If you look at Cassie Jaye’s official bios, you might be forgiven for thinking that the director of the upcoming Red Pill documentary had won an impressive “best documentary” prize at Cannes for her first feature-length film.
On her LinkedIn page, Jaye writes that “Daddy I Do,” her film on the abstinence-only movement, “won the Best Documentary Award at the 2010 Cannes Independent Film Festival.” She makes similar statements on YouTube and on her official site, CassieJaye.com.
Press coverage of the young filmmaker has made much of her Cannes award. In a feature on Jaye, the San Rafael Patch reported breathlessly that “Daddy I Do soon garnered immense acclaim, culminating with the Best Documentary Award at the Cannes International Film Festival.” Feminist website Bust declared that the film “has already won Best Documentary awards in several festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival.” A writer at Rumpus.net started off her interview with Jaye by congratulating her for winning “Best Documentary at Cannes.”
But if you go to the official site of the Cannes Film Festival, and look at its list of winners for 2010, you will find no mention of Daddy I Do.
Hell, you won’t find a Best Documentary winner for that year at all, because Cannes didn’t actually have a Best Documentary award.
So what’s going on? Is Jaye lying? Well, not technically.
She did win an award with the word “Cannes” in it. But it didn’t come from the official Cannes festival.
It came instead from a knockoff event, the Cannes INDEPENDENT Film Festival, that many in the film business consider an outright scam, using the Cannes name in order to profit from entry fees, much as the makers of the Spader-Man action figures above hoped to make money from confused or perhaps overly thrifty fans of the real Spiderman.
A site called CannesGuide warns filmmakers not to submit films to the faux festival, declaring that
the Cannes Independent Film Festival (CIFF) is, in our opinion, a scam. It is not connected to the Festival de Cannes, Marche du Film, or any other official festival organisation. It is a coat-tails event, run from the UK, which likely seeks to capitalise on the prestige associated with the city’s name and famous festival.
Although CIFF is a real event, we have questioned its legitimacy in the past and continue to believe that there is little or no value to filmmakers in submitting a film.
Since that was written, the “festival” seems to have vanished entirely from the world. Take a look at what its official web site looks like now. (Seriously, take a look.)
Jaye’s supporters will presumably point out that she’s never technically lied about her award or claimed that it came from the official Cannes festival. Certainly it’s not her fault that reporters make mistakes!
Except that it kind of is. Here’s a screenshot from the trailer for Daddy I Do.
Most people seeing this flash by on the screen, I suspect, will remember the giant CANNES and won’t even notice the word “independent” underneath it. Or, like the reporter for the San Rafael Patch, they’ll change the “independent” to “international” in their minds.
At the very least’s it’s a graphic seemingly designed to capitalize on the confusion between the Cannes Independent Film Festival and the real Festival de Cannes.
No, Jaye isn’t doing anything illegal here. But trumpeting an award from a phony festival as if it were a real award is not only dishonest; it’s kind of pathetic.