ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Emma Riley didn’t take long to make a name for herself after graduating from St. Bonaventure University last May.
Riley, a 2010 graduate from Berkeley, Calif., was instrumental in two short films selected for the world’s most prestigious film festival. The 64th annual Cannes Film Festival runs from May 11-22.
Riley, who earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy, was the sole actor in “What Happens,” and served as the film editor on the sequel, “It Happens.” Both six-minute short subjects were among more than 1,700 short films from 86 countries selected for the eighth annual Short Film Corner, a Cannes showcase for short films from around the world.
Participation in this Cannes event gives aspiring members of the movie industry invaluable exposure to established players in the field searching for new talent.
“ We are overwhelmed by the opportunity to meet others working in the industry, specifically others who are actively working in the arts, and who were also accredited by Cannes. It’s really networking heaven,” said Riley, who’s studying at the Actors Centre in the west end of London. “Working freelance, in the arts, is terribly difficult and challenging. Each day you wake up not knowing what your future holds.”
Riley stars in “What Happens,” a social commentary on modern technology and the manipulation of relationships through the power of contemporary communication. The film follows an entire relationship from start to finish strictly from the female point of view, but only through the lens of technology.
“The other ‘half’ of the relationship is what she receives from her partner through text messages, e-mails, etc.,” said Riley, who admits the entire film crew was “shocked” that the film was selected for Cannes since they made it in only three days.
“Even for a lot of the short films, people often take a year to make them,” Riley said.
Once they wrapped up filming on “What Happens,” the crew decided to move right to a sequel, “It Happens,” the six-minute saga of the relationship’s demise.
“We submitted the films (to Cannes) never thinking they would be selected,” Riley said. “It was a great feeling to know that they had viewed and selected ours, and that we can now travel to Cannes and have complete access to each event. It seems that all of us are most excited to get to the premier of Woody Allen’s latest film ‘Midnight in Paris.’”
The films were directed by Karen O’Donoghue and produced by SquECK Productions.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. No wonder U.S. News and World Report has for years considered us a “Great School at a Great Price.”