Nicole Gillet • General Delegate, Namur International French-Language Film Festival
"It’s flattering to see such a vast range of personalities taking an interest in the Namur Film Festival"
- Cinergie met with Nicole Gillet, the general delegate of the Namur International French-Language Film Festival, to talk about the 34th edition of the event
Alongside the Film Fest Gent and the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF), the Namur International French-Language Film Festival (FIFF) is now considered to be one of the three biggest events connected to the 7th art in Belgium. Founded in 1986, this year sees the Walloon event - held between 27 September and 4 October - reach its 34th edition. As such, it seemed the perfect opportunity to be brought up to speed on the festival by the very woman who has been its general delegate for just about a decade, Nicole Gillet.
Cinergie: During September’s press conference, you announced that the 2019 edition of the festival would be female, engaged and fantasy-based: what does that mean exactly?
Nicole Gillet: Female, firstly, because when you look at the 24 films in the official competition and those which are first works, you can see that there are almost equal numbers of male and female directors. It seems important to highlight that fact, given our signing last year of Collectif 50/50’s 2020 charter, although our film choices are always guided by quality and not by the sex of the director. Engaged, secondly, because French-language films offer innovative outlooks on social issues, such as immigration. Given that the FIFF is geared towards "arthouse films ", themes such as this are a common feature for us, and this engagement can be more significant given the many different outlooks on the world that we offer. It’s good to take things in this direction, it provokes debate and engages the audience.
It’s a known fact that your festival is among the biggest in Belgium. As someone who gets around a fair bit, how do you feel the FIFF is perceived abroad?
Owing to its specificity and its history, its reputation goes well beyond any local or national level. That’s what allows us to draw in some of the biggest names. Over the decades, we’ve been able to develop our notoriety. Our logo can often be seen on posters of films which have won awards at our festival, or ones which were merely selected. Of course, we still have to fight, because you have to innovate continually and listen to the professionals just as much as the general public. For example, we’ve modernised our ticketing services in order to reduce queues, and we organise a number of workshops (for young actors, etc.). We sometimes have a tendency to think that the audience is growing older, but, through FIFF Campus, the festival is proving that students and young people are very much present and have been for years. It’s important that we keep listening to them and that we don’t rest on our laurels. We need to capture emerging trends, and even follow certain talented individuals.
One thing’s for sure: the guest list for this edition is pretty impressive...
It’s true! We’re delighted to be welcoming the multi-César-award-winning André Téchiné as president this year. Our coup de cœur guest is Laetitia Casta who, having started out as a model, has made some interesting, artistic choices in her film career. Alongside those two, without mentioning everyone, I can say that from Yvan Attal to Roschdy Zem, by way of Sami Bouajila, Benjamin Biolay, Arnaud Desplechin, Valérie Donzelli, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Adèle Haenel, Christophe Lambert, Benoît Magimel, Pierre-François Martin-Laval, Chiara Mastroianni, Yannick Renier and Ludivine Sagnier (...), there are some great people in attendance. It’s really quite flattering to see such a vast range of personalities taking an interest in Namur...
Incidentally, you always look to shine a light on Belgian film...
Yes, we always look to showcase Belgian film. We offer at least five feature film premieres, including Cannes’ Golden Camera winner Our Mothers [+see also:
interview: Cesar Diaz
film profile], by César Diaz, as well as other titles which have already been released. Alongside other films as yet unseen in Belgium, I’m thinking about those by Fabrice Du Welz (Adoration [+see also:
interview: Fabrice du Welz
film profile]), Laurent Micheli (Lola [+see also:
interview: Laurent Micheli
film profile]), Véro Cratzborn (Into Dad’s Woods), or that by the Bénédicte Liénard-Mary Jimenez duo (By The Name Of Tania [+see also:
interview: Mary Jimenez, Bénédicte Lié…
We also try to bring about meetings with distributers, exploiters, programmers or even foreign sales agents, to show them these exclusive films. We like to go at it at this level, because even if things are changing a little bit, Belgian audiences won’t always get to see these films, despite the fact they have so many important and interesting things to say! But we carry out this work all through the year, beyond the festival itself, as is also the case for the Caravane du Court, which allows us to show short films in different locations.
(Read the full interview in French here.)
In collaboration with
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.