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"You have to be able to slip from one world to another"

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Edouard Waintrop • General Delegate, Directors’ Fortnight

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- Edouard Waintrop, General Delegate of the Directors’ Fortnight, breaks down his 2016 selection

Edouard Waintrop  • General Delegate, Directors’ Fortnight
(© Directors' Fortnight)

We met up with Edouard Waintrop, the General Delegate of the Directors’ Fortnight, the 48th edition of which will take place from 12-22 May 2016 as part of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Cineuropa: What are the distinguishing features of your 2016 selection (read the news)?
Edouard Waintrop: We have a great number of tremendous films by some big names we hadn’t expected to have, such as Marco Bellocchio for instance, as well as Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pablo Larraín, seasoned filmmakers such as Joachim Lafosse, and young directors like Houda Benyamina, Sacha Wolff, Claude Barras and Shahrbanoo Sadat. The important thing in a selection is for it to be able to reach out to very diverse audiences or for it to guide an audience through a varied range of emotions.

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The mixture of genres is a permanent feature of your selections.
When you present between 15 and 20 films, you have to be able to slip from one world to another, or from one feeling to another. We have three crime films that couldn’t be more different from one another (a sort of American-style B movie with the Canadian title Mean Dreams, a Mumbai noir by Anurag Kashyap and a very edgy crime movie by Paul Schrader, which will serve as the closing film), two documentaries, a few comedies that are somewhat indefinable, an animated film and so on. There are also a lot of emotions to be found in many movies featuring uncommunicative characters, who are rather hard-nosed at the start and who then start to crack, and who open up and become more tender when they come into contact with other people or certain situations: that’s the case for Gérard Depardieu in Tour de France [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rachid Djaïdani
film profile
]
by Rachid Djaïdani or the young thief prone to violence in Fiore [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Claudio Giovannesi
film profile
]
by Claudio Giovannesi, who then goes on to find love in prison. The standout film in terms of this trend is Sweet Dreams [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
]
by Marco Bellocchio, which tells the story of a young boy who loses his mother all of a sudden, and he can’t figure out why. Then, as he’s growing up – as the film unfolds when he’s between 10 and 40 years old – he tries to piece himself back together on a sentimental level. And After Love [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
by Joachim Lafosse also follows in the same emotional vein, even though it’s about a couple tearing each other to pieces.

It’s pretty extraordinary to have three Italian films in the selection!
This is my fifth selection for the Fortnight, and it’s the first time that I have selected any Italian movies. We’ve got three generations of filmmakers: Marco Bellocchio is 76 years old, Paolo Virzi is 52, and Claudio Giovannesi is 37. We discovered them at different points during the selection process. I’ve known for a long time that Italian cinema is back on its feet again because I manage two movie theatres in Geneva, where we’re doing a lot of things with Italian films. Paolo Virzi is a filmmaker I’ve been following for years now, and I’m very happy that we have Like Crazy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Paolo Virzì
film profile
]
, which is exactly what you’d expect from an Italian film – it’s simultaneously very socially committed, funny and sad. Bellocchio is a true master, and he offers us a movie on a subject that he already tackled in a totally different way in My Mother’s Smile [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and even Vincere [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Cannes 2009 Marco Bellocchio
interview: Filippo Timi - actor
film profile
]
: the place of one’s mother, and also a mother who is not around. As for Claudio Giovannesi, he popped up on our radars four years ago with Alì Blue Eyes [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Claudio Giovannesi
festival scope
film profile
]
, which we came very close to selecting, and now he’s back with Fiore, which is a little masterpiece and will undoubtedly be one of the revelations at Cannes. 

With five French, three Italian, two Chilean, two US and two Canadian titles, you’ve got five countries representing just over three-quarters of your selection, which is fairly unusual.
It’s a rare occurrence, but that’s just how it turned out. We hadn’t expected to have three Italian films, because we took one of them in January, the second at the end of March and the last one just before we announced the selection. But France always has a heavy presence in the Fortnight because there’s a certain amount of pressure – let’s not kid ourselves (laughs) – even if certain movies would probably benefit from waiting a little longer... As for the USA, they have some important titles to offer, as always, and we are extremely lucky to have Paul Schrader’s comeback film and, at the other end of the spectrum, a political documentary on Julian Assange made by Laura Poitras, who won the Oscar in 2015 with Citizenfour [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, her movie about Snowden. Generally speaking, we make our decisions according to the quality of the films, and we even came very close to taking three Chilean movies. We are very much dependent on what we’re shown, and sometimes we react quite strongly. Incidentally, that occasionally spells trouble for us because some people take advantage of our reactions to raise the stakes elsewhere, and sometimes they succeed in doing so. But these things happen...

What about the rest of Europe?
I adored My Life as a Courgette [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Claude Barras
film profile
]
by Swiss director Claude Barras. We also came within an inch of having one or two British films, and there are some interesting filmmakers in the Czech Republic, for example, such as Petr Vaclav. But the trouble I have is not striking a balance between European and global titles, but rather taking the 18 films that I prefer, disregarding any geographical balance. 

The French representatives are fairly new on the scene, aren’t they?
It’s true that Houda Benyamina and Sacha Wolff are relatively unknown, but even though the filmmakers are low-profile, Rachid Djaïdani, who was already in the Fortnight four years ago with Hold Back [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Rachid Djaïdani
festival scope
film profile
]
, and Sébastien Lifshitz, who won a César Award for Best Documentary for Les invisibles [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, are fairly familiar faces. We wanted one or two French feature debuts, and then we wanted to take the films we preferred – those by Rachid Djaïdani, Sébastien Lifshitz and Solveig Anspach.

(Translated from French)

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