Edouard Waintrop • Artistic director, Directors' Fortnight
"You mustn't be afraid of offending people's feelings"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of Cannes Directors' Fortnight, comments on the 2018 selection
We met up with Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of Cannes Directors' Fortnight, the 50th edition of which is due to take place from 9 to 19 May as part of the 71st Cannes Film Festival (read the article here). This is Waintrop's last year at the helm after seven years in the role.
Cineuropa: Did the fact that this is your last edition as artistic director change your approach to selecting films?
Edouard Waintrop: I don't think so, no. I tried to make it more fun for myself, but the selection process is a long process. There are some films that we keep, some we don't and some good and bad surprises along the way. There aren’t 36 different ways of selecting films for the Directors' Fortnight. You musn't be afraid of offending people's feelings, sometimes you end up annoying people, but you really do need to be as honest as possible. Some films were booked up very quickly because people knew that they were on the radar for the festival’s Official Selection. Others we waited for – some of them we got and some we didn't. It's always the same process.
There seems to be a lot of diversity of genre in this year’s selection, something that is very dear to you.
There's a bit of everything! A poetic animated film by Mamoru Hosoda, a vengeful thriller action film, brought to life by Panos Cosmatos, two entirely different French comedies, an adventure/Conradian war film by Guillaume Nicloux, a documentary that includes three different types of media (from realism to animation, via the use of some drone imagery), a film from another planet by Gaspar Noé, which flips everything on its head, etc. It's a very diverse selection, but overall, I’d say that the films are all pretty pessimistic, including the funny ones. There’s also a saga about drug traffickers with Birds of Passage [+see also:
film profile] by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, a very grandiose film, both epic and tragic, about the almost complete destruction of a family, documenting its rise and fall, with a hint of The Godfather about it.
There are only two debut feature films in this year’s selection of 20 films. Why is that?
We had less to choose from than usual, and we chose two films that are very different. One of them, Treat Me Like Fire [+see also:
interview: Marie Monge
film profile] by Marie Mongewith, starring Tahar Rahim and Stacy Martin, is a film at the limits of the detective genre. While the other, Carmen y Lola [+see also:
interview: Arantxa Echevarría
film profile] by Arantxa Echevarria,is a neo-naturalist film, and is a very powerful love story about two women in the gypsy community, starring a cast of non-professional actors.
There are also two Italian films in the selection.
The vitality of Italian cinema is ever apparent, even if Samouni Road [+see also:
interview: Stefano Savona
film profile] by Stefano Savona is set in Gaza. There are a lot of very good Italian documentarians around at the moment, too, such as those by Minervini, Rosi and Savona. The other film, Lucia's Grace [+see also:
film profile] by Gianni Zanasi, starring Alba Rohrwacher, is more quintissentially Italian. We also had the chance to watch some of the other Italian films that are in other sections and there are some good ones...
Spain is represented by Carmen y Lola and Petra [+see also:
interview: Jaime Rosales
In my opinion, this is the next level in Jaime Rosales' career, who has often been tossed between the Directors' Fortnight and the Un Certain Regard section. I think that Petra deserved the competition. It’s the portrait of a very intelligent Catalonian middle-class family, in which the male head of the household is a world-renowned artist. While watching the film, you begin to realise that he’s actually much worse than some of the bankers you see in American films. It’s a magnificently cruel film, put together with great skill and some incredible actors, such as Bárbara Lennie, Brendemühl, Marisa Paredes.
What about the five French directors in the selection?
I already mentioned Nicloux and Marie Monge's films. There are also two comedies, The Trouble With You [+see also:
film profile] by the excellent Pierre Salvadori and The World is yours [+see also:
interview: Romain Gavras
film profile] by Romain Gavras, whichwesaw very early on in the selection process and opted for right away, a very funny Jim Thompson-esque detective film. As for Amin [+see also:
interview: Philippe Faucon
film profile] by Philippe Faucon, he has a style that allows him to really stick to his story, which is about a Senegalese immigrant in France. The director is able to evoke the feelings and emotions of everyday life, especially love. The simplicity with which problems are presented is very impactful.
Europe also makes an appearance with The Load [+see also:
interview: Ognjen Glavonić
film profile] by the Serbian director Ognjen Glavonic.
This is one of the first films we chose. The main actor has an extraordinary presence and hands over his offering like a letter to the post office. It's a way of talking about something horrific without actually showing it. This has a very strong effect on the viewer, who is constantly surrounded by images of violence these days. It’s rather intimate at this level, the way that Ciro Guerra shows the reasons for violence and its consequences, but never the violence itself – probably because the two countries have experienced some very extreme violence in the past.
Has the fact that this is your last edition as artistic director changed your attitude in the fight with other sections to attract films?
It gave me a certain distance. When I think about the things that some people say about the Directors' Fortnight, I get a bit irritated. Saying or writing that the Directors' Fortnight is for films rejected by the festival’s Official Selection is absolutely not the case. Some of the Official Selection's choices actually come from the Directors' Fortnight. And the masters of cinema are very skilled in using us against each other.
(Translated from French)
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