Every so often, Cultist brings you the story of a local filmmaker setting off to a big film festival, showing off their work for the world to see. Rarely, though, is that work of art set to premiere at a festival as prestigious as the Cannes Film Festival, which entered its 67th year when it kicked off yesterday.
But Celia Evans, the owner of the Miami Beach-based film production company Sea Star Films, is doing just that.
Evans' directorial feature debut, a documentary titled The Ultimate Wedding Planner, is set to be released at Cannes. The documentary focuses on the Asian luxury sector and the largest wedding planner in the world, based in Japan. The wedding guru is Yoshi Nojiri, and the film showcases his rise to fame and every aspect of his and his team's hands-on planning, with one of its highlights being the vow renewal between Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed that the planner organized.
While her production company started with commercials and style programming through PlanetFashionTV, going behind the scenes at fashion events internationally, the director and wedding planner were brought together at Milan Fashion Week.
"I've been covering Fashion Week for over a decade and in the last couple of years, Asia's luxury sector has just boomed. So while I was there I met with a representative for Yoshi Nojiri. I was learning about his story, and I just thought it was really unique," Evans explains.
As for deciding to make it the basis of her first feature, she adds, "I was thinking this is a nice foray into a feature-length documentary because it's still about style and in my realm."
Considering Nojiri's Hong Kong based company, One Heart Wedding, plans over 22,000 weddings a year, it's clear he's a subject worth exploring. "He gave middle class people million dollar weddings that his company finances. People who really want the showy wedding and can't afford it just pay it off for the rest of their lives."
It certainly speaks to the demand for luxury on a global scale, be it in America or Asia, a topic ripe for exploration in a documentary. To premiere something like this at a festival as global as Cannes seems appropriate, even more so as the director had actually covered the festival itself for years beforehand. "To tell the truth, I was always expecting and hoping for it to be a Cannes premiere," she admits.
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Just as importantly, The Ultimate Wedding Planner's premiere is another great example of the focus being placed on women in the film industry this year at the festival (with five out of the nine jury members this year being female filmmakers and actresses). Not only was the film directed by Evans, but all of the producers on the film were women.
When it comes to women in the film industry, Evans doesn't see a lot of barriers up for women anymore. "I feel like in filmmaking women have a real power and freedom," she says. "Women are doing everything, but so is everybody."
With luck, Celia Evans will make a splash at Cannes with her documentary and we'll be seeing a Miami release in no time at all.