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"Film is still attractive even to Internet giants"

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Thierry Frémaux • General Delegate, Cannes Film Festival


- We met up with Thierry Frémaux, the General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, to talk about his 2016 selection

Thierry Frémaux • General Delegate, Cannes Film Festival
(© Philippe Quaisse / Cannes Film Festival)

A day away from the 69th Cannes Film Festival (which will be held from 11 to 22 May 2016), Thierry Frémaux, the General Delegate of the Festival, enlightened Cineuropa on his selection (see article and news item) and his point of view on certain trends in the international film industry.

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Cineuropa: The 2016 Cannes competition includes a large number of very well-known filmmakers and fewer new faces than in previous editions, along with a lot of arthouse films with very big casts. What were the guidelines behind your selection and was it an easy process?
Thierry Frémaux: The selection process was as "easy" and complicated as every year with a selection that depends on the films we receive. So this year, we have arthouse films with big casts. You also can’t judge the selection with sole regard to the competition. But having four new faces in the competition means nothing unless you consider that many filmmakers only come the second time round, or that Bruno Dumont and Nicole Garcia, for example, haven’t come for ten years. And we’ve invited a large majority of people who have never come to Cannes to Un Certain Regard and the special screenings. 

European filmmakers in particular, and North Americans, dominate the competition line-up. What is your take on the current geographical distribution of arthouse films around the world?
It’s the same this year as it was last year. It makes sense to analyse the situation over a five-year period, or even a whole decade, but not over a single year, which doesn’t tell us anything. Overall arthouse film is doing well, and everywhere, not only in Europe or the United States. Korea, Iran and Latin America are big hubs for film.

Five of the films in the Official Selection have been purchased by Amazon. What’s your view of new stakeholders in the film industry and their contribution to the changing way in which films are funded and distributed?
Film is a fluid industry that regularly draws in new operators. Amazon’s arrival is good news economically-speaking, as it is part of a process of renewal of competition, and that’s good news in general as it proves that film is still attractive, even to Internet giants.

France is a driving force in terms of co-production, distribution and international sales of the best arthouse films in the world, but there is a lot of pressure downstream for some of these films to gain access to cinemas under favourable conditions. What’s your opinion on this issue?
I’m not going to answer that question as it’s not my place to comment. What I will say is that this is nothing new and that while there are exhibitors out there who are willing to fight the good fight for multiple screenings of works, there will be no danger to the life force of French film. 

What do you think of the often hostile reactions of international critics to the films you choose?
It used to have an effect on me, but that hasn’t been the case for a long time now, however "hostile" the reactions are. I read a lot of interesting critiques of films, but relatively little on the overall issues associated with Cannes as a lot of nonsense comes out, as was the case last year in particular in two French newspapers. It’s a shame as the press is an essential part of the Cannes Film Festival, but sometimes you’ve just got to throw your hands up and accept that that’s life! So you end up not really caring and getting on with your work.

(Translated from French)


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