If you liked this article share it with your friends. They will thank you later.


Local Film Producer Nadia Maxwell on the Upcoming Cannes Film Festival

Film and Moving Image
image Cannes Film Festival
image Nadia in Cannes

Local film producer Nadia Maxwell is heading to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this month.

She has a long career in the film industry – after five years in the United Kingdom, Nadia returned to Aotearoa in 2003, to work at regional film office Film South.

As a production manager at Raconteur Productions in Christchurch, she worked on documentaries for TVNZ, TV3 and Al Jazeera, and directed NZ Stories episode Singing With Conviction, and episodes of Making Italy Home.

A graduate of Amsterdam’s prestigious Binger Filmlab, she has since produced shorts and two features — Nic Gorman’s three on an island drama Human Traces (2017), which played at festivals in Toronto and Melbourne, and past meets present thriller Reunion (2020).

She currently leads the team at Overactive Imagination productions, based in Ōtautahi.

She shares some of her knowledge about the world’s largest film festival with us.


Every May, around 12,000 people from the international film industry descend on the town of Cannes in the French Riviera for the film festival (as it happens, it’s three film festivals that run concurrently) and the Marché du Film that runs alongside it.

It feels like being caught somewhere between a whirlwind and a circus. The Cannes bubble is at once amazing and  overwhelming but there is no other film market quite like it.

The Marché du Film is the largest film market in the world, every buyer and seller worth their salt is here. As a producer trying to make films from a small island nation at the bottom of the South Pacific, nowhere else gives you access to all the people, who can potentially help you realise your film, at one time and in one place.

Adding to the spectacle, are thousands of journalists and film festival fans. And every day amidst it all are small surprises, cats on leads, super models in Gucci gowns, and my favourite: a  little old French lady singing calmly on the Croisette surrounded by the swirling crowds, immaculately dressed, with a chicken on her lap.

So how to prepare and what to expect…

  • Do your research. Find the companies who are a good fit for your project. Keep up to date with their recent acquisitions (especially on our side of the world) and watch their films (there’s worse research to do, right?).
  • Start setting up your meetings about 4 weeks ahead of the market. If you’re hoping someone will read your script prior to Cannes, then you’ll need to approach them more like 6-8 weeks out. Their reading pile ahead of the market will be immense.
  • Markets are all about relationships. For all the wonders of zoom, being face to face is integral to meaningful relationships. Practice your pitch  – but in the room focus on trying to make a human connection with the person in front of you, rather than launching straight into your pitch.
  • Meetings are often outside (it’s the South of France after all) so bring printed materials rather than have someone trying to squint at your computer screen in the sun.
  • Read the trades. Every morning the biggest screen magazines put out daily issues on the latest news, deals and reviews. Make it part of your morning ritual to grab a coffee and  sit down with a few.
  • Opportunities abound at Cannes. Say yes and see where the festival takes you.
  • It’s a long way to go and Cannes can feel daunting but remember your first few trips will be about laying the groundwork, understanding more about how everything works and building connections, so keep your expectations in check.
  • In a world of 2-second attention spans, Cannes celebrates the art of filmmaking. As well as the opportunity to build and nurture relationships, you’ll leave feeling cinema is alive and important and this is a powerful thing to hold onto.

The Cannes Film Festival begins on May 14.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Fill in your details below.