English student going to Cannes Film Festival to serve on jury

Less than a day after Ryan Lattanzio picks up his master’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, the 22-year-old will board a flight to France on an all-expenses-paid trip to be a jurist and critic at the acclaimed Cannes Film Festival.

Ryan Lattanzio

It is a dream come true for Lattanzio, who as a part-time theater assistant at UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive has watched hundreds of rare movies from around the world. Lattanzio has also written for the arts and entertainment section of The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, and as a freelance film critic/blogger for several San Francisco Bay Area publications.

“I’ve been interested in film as long as I can remember,” says Lattanzio, who before his big trip to the world’s premiere film festival will  put the finishing touches on his thesis on American horror movies.

As the recipient of a “College to Cannes” award from the San Francisco Film Society and French Consulate, Lattanzio will share an apartment with three other students — from South Korea, Belgium and India — who together are tasked with selecting the 2012 Cannes “Visionary Award” for a fledgling independent filmmaker.  The film festival runs May 16 to 27.

Lattanzio applied for the award in January, interviewed for it at the San Francisco Film Society in February, and learned from the French Consulate a few weeks later that he had been chosen. His trip sponsors include the San Francisco Film Society Colleges & Universities program, in partnership with the Consulate General of France in San Francisco, the French American Cultural Society and Semaine de la Critique.

“I am thrilled to be the sole American selected for the College to Cannes program,” Lattanzio says.  “It will be a nice, cathartic release after graduation — though I, of course, will be working very hard.”

He also will work as a film critic in Cannes, submitting reviews to Bay Area outlets such as the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I’m not sure how many films I will see at the festival, but most of them will be part of the Critics’ Week, which surveys underground, experimental, independent and art house works, which are mainly my purview anyway,” Lattanzio notes. He adds that he hopes to see a new release by Austrian experimental filmmaker and writer Michael Haneke.

After Cannes, Lattanzio plans to spend three days in Paris on his own “and live out my post-undergraduate bohemian fantasy until I have to return to the states, and back to reality.” He plans to move to the American film capital, Los Angeles, in mid-summer and see what new opportunities present themselves there.