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"Conviviality, rigour, eclecticism and discovery”

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Christophe Leparc • Artistic director, Cinemed

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- We met up with Christophe Leparc, the new man at the helm of the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, the 37th edition of which is taking place between 24 and 31 October

Christophe Leparc  • Artistic director, Cinemed

Christophe Leparc has become the new artistic director of Cinemed, the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, the 37th incarnation of which is currently in full swing (24-31 October – read the news). It’s a well-earned promotion; Leparc has been the secretary general of the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes since 2008, following his stint as coordinator of the Critics’ Week.

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Cineuropa: The Mediterranean Film Festival has its own, very identifiable flavour. How are you aiming to give it your own personal flair?
Christophe Leparc: One of my objectives is to bring back a more convivial aspect to it. What I mean is that I’m trying to go back to the real origins of the word "festival": a celebration of cinema that is designed to please audiences and guest directors alike. We must go beyond simply screening these films, because the friendly way artists and audiences can meet up and interact with each other has always been one of the big positives of the festival setting. We're also organising a celebration to honour Tony Gatlif, who has been invited as part of this year’s retrospectives. He’ll have several of the actresses who have worked with him, such as Asia Argento, Lubna Azabal and Céline Sallette, around as well. We'll be screening The Crazy Stranger in his honour, and afterwards there will be a free Rona Hartner (one of the performers in the film) concert, and everyone is welcome to attend. 

It seems that the competition this year has really tightened up.
Well, yes, because our other watchwords this year are rigour and eclecticism. Rigour because we're here to show off the cinema industry and we have to choose between everything that the Mediterranean has to offer, so we need to have rigorous standards to choose the highest-quality films. And eclecticism refers to the range of film genres we’ve got on show: thrillers, comedies, dramas, animations, etc. Cinema isn’t a set of sub-genres, they’re all their own industry, and you can just as easily appreciate Miguel Gomes as you can Hot Shots from the Valeria Golino retrospective. Of course, this eclecticism comes from a love of cinema, which has high standards when it comes to quality. We're still all about discovering new talent: of the ten competing fiction feature films, six are cinematic debuts, as well as half of the eight competing feature-length documentaries. Part of our mission is to discover fresh faces, following auteurs from as far back as their first shorts.

Besides Tony Gatlif, what were some of the guiding factors for your choices concerning this year’s retrospectives?
Well, we’ve been working on our tribute to Spanish cinema and Carlos Saura for years. We've also been following Tamasa and the work they've been doing restoring films from the 1960s and 1970s, and we've been waiting until the right time to present this retrospective in the biggest possible way. We also want to highlight the burgeoning young Portuguese film industry. It's a little like what we did with Greek cinema last year. We need to show off the fact that, despite the enormous economic difficulties plaguing the country, it has still been a highly dynamic breeding ground for cinema. As well as the retrospective presented by Miguel Gomes, there are also two competing fiction features (João Nicolau’s John From [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and João Salaviza’s Montanha [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: João Salaviza
film profile
]
), a documentary, two shorts and two mid-length research films. It's all about highlighting the cause of all this creative excitement and passion. We're taking full advantage of it to start promoting the Franco-Portuguese co-production agreements that were put in place three years ago, as well as the ones concerning short films in Portugal. Miguel Gomes, who is in some ways the spearhead of this new Portuguese generation of filmmakers, can be spoken about in the same breath as Xavier Dolan and Apichatpong Weerasethakul as one of the most thoughtful auteurs when it comes to what is the true bearer of cinematic art, and we're fortunate enough to have him giving a master class on the subject. Then, to open the festival we had, amongst others, Valeria Golino from Per amor vostro [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Giuseppe M Gaudino
film profile
]
, for which she won the Best Actress Award at Venice. She's a big name who's been on a very remarkable and extraordinary cinematic journey. As a brief overview, she's shot with Dustin Hoffman and Sean Penn, she's had a career in France, most notably with Olivier Marchal, and she moved into directing. And last but not least, we'll be having a Sergio Sollima night. He was one of the biggest Italian directors who really put his stamp on the industry during the 1970s with his somewhat violent westerns and thrillers; relatively political films going far beyond simple entertainment. His son Stefano, who is also a director, will be participating this year with his own film, Suburra [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Stefano Sollima
film profile
]
, which will hit French cinemas in December this year. 

(Translated from French)

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