year-old Slovenian director who submitted a comedic black and white short through which two people flirt using a paper airplane. Rimanic said that working on social media platforms had sparked his desire to make movies.
“I began posting videos on Vine, then I went to Instagram after which TikTok got here around, so I began posting on TikTok,” he said in an interview shortly after he received his award, a gold-colored statuette shaped like TikTok’s logo. “Now during this transition of me posting on videos on social media, I discovered my love for filmmaking.”
It was his first time at Cannes, either to attend the festival, or to go to the town. “I hope that in the future I can come here with my feature film,” he said. “I only make comedies since the world needs more laughter.”