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Interview with International Composer and Director Cyril Morin Cyril Morin @ 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Interview with International Film Producer and Composer Cyril Morin @ 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival      Interview with International Film Producer and Composer Cyril Morin @ 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Cyril Morin is an Academy member, a multi-award-winning composer, who has scored numerous soundtracks for both film and television. He is re-known throughout the international press for his long lasting "multiple talents (Variety)". His score for the critically acclaimed "Samsara" (directed by Pan Nalin). The soundtrack continues to be a hit internationally, garnering many dedicated fans, and has made Morin something of a cult composer.

Morin has also worked on numerous TV features, documentaries. Cyril Morin has produced over 50 albums, soundtracks, and solo albums for his own label. He has also orchestrated songs for Madonna, Mirwais, Kery James and the Indian singer Vidya Rao. A solo artist as well, Cyril Morin's "The Evolutionist" has been hailed a "cinematic journey" and "a beautiful fusion of sound" by critics. His last Album was released on the platform “Double Piano” with the pianist William Lecomte.

In 2013, he wrote and directed “The Activist”, a thriller about American political unrest regarding the Native Americans at Wounded Knee. The film won awards at the Sedona, Tenerife, and Red Nation film festivals. It also received two Henri Langlois awards in France. The Activist was named one of the top 10 essential Native American films by Indian Country Today.

In 2016, he directed “Hacker's Game Redux”, a love story between two hackers, starring Pom Klementieff (Guardian of the Galaxy, Mission Impossible). This film swept the Indie Fest Film Awards with four wins.  “NY84”, was released is inspired by the artists and music of the 1980s, the film looks at the beginnings of the AIDS crisis in New York. In 2022 a new cut of The Activist will be released under the name” The Sacrifice Zone (The Activist)”

Cyril Morin last soundtrack “Last Film Show “(directed by Pan Nalin) was shortlisted “best international film” for the Academy Awards in 2023.


In an interview with Cyril Morin about his films being screened in the 2023 Cannes Film Market, here is what he had to say:

How did you get into scoring music for films? Did you always know it's what you want to do?

CYRIL: I always was into music and movies. As an adolescent, several times a week I was watching movies in theaters even though I couldn't afford it. Music has been in my life since I was five years old. I wanted to become a guitar player and I ended up having my 15 minutes of fame on French TV and radio in my twenties. I was singing, playing and also acting. Then, I decided that I was preferring the studio more than the stage, so I stopped everything in a week. I went underground for almost ten years to really study music. I made amazing encounters in the classical and contemporary music world. Long story short, I thought I could learn to be a conductor, but I wasn’t classically trained enough to make it. So, I finally listened to my inner voice, and I started to compose soundtracks early 2000.


You have worked with Indian director Pan Nalin on his film "SAMSARA". Can you tell us how your working relationship began with Pan?

CYRIL: We met thanks to a producer friend of mine. I was into Indian literature at that time, and it was spiritually revealed to me by the great conductors I was following. I wasn’t surprised when a director coming from India knocked at my door. It was very natural, and it is still natural today. Recently, while traveling with “The Last Film Show”, we were walking the stairs of the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, as Academy members now, and it reminded me of the first time we arrived in LA with “Samsara” for the AFI in 2002. Nothing has been easy since, but we kind of make our way with time and obstinacy. Pan Nalin sort of changed my life. Through him, I became more open to the world, I started to travel a lot, and some new doors opened.


You are an award-winning film composer, writer, and director. Is there a role you like more out of all three? And do you find wearing multiple hats in the industry is essential to get films made these days?

CYRIL: “Everything comes from the same heart” said a friend of mine. I don’t make any difference in the creation. I’m excited the same way whether I’m doing music, movies, or any art. There are subtle differences. Music represents the air. I’m not obliged to transcribe any reality and I can create a world that doesn’t exist. Movies and script/stories are taking me closer to the ground, closer to reality. To share a story, I feel I need to be closer to history and geography. My films are more grounded. 


As a prolific film and award-winning film score composer, is there a work or works you are most proud of having worked on?

CYRIL: I’m very happy to have accomplished real artistic work in different fields. In music, I’ll always be happy with the films with Pan Nalin (“Samsara” & recently “Last Film Show”). Also, same with Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride) I made a world tour with all the soundtracks I composed in twenty years (around 180 soundtracks for films, TV, and documentaries). When it comes to making movies, there is a long process of writing alone. I wrote many more scripts and projects that I will ever make. I do like this writing time, because I spend time inventing a world, living in it, and sometimes for years. It is very special. I like the three features I made mostly in the US. And I got some awards for them that encouraged me. In those films, I express many topics- adolescence, America in the seventies, Native Americans, false information, Aids. I believe that a lot of what we do is linked with childhood and adolescence. But those topics are still there today.


You scored Pan Nalin's 2022 film "The Last Film Show", which was India's Oscar submission. Can you speak about your experience working on that film?

CYRIL: This movie itself was a great journey and it started years ago when we talked about Pan Nalin’s childhood. This film is very personal in that regard. Since I grew up in theatres, I feel very related to that story, because this film talks about our relationship with cinema and the history of cinema. I am always moved by it. Not only because it is a great film and not because I knew Pan Nalin’s story, but certainly because it is my own story too. It’s that universal. As for the style of the music, we gave an homage partly to the work of Tarkovsky and his composer Eduard Artemyev. I also composed a melody on light Indian chords, and I played it with a modern piano. This melody represents the future of the child Samay, after he will leave his village. The music represents where he is going, not where he is. His future is already in his mind, even though he doesn't know it yet.


Since the 90's, you have produced over 30 albums, soundtracks, and solo albums for his own label. Can you talk about your music outside of film?

CYRIL: I produced around fifty soundtracks or solo albums and I worked with several singers as an orchestrator. I’m coming from the pop song world and like to go back to it sometime. My solo work is important since it allowed me to explore different styles and areas beside the film scores. When I work as a film composer, I follow the director's ideas. When I do a solo album, I follow my ideas. Is it easier? No. It’s just different. It is not easy to be free and to find a direction alone. Being with a filmmaker is like being “in a band” and expanding with a “group effect”. I've always recommended composers to work beside film scores. For me, it is important to refresh myself and bring new ideas to directors. The only problem I have is that it takes me three years to compose a solo album since I’m busy on other things.


On top of everything you are doing, you are also a member of the Academy. Can you tell us a little about that? 

CYRIL: I joined the Academy a few years ago and I really like the work the academy is doing. It is made up of amazing artists, composers, and songwriters which, for some of them, I have known for a long time and for many, I’m a big admirer. I like this sense of community that you have in the US and the Academy has an amazing reunion of artists. This experience is part of the journey that music and film brought me to.


This year you had three films in the 2023 Cannes market. Can you speak about those? 

CYRIL: Indeed, by chance, there were three different screenings of the last soundtracks I made. “Sira” is a film by Burkinabe director Apolline Traore (our third movie together). It talks about terrorism in the African desert and how women are treated there. It is a very important movie that you will hear from. There was also a special Barco screening for “Last Film Show” with an incredible picture resolution. I saw it in LA, and it was fantastic! The third movie was shown during the Cannes film market. It’s an Anglo-Canadian thriller with Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). This score is more suspenseful, atonal, raw, and kind of tough. With Sebastien Drouin, the director, we started talking about this story a long time ago, so it was already inside me for years when we started.


What will you be working on next? 

CYRIL: My next project is “The Child”, a French-Greek feature film directed by Takis Candilis, a longtime television producer. For this story I created a unique melody that repeats and transforms along the story. It is inspired by Greece and Mediterranean music, but more than this, it is a universal melody that can stay a long time after watching the movie, like a reminiscence. I went to Athens before the shooting to record local singers and musicians, to create a base for the soundtrack that will be finished at the end of the year. I also developed a feature film as a director that will take place in Italy. I’m in the development phase now. I also wrote a limited series. I can't say too much now. Just know that I have finally finished the script after seven years of research and many trips to the US. 

Interview with International Film Producer and Composer Cyril Morin @ 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Photos by @Par Bernal


Interview by Vanessa McMahon


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