UC student takes in Cannes Film Festival

Film and media studies major Tanmay Srivastava attended the event as a documentary producer

Tanmay Srivastava got a unique point of view on the film industry this year by attending the Cannes Film Festival, an international event held annually in Cannes, France.

Srivastava, a student in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Arts and Sciences double-majoring in film and media studies and history, has directed and produced documentaries since his youth. In those formative years, he spent a lot of time visiting his older brother who was pursuing a degree at UC.

“I've been wandering around this campus for seven years. Whenever I would visit my brother, I would spend most of my time in TUC, and I've seen the campus grow,” noted Srivastava. “I am a history guy, and this city has a lot of history. It’s more comfortable for me here—that's why I ended up at UC.”

As a global leader in experience-based learning, UC was an ideal location for Srivastava’s undergraduate career. UC encourages its students to follow their passions through hands-on education around the world.

With several international film festival nominations and awards under his belt, Srivastava was an industry-recognized director and producer even before coming to UC in 2021. His previous work landed him an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival this year. While he didn’t receive any film nods at Cannes, he still considers attending the world-class event a highlight of his undergraduate career. 

No small fête

Tanmay Srivastava stands in front of a step and repeat backdrop celebrating India as the country of honor at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tanmay Srivastava poses for the cameras at the annual Cannes Film Festival. Photo/provided.

Srivastava went to the first week of the two-week festival, which was filled with film premieres, networking, and award ceremonies.

Amid the glitz and glamour of celebrity sightings and red-carpet events, Srivastava said his focus was meeting with other producers and friends from the film industry. That didn’t stop him from a few run-ins with famous folks, including most notably, this year’s winner of the honorary Palme d’Or award, Forest Whitaker.

“I opened the door, and [Whitaker was] right there,” recounted Srivastava. “I shook hands with him, of course, and I gave him my card. Took his hand, had a good conversation for about a minute. [The Cannes Film Festival] is the place where we can meet and talk to these people, because otherwise, they're unreachable.”

For Srivastava, another highlight of the event was his home country, India, being named the official country of honor at the concurrent Marché du Film, the official festival marketplace for networking, conferences, and project previews. 

“That was a big event because we had businessmen, producers, and actors from my country—everyone,” said Srivastava. "I had a lot of meetings at the film market—that kept me busy... Being from India and seeing it have such a big focus was a very proud moment for me.”

Srivastava noted that he spent most of his time at the market meeting with Indian government officials, composers, and other filmmakers. Throughout the week, he was able to connect with new collaborators and represent his country with pride.

A different lens

Tanmay Srivastava stands outside of the Marche du Film at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tanmay Srivastava stands outside of the Marché du Film at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo/provided.

Srivastava has been slightly less prolific since beginning his undergraduate studies, but attending the film festival sparked some creative ideas for his next project. 

“When I came to college, I took more of a producer role than a director because I had to focus on my academics,” Srivastava explained. "But I am looking into directing a documentary project focusing on the effects of the Ukraine War in Eastern European borders.” 

Outside of his coursework, Srivastava has a role as a digital storyteller for the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. He is also part of the University Honors Program at UC, which offers students opportunities to lead innovative efforts toward solving the world's complex problems. To him, global experiences like participation in the Cannes Film Festival are an invaluable part of a university education. 

“In my view, it's important to have a global perspective and, as an honors student, to be a global citizen scholar,” said Srivastava. “UC is a very global university. We have students coming from many parts of the world and not just students, but even faculty members. And we are a global society—not just in the US, not just in India, but everywhere in the world. Being a part of that global society is important in every field of work.” 

Featured image at top: Tanmay Srivastava and friend Hunter Shallcross stand in front of a Cannes Film Festival sign. Photo/provided.

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