Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin • Managing director, Les Arcs Film Festival
"The spirit of Les Arcs is to stand up for quality cinema and play an active part in the creative process"
- Two days before the tenth Les Arcs Film Festival kicks off, Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, the event’s managing director and co-founder, casts a glance at its past and present
Two days ahead of the opening ceremony of the tenth Les Arcs Film Festival (15-22 December), Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, the managing director and co-founder of the event, together with Guillaume Calop, casts a glance at its past and present.
Cineuropa: Over the course of ten years, the Les Arcs Film Festival has established itself as a highly popular event among European professionals. What are the reasons for its success?
Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin: To quote The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino, "The boldest undertakings are born of the simplest spirit," and that’s kind of the idea behind the story of how the Les Arcs Film Festival came about: we wanted to create a space dedicated to European film in one of the most magnificent places in the Alps, spotlight creation and have a real village mentality. Because unlike big festivals, we do not split people up: we get together and exchange views without making a distinction in terms of categories, VIPs or what have you. Everybody is treated on an equal footing, and everyone is able to meet everybody else. It’s precisely this spirit that has appealed to everyone who has come in the past and who has then returned subsequently. Today, we are welcoming just over 1,000 professionals, and we make sure that the people who come share Les Arcs’ mentality: standing up for quality cinema, and playing an active part in the creative process and the funding of works. We are not a festival where glitz and glamour take priority over creativity, the quality of the films, the talents, and respect for the work of those people who ensure that the movies get made.
The structure of the festival, from the upstream stages with the Coproduction Village to the later stages with the actual screenings of the works, via Work in Progress, gives you a privileged vantage point to evaluate the trends in European production. What have the major developments been in the last ten years?
When we began, the financial crisis was just starting to unfold all over the world, and especially in Europe. The film industry has been affected noticeably since 2010-2011, and certain countries have taken a huge step backwards, particularly in Southern Europe: Spain, Greece and, to a certain extent, Italy at one point. We’ve also witnessed how the funding systems are being transformed. Today, there has been a reduction in public funding in a lot of European countries, though it’s obviously very variable. There’s also considerable importance attached to the national systems – the television channels tend to format the film offerings somewhat, which therefore means that there are fewer strong, innovative titles. In addition to this, there is heightened competition from TV series, which have hoovered up a lot of the talents from cinema. On the whole, funding is tending to get scarcer, including abroad, because it’s tougher for sales agents. And then you’ve got new platforms springing up… It’s easy to see that there is a tectonic shift happening at the moment: new sources of financing are arriving, but they are not stable yet, and we’re in the middle of legislating with regard to the way in which they will invest. We in Europe find ourselves at the beginning of this structuring process, but we’re still managing to make a lot of films, and that’s fortunate. Inevitably, some nations are better off than others, such as the Nordic countries, Belgium, France, Germany and the English-speaking countries, and certain nations in Eastern Europe have also been managing to get by, often with more public investment – Hungary, for instance. What we are looking for at Les Arcs are projects that have potential thanks to their uniqueness and the talents that they rely on.
As a matter of fact, this year you are launching the Talent Village. Why?
Formerly, we had the School Village, where we worked directly with European film schools: each one would send us a student with his or her feature-debut project. We decided to make some changes to this model and check out ourselves which short films have been made in Europe over the last few years. In this way, we can pinpoint directors who already have their own hallmark and perhaps have something new to offer cinematically, and capitalise on them by giving them every possible chance to follow through with their ambitions. Because we know that you often have to give up on a lot of things during the production process and that the more complicated the path, the slower the projects make progress, especially during the funding stage today, with TV channels and distributors tending to be on the lookout for popular films with a broader scope – not the most risky and innovative projects, at any rate. But we wish to support this type of movie and to help these young filmmakers to get their projects off the ground by allowing them to meet the right people, by setting up an interesting form of tutoring, by putting them in touch with crew members who will come on board to enrich their projects, and so on. Thomas Vinterberg is set to sponsor this first batch of participants and will come along to give a master class. Then the projects will be introduced to the market at Les Arcs, buoyed by a true spirit of goodwill.
(Translated from French)
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