Thanks to readers contribution, and in an update to Conflict of Interest Taints 2019 Cannes Palme d’Or Award, it has been revealed that the relationship between Cannes’ Selection Committee Wim Vanacker, the 2019 Palme d’Or winner Vassilis Kekatos, and the film’s producer, Eleni Kossyfidou, who is also the Producer of Cannes’ Jury member Panos H. Koutras, dates back to 2018, when Kekatos had invited Vanacker to serve as a Jury member in his self organized SeaNema Open Air Film Festival, along with Kossyfidou.
As detailed in Wim Vanacker, Ben Vandendaele – NISI MASA conflicts of interests, Kekatos had participated in NISI MASA with his 2018 short film “The Silence of the Dying Fish”, which was produced by Kossyfidou as well, when Vanacker served as Artistic Director of the organization. According to the 2018 news article linked below, Kekatos had invited Vanacker to serve as Jury member in a festival that he had organized and lead on Kefalonia Island, a festival which had been held for four years, but did not take place since Kekatos’ win in 2019.
Jury members for festivals typically receive payment for their service. At the very least, they are invited to the festival with personal expenses paid, with all travel and accommodation costs covered by the organizers. In other words, Kekatos allegedly compensated Vanacker, a member of the Cannes Film Festival selection committee, a full year before Kekatos’s film ‘The Distance Between Us and The Sky’ was chosen for the Cannes Official Selection, to then win the Palme d’Or under controversial circumstances, as the film’s producer had a longstanding professional relationship with one of the Jury members.
This revelation sheds additional light on the web of connections and potential conflicts of interest within the festival’s selection process, the award given to the film, and the normalization and prevalence of such relationships in the industry.
We remind our readers the case of Mélissa Malinbaum – a Cannes selection committee member who had produced a short film selected to the festival, and Dominique Welinski who holds multiple roles as well, as a producer and decision maker, in what seems like a conflict of interest at the festival and the industry at large.
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