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"Taking a gamble on filmmakers"

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Charles Tesson • General Delegate, Critics’ Week

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- Charles Tesson, the General Delegate of the Cannes Critics’ Week, shares his thoughts on his selection for 2015

Charles Tesson  • General Delegate, Critics’ Week

Taking stock of world film production, selection criteria, rivalry between the various selections... Charles Tesson, General Delegate of the Critics’ Week, the 54th edition of which will unspool from 15-23 May as part of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, breaks down his selection for 2015 (read the article).

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Cineuropa: How is the panorama of young cinema from around the globe looking in view of all the works you watched before deciding on your selection for 2015?
Charles Tesson: There are some countries experiencing strong growth, like India, which has identified the role that Cannes can play for feature debuts, especially after The Lunchbox [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. On the other hand, we received fewer films from the rest of Asia. Latin America is stable in terms of production, apart from maybe Argentina, which has a little less presence in terms of volume, even though we accepted Paulina [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
into the competition. As for Europe, several countries had films on the shortlist ahead of the final selection: Slovenia, Denmark, Spain, Romania, Kosovo, Russia... We received a lot of German movies, but there wasn’t anything really strong this year. As regards England, it’s probably only temporary, but it remained very much in the background compared to previous years, when they would always have four or five interesting films to offer us. Finally, we accepted four films from North and South America (one Canadian, one from the US, one Argentinian and one Colombian), four French, one Italian, one Korean and one Palestinian.

Was it straightforward picking the French films (read the article)?
It’s a very rich year for French cinema, and that includes feature debuts. They are scattered throughout the various sections of the festival. The danger is that there may only be four or five interesting ones and that we fight over them. On the contrary, this year we nearly had some regrets because there were other films that we could have taken, but we had to make choices because we couldn’t have too many French films compared to the rest. There was both quality and quantity. I was a little bit afraid, what with the increasing scarcity of shoots in France, but there were almost ten French films that had the potential to be selected. All the same, that’s a lot, and at our level here in the Critics’ Week, it’s pretty exceptional if you compare it to the other countries around the world.

What do you think of France’s high level of international co-productions? Is that an unnerving factor for a selector?
It’s true that France is unique in that respect; foreign filmmakers know it and are grateful for it. There are some French outfits acting as minority co-producers on films like the Palestinian title Dégradé, Argentina’s Paulina and the Colombian movie Land and Shade [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
that we selected this year. But we don’t have a quota of any kind, and certain films in the selection that were 100% produced by their countries (the Canadian, US and Korean ones) have neither a French distributor nor sales agent. However, it’s true that even in other sections of the festival, there are a lot of films with a French share on the co-production front. On one hand, that keeps film industries alive, but it must also be stimulating for the film policies of those countries.

How are you finding the competition between the different Cannes selections and the media pressure on your work?
What Cannes is most concerned with is that all of the selections are in rude health. Of course, there is a certain amount of competition between us, but in the end, it is the directors and producers who decide. The other sections also take first and second films, but as far as we are concerned, it’s all very clear: it’s about discovery. This year we have nine feature debuts out of the 11 feature films in the selection. Afterwards, for our opening film, Les Anarchistes [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Elie Wajeman, I hadn’t gauged the impact of Tahar Rahim and Adèle Exarchopoulos at all, and what that was able to generate, and it’s also true that Les deux amis [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Louis Garrel is an eagerly awaited film because it has a well-known cast. But it is the movies that guide us, never their casts. The Critics’ Week is first and foremost an editorial job; it’s about taking a gamble on filmmakers. We showed Snowtown by Justin Kurzel in 2011, and he is in the official competition this year, as is Valérie Donzelli, who opened the Critics’ Week that same year with Declaration of War [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. And we could also mention Alice Winocour, who will be in Un Certain Regard this year and whose feature debut, Augustine [+see also:
film review
trailer
festival scope
film profile
]
, we screened in 2012. It’s not until further down the line when we see that our choices have been recognised, and we’re involved in this long term. Our job is to approach little-known filmmakers and take them as far as possible.

(Translated from French)

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