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Can I submit a work in progress to the festival?

The short answer is yes, but don't.

In theory it is possible to submit a work in progress cut of a film for festival consideration, but this is not at all recommended unless the film is from a well-known director.

A-list festivals like Cannes are already massively oversubscribed in terms of the ratio of submissions to festival berths. So in reality, incomplete films need to be absolutely exceptional in their rough state to have any chance of getting a look-in. Even ultimately fantastic films may not show their greatness until completed. And of course it's always possible that the finished film ends up being different enough to the original submission that the Festival decides to deselect it anyway.

The other key consideration is whether the film will be truly ready for Cannes. If the festival does show an interest in the film, it's berth will be conditional on it being completed in time for the first screening. Cannes history is resplendent with examples of films which were selected, but ultimately met with poor reception and bad reviews because they were rushed simply to be in the festival. Southland Tales, Richard Kelly's 2006 follow-up to Donny Darko is one of many films which springs to mind.

A full rundown on the 2025 Cannes Film Festival, is available in the book, Cannes - A Festival Virgin's Guide (7th Edition).
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