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"When we spot a filmmaker, we aim to help them out over time"

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Nadia Paschetto • Director, Arras Film Festival

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- We met up with Nadia Paschetto, director of the 18th edition of the Arras Film Festival, which is running from 3-12 November

Nadia Paschetto  • Director, Arras Film Festival

Nadia Paschetto is the co-founder and director of the 13th edition of Arras Film Festival, which kicks off today (read the news here) in Arras. Paschetto runs the festival along with managing director Eric Miot and took some time to talk to us about the various aspects of an event that promotes emerging young French talent in European cinema.

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Cineuropa: How do you go about balancing the programming of European cinema with some of the more popular premieres?
Nadia Paschetto
: Our main aim is to ensure that there is something for all tastes and ages. We also think that viewers who are used to going to the cinema are more likely to watch European films, so we aim to get people who maybe go to see films less often feeling more passionate about cinema by screening quality French films that attract a wider audience. That way they're carried by the festival atmosphere and a confidence in the programme, and therefore end up taking the plunge with new films. That’s the spirit that the programme is based on, so that bridges are created. It's a gamble on diversity.

What are your selection criteria for your strictly European sections: the international competition, "European discoveries" and "Visions of the East"?
For the competition, we’re looking for nine unreleased films in France, which have no French distributor and have often only had one international premiere, or have only been screened in their native country, such as this year's The Benefit of the Doubt [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Samuel Tilman
film profile
]
by Samuel Tilman. Sometimes these films are made by directors that we have already spotted and whose careers we’re following, such as Arrhythmia [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Boris Khlebnikov
film profile
]
by Boris Khlebnikov, or films that have progressed to the project stage at Arras Days – our development aid platform – which has overseen the development of Zagros [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Sahim Omar Kalifa
film profile
]
by Sahim Omar Kalifa and Breaking News [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Iulia Rugină
film profile
]
by Iulia Rugina. But there are also new films to discover, such as The Miner [+see also:
film review
interview: Hanna Slak
film profile
]
by Slovenia's Hanna Slak. We like films that talk to us about real social issues. We are also very focused on the quality of acting. Finally, even if our hearts still lean heavily towards Eastern Europe, we try to ensure that we include films from Northern Europe and neighbouring territories such as Belgium in competition. For the "European Discoveries" and "Visions of the East" sections, we work closely with distributors as they tend to be the films that will be released in France in the two-three months following the festival.

How do you feel when you see packed screenings and enthusiastic audiences for European films that sometimes aren't able to find distribution in France?
We are doing a lot of work in this area, for example, the Golden Atlas, awarded by the jury comes with €12,000 in prize money for the distributor who decides to acquire the rights to the film for France in the 12 months following the festival. The same goes for the Audience Award, which comes with €5,000 in prize money. Every year, the two films that win these awards find a distributor. This is a very useful boost for films like the ones we place in our programme, because they need to be in the press and they are often distributed by companies that do not necessarily have the means to pay for big release campaigns. We have also set up a platform on Cinando to help professionals find films without a distributor.

What's the philosophy behind the Arras Days professional platform?
We don't make calls for projects, in the same way that we don’t make calls for films. We prefer to start with a clean slate and then go out and find the films. We suggest that European filmmakers selected for the festival apply for selection at Arras Days if they, or their producer, have a new writing project on the cards. This is the director follow-up: when we have spotted a filmmaker, we aim to help them out over time. It might involve something as preliminary as a treatment, with some pictures and a note of intent. Directors then come to pitch the project to a jury of professionals. As this is the first time that they'll be unveiling their project, it ends up being a sort of trial run for them, a way to break in their speeches, and possibly rectify things following feedback from the jury. We also invite French producers who are likely to invest in co-production to Arras Days. There will be eight projects this year competing for two development aid grants, one for €8,000 euros awarded by the CNC, and the other for €5,000 euros awarded by the city of Arras.

(Translated from French)

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