Five weeks ago, Matthew James Reilly sat for an elegant dinner at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, on the French Riviera. Around him were acclaimed filmmakers such as Alexander Payne, Michael Haneke and many others, and earlier that evening, Reilly himself had been honored with a Cannes student film award for his 17-minute short, “Abigail.” He had come a long way from Glendale High.
“I've been an avid fan of the Cannes festival since I first got into filmmaking in high school,” says Reilly, 22. “I used to geek out on it every year and watched what films came out of it. To be able to be a part of that, to be honored, is unreal.”
It was an astonishingly unexpected outcome to a film he'd made for a class at New York University, but the quietly evocative story of a young woman who quits her job at a gas station in an attempt to change her life clearly made an impression. Reilly wrote, directed, produced and edited “Abigail,” which was one of just two American films accepted into student competition, out of 4,500 entries.