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Thierry Frémaux • General Delegate, Cannes Film Festival

"Cinema, just like society, needs diversity"


- We met up with Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, to discuss his 2015 selection

Thierry Frémaux  • General Delegate, Cannes Film Festival

A few days away from the 68th Cannes Film Festival (13-24 May 2015), Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the world’s biggest film event, sheds some light on his 2015 selection and gives us his analysis of the threats facing independent film production.

Cineuropa: Is the clear rejuvenation of filmmakers in competition this year a sign of a generational shake-up?
Thierry Frémaux: In order to come up with a proper and useful analysis, you need to look at several years in a row, but let’s say that if the young directors coming in this year sustain their momentum, later people will look back on 2015 as a pivotal year. It’s still a little early. That said, it is indeed a great year of rejuvenation.

There is a record Italian presence this year, with films by Nanni Moretti, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone in competition – was that easy to decide on?

We have three Italian movies in competition and five French ones, but there’s nothing new about that: we’ve had up to five or six US films, for example, or three Japanese ones. The most important thing is to make a good selection and, while respecting the geographical balance, to accentuate the state of health of this or that country. This year it happens to be Italy.

What do you think of the current "honeymoon period" for transalpine films?

It’s not totally surprising, as Moretti, Garrone and Sorrentino are all great auteurs. And Italy is a great country for cinema, with its history, its tradition, its collective strength and its collective memory. But we have also seen several very fine feature debuts hailing from Italy that suggest that the baton is ready to be passed.

What is the state of health of European cinema in view of the content and the geographical origins of the 2015 Official Selection?

For the statistics, you just need to have a look at the list of the films in the Official Selection. But other than that, we’ve seen a huge disparity in Europe. At the same time, if the whole world were like France or Italy, we would need 15 Cannes Festivals!

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You’ve stressed that choosing the French films was heartbreaking this year. Why?
Because we had to leave quite a few films by the wayside. With five French films in competition, we couldn’t put any more in there, and yet we saw beautiful things that really deserved to be there. And what’s heartbreaking is that I’m dying to give out the titles! But I mustn’t. In any case, there are still some fine films arriving. 

The economic tensions and the transformations occurring in the global film industry are damaging the funding of the least “mainstream” works, particularly those by young filmmakers. What is your analysis of this phenomenon, and what are the best ways to halt it?

I think that every person, wherever he or she may be, must ensure that they contribute to the debate, and that debate is simple: cinema, just like society, needs diversity, and needs to promote new voices, new styles, new faces and so on. Clearly, money and the fact that it is concentrated in one place are threatening independent film production and the emergence of new talents. But cinema as a whole will be in jeopardy if those who bring it to life do not stand together to protect its fundamental principles. From this point of view, while we have to show ourselves to be vigilant, I think that everyone agrees on the crux of the matter. Cannes is also a place where we encourage political debate on cinema.

(Translated from French)

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