When St. Margaret's senior Charlotte Quintanar began working on her documentary film project exploring the worldwide decline in bee populations, she had no idea where the project would take her.
Ultimately, it led her to one of the premier stages for filmmakers in the entire world. Her 9-minute documentary film, Bee the Solution, was screened at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival this month.
The Cannes Film Festival is one of the top film festivals in the world. Charlotte’s film was one of 38 selected for the festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase, and one of 10 in the high school showcase category.
Charlotte returned to California this week after spending a week in France, where she immersed in everything offered to filmmakers at Cannes and the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. She attended the screenings of more than 10 films, participated in workshops, listened to panel presentations and keynote speakers and networked with filmmakers from around the world.
“It was so inspiring,” Charlotte said. “I left every workshop and every panel so sure that documentary filmmaking is what I want to pursue.”
Her film, Bee the Solution, started innocently enough. She had developed relationships with leaders at The Ecology Center, a regenerative farm and educational center in San Juan Capistrano, having interviewed a few of them for other projects. During those conversations, she learned about The Ecology Center’s beehives and the effects of a declining bee population on the farm’s harvest.
That sparked a curiosity which eventually took her back to The Ecology Center to learn more and capture footage, then to two locations in England last summer for more filming and interviewing. She even reached out to a contact in China after hearing about the challenges of a Chinese province that no longer has bees to pollinate crops.
Once Charlotte felt she connected all the dots, she edited the entire film back home in Southern California. Once completed, she began submitting it for consideration to a number of festivals, including the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at Cannes.
A while later, she got a call from a number she didn’t recognize. She answered it. It was a representative from the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase.
She was in.
One of her first calls sharing the news was to St. Margaret’s film teacher Karen Bennett. Charlotte’s introduction to filmmaking came when she was a Middle School student at St. Margaret’s and signed up for Ms. Bennett’s grade 8 film class.
Charlotte credits Ms. Bennett as a major influence in her passion and success in documentary filmmaking. Ms. Bennett sees Charlotte’s talent, intellect and passion as ingredients for success in her future filmmaking pursuits.
“Charlotte is an incredibly dedicated filmmaker who works far beyond the requirements of our class film projects,” Ms. Bennett said. “When she finds a topic she is passionate about she really enjoys meticulously researching, interviewing, and filming the subjects to create a documentary that is above all else accessible to her audience.
“Bee the Solution earned the praise and accolades it did simply because Charlotte worked harder and with more grit and passion than other high school filmmakers. I could not be more proud that her hard work was represented at Cannes. It was well earned!”
The Emerging Filmmaker Showcase is one of many honors for Charlotte’s film. Bee the Solution was also an official selection at the Paris Short Film Festival, the Chicago Indie Film Awards, the Providence Children’s Film Festival, the RS Film Fest, the Los Angeles International Film Festival, and the Environmental Film & Screenplay Festival. It also won “Best High School Documentary” at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth.
Charlotte’s documentary filmmaking will continue at The University of Chicago. She will major in molecular engineering and documentary film through the school’s STAGE program, a full-scale laboratory devoted to collaboration among scientists and artists.
You can view Charlotte’s documentary, Bee the Solution
, at this link