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A gigantic owl wins a young filmmaker his visit to Cannes

Maybe Simone Signoret was right after all. The title of her 1978 autobiography was La nostalgie n'est plus qu'elle était ("Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be".)

I remember her in twilight, sitting outside the Colombe d'Or, the legendary restaurant in her home village of St.Paul de Vence, clutching her shawl, hunched over like a little old French lady.

But while I wane nostalgic, I hear another story, a new story, that makes me remember how we felt about Cannes in our halcyon salad days. And this story is unfolding as we speak.

He's just a young guy from Newfoundland. His name is Stephen Dunn.

Last November Stephen and seven other first year film students competed in the Toronto 48 Hour Film Project. They had two days to conceive and maket an original short film. They entered a short film called "The Hall"-a film which Stephen wrote and directed.

Competing against industry professionals many years their senior, they won Best Film, Best Writing, Best Acting, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and the Audience Choice award. As a result they represented Canada at the Miami International Film Festival in March, won the top prize, and were proclaimed to be one of the Top 15 international short films for 2008. "The Hall" was then chosen to screen in Boston on March 30 as one of the best films in the history of the 48 Hour Film Festival.

And where did that lead them? To Cannes. "The Hall" will be screened at 11:30 a.m. this Monday March 18 at the festival's Short Film Corner. (It will also be competing in the National Film Board's online short film contest.)

And while get all nostalgic along with Roger about Le Petit Carlton, the once and magical student hang-out on the Rue d'Antibes, I doubt if Stephen Dunn has ever heard of it, let alone the famous Cannes hotel and terrace it was named for.

But then, he's all about the present. And living every minute of it. "I'm here now," he emailed fellow Newfoundlander Rick Mercer, "and it's so effing intense. Yesterday I saw two films, saw Tilda Swinton, listened to Martin Scorsese speak TWICE and watched Francis Ford Coppela cry from 10 feet away. I've been here two days and can already say that this has been my most incredible trip yet."

Dunn describes "The Hall" this way: "It follows detective Martin Crimp in his admirable attempt to bestow a birthday gift upon Olive, his secret crush across the hall. However the appearance of a giant menacing owl prevents Martin from delivering the perfect gift."

To check out "The Hall" and its filmmaker, his youtube channel has his vlogs.

The trailer for his short film is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsWFRhOANoU&feature=channel_page

And here is his facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/profile.php?id=510961029

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