It is regarded as the “Super Bowl” of film festivals – the one every person in the movie industry targets as a goal.
At 32 years old, Darcy Turenne is right on target.
The Highland Secondary alumna (2002 grad) who grew up in the Comox Valley and later became a professional mountain biker traded in her wheels for reels four year ago.
Now she is heading to one of the biggest events of the film industry – the Cannes Film Festival.
“It’s kind of a dream I have had in the back of my mind for a while, and now it’s happened,” said Turenne, a freelance, independent filmmaker, now living in Vancouver. “I’ve been to France a few times, but never been to a film festival of this prestige. Everyone knows about Cannes.”
Her documentary, Jackieland, is one of the films being shown at the festival this month.
The Cannes Film Festival opened May 11 and runs until May 22.
Jackieland is one of the feature films in the Cannes Short Film Corner.
“It is about a woman (Jackie Cooke) who is a dump manager in Westwold, B.C.,” explained Turenne. “It’s about her life and her perspective on the world. She runs the landfill in Westwold, but she is a hoarder. She collects material from the landfill and gives them to people who need them – to charities, and poor people around town. So she is a philanthropic hoarder.”
Turenne, who directed, shot and edited the film, said she new she had something special from the time she started working on it.
“As soon as I saw Jackie … I knew it should happen, and the first thing I thought is this is my film to go to Cannes,” said Turenne, on the eve of her flight to France. “It was kind of a pipe dream at the same time, though. I didn’t think it could actually happen. So I submitted it, and sent in my 85 euros and thought that might be the end of my 85 euros. But they emailed me within a couple of days, before the deadline had even passed, and said that they wanted my film. So that was exciting.”
Most of Turenne’s acquaintances from her high school days would be surprised to hear her career path.
Turenne admits filmmaking was not even on her radar in her teens, or even throughout her post-secondary.
She was lauded throughout her school years as an extraordinary athlete, and became a professional mountain biker. It was only during her thesis preparation that she discovered her talent behind the lens.
“I have a masters degree in intercultural communications,” she said. “I got into films, through doing my master’s – my thesis was a documentary. As soon as I made that film, I kind of knew that filmmaking was what I wanted to do.
“I was a professional mountain biker for 10 years and I was doing my master’s during an injury. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after my mountain biking career ended, so it all just kind of fell into place. I feel really lucky because of that. So many people, after their athletic careers, are kind of on a career quest for quite some time.”
Though completely different paths on the surface, Turenne said there are striking similarities between being a professional athlete and a film director.
“It’s super similar,” she said. “I had this fear after mountain biking that I would never get that adrenaline rush or that real challenge again. You have to be so on top of things and so in the moment when you are mountain biking. And filmmaking is the exact same – even more so. So I feel like this parallels perfectly. I am still travelling the world, doing something I love and having to work under pressure.
Being featured at the Cannes Film Festival can be a launching pad for directors. It’s where the likes of Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, 1994) and Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape, 1989) first received mass exposure.
Turenne is taking the accomplishment in stride.
“I guess that’s yet to be determined, how important this will be to my carer, but it definitely gets a goal checked off my to-do list in my lifetime,” said Turenne, who will be attending the Cannes Film Festival with Feet Banks, the film’s producer. “It feels really amazing to reach that far out, and have something happen. I didn’t think that this early in my career I would have the opportunity to go to Cannes. So I really hope that I meet a lot of people and it advances my career, but I am pretty happy where I am at. I have no expectations. I am just really happy to have the opportunity.”
To see a trailer of the film, visit jackielandmovie.com (language warning).