Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CMU students starred at Cannes

AP file photo: From left, president of the jury Robert De Niro, jury members Uma Thurman and Jude Law at the 64th international film festival May 11 in Cannes, southern France.

The Central Michigan University students working at the American Pavillion at Cannes included: Front, left to right: Krysten Cole (Saginaw), Laura Rynbrand (Kentwood), Lauren Rimmell (Rochester), Lorie Tuma (CMU Faculty); second row: Jennifer Bettinger (Macomb) Dawn Marentay (Jackson), Tara Clark (Rockford), Allison Chludzinski (Livonia), Monica Barlage (Detroit); back row: Neil Lamoureaux (Dearborn Heights), Ann McQueen (Northville), Kaity Jerolamon (Clarkston), Maggie Oldenburg (Clare), John Powell (Watersmeet); missing:  Danielle Leist (Plymouth-Canton)

The success of this year's Festival De Cannes in France was due in part to 14 students from Central Michigan University.

The students, minoring in event management at the Mount Pleasant university worked at the American Pavillion, which serves as the communication and hospitality center for Americans in Cannes during the May 11-22 festival. 

"This is the first time traditionally they've had event management minors," said Tracy Burton, CMU marketing and outreach coordinator for the College of Education and Human Services. "The group is primarily juniors and seniors. They paid for the trip, but the faculty center for innovative teaching picked up the cost for all of the students to have iPads so they could tap into the social networking sources during their trip."

CMU faculty leader Lorie Tuma who traveled with the group to Cannes said the students worked behind the scenes during the entire festival enabling them to gain the kind of invaluable experience for their future careers. Students (seniors especially) were provided an extraordinary opportunity for networking since their duties at Cannes involved working alongside the staff of actor and director Robert De Niro. He served on the festival's jury panel for feature films along with fellow actors Uma Thurman and Jude Law. 

"I truly have gained a new sense of self and possibly have landed my dream internship with the Sundance International Film Festival," said Jennifer Bettinger, a CMU junior and the daughter of Starr and Daniel Hickey of Macomb Township.

Bettinger's duties at the American Pavillion included making sure that the VIP tables were stocked and that the panel guests wanted for nothing. "I worked with four other students. We all had the same jobs in the beginning, but by the second day... I sort of started organizing everything... By the last day my boss was telling people to come to me because I was the boss... It was pretty great."

The young Americans worked for De Niro's panel but they never saw the man himself.
Bettinger did, however, meet singer Jason Mraz and actors Kevin Sorbe, Faye Dunaway, Peter Fonda and Famke Janssen. 

Jennifer Bettinger, third from left, at the festival.
"A few of our students were excited because they ran into Ryan Gosling in the American Pavillion. They took tons of pictures with him and told everyone about it," said Bettinger. They found out later, when they ran into the real Ryan Gosling coming out of a McDonald's, that the other guy in their photos was a fake.

All of the students who went to Cannes earned the right to be there. In addition to the application process, all interested students were interviewed, and had to come up with their own funding for the trip. "I took out a loan to pay for it," said Bettinger. 

Out of the 60 students who applied, 30 were given an interview and 14 got to go. "Film festivals, is what I want to go into, so the fact that I got the experience was amazing," Bettinger said.

But Bettinger did not get to see any films at the festival - she was too busy building her career. 

"CMU changed my life with this opportunity," Bettinger said. "It will pay off and I will work exactly where I want to when its time."

We can teach from our experience, but we cannot teach experience -- Sasha Azevedo

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