It’s been a quarter century since Thelma And Louise first played the Cannes Film Festival. Susan Sarandon had to miss the festival that year — she was giving birth and couldn’t make it, she tells me — but in the first of our exclusive videos from Deadline’s studio on the Croisette, she reminisces about the Cannes experience (“it’s kind of like the festival on steroids”) and film festivals generally as a platform for independent films.

Sarandon, who will reunite with co-star Geena Davis to celebrate the Thelma And Louise milestone, relates the tale of a “riot” that interrupted her first Cannes visit for Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby in 1978. “Louis just ran into the theater and left Brooke Shields and I to be devoured by the crowd,” she says. “That was really scary.”

In cinema landscape she says has become “more corporate in feeling,” Sarandon believes festivals are the best opportunity independent films have to break through. She cites her two movies at Toronto last year — The Meddler and About Ray — which were afforded a heightened profile by their festival berths. The latter awaits a release, but The Meddler is doing gangbusters at the box office for an indie flick.

Sarandon is at Cannes as one of l’Oreal’s brand ambassadors. She will dip out of the festival for two days in the middle to deliver ping pong tables to refugee camps in Berlin, she says; part of her career-long humanitarian efforts which have included work for UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and Amazon Conservation Team.