Anaïs Emery • Managing and Artistic Director, GIFF
"I think audiences look for reflections of our society in series"
- We met with the Swiss festival director, who spoke passionately about this event at the forefront of innovation which offers up an inclusive vision of the seventh art
We seized the opportunity to meet with Anaïs Emery, who is now in her second year at the wheel of the GIFF – the Geneva International Film Festival (running 4-13 November) and who spoke to us about the challenges posed and advances made by digital creation, as well as the love the Genevan festival channels for the seventh art.
Cineuropa: What high points and new additions can we look forward to in this upcoming edition of the GIFF?
Anaïs Emery: This is my second year in charge of the GIFF, it’s a really important stage in the journey which validates the strategies we implemented last year, which was a very complicated edition still marked by Covid. My colleagues and I are trying to position the GIFF as a festival offering up an inclusive vision of the seventh art. This comes through in its programmes, which blend the various audiovisual formats together. The aim is to showcase the major trends in each format when it comes to narrative innovation, genre mixing, and social representation. These are strong works which aren’t too heavily formatted. In terms of novelties, in the International Competition dedicated to series the audience will get to see two episodes of certain series in a cinema setting, before receiving a private link so that they can watch the entire series at home. We’re doing this on a trial basis, but we’re really confident in it because we feel it corresponds to new audiovisual consumer patterns. We want to showcase series as works which unfold over an entire season. For other series where it wasn’t possible to adopt this same system, we felt it was important to show all of their episodes on the big screen. Series which we’re only screening two episodes of, meanwhile, are series which audiences will be able to catch up with on streaming platforms very soon.
Are series still one of GIFF’s strong points?
Yes, series are, but films are too! We offer up works with real strength and originality, works which are connected to society and which ensure audiences experience something unique. I’m mainly thinking of films like Saint Omer [+see also:
interview: Alice Diop
film profile] or The Whale. In terms of digital works, one which stands out to me in particular is Evolver, produced by the very best talent from the world of VR (Atlas V and Marshmallow Laser Feast) and film (Terrence Malick and Pressman Film), and accompanied by Cate Blanchett’s voice and wonderfully high-class music involving well-known artists such as Meredith Monk and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead.
The digital revolution is central to the GIFF. What advantages and dangers does it carry for the seventh art?
I don’t think there’s any danger in people working in the film world taking an interest in and experimenting with digital creation. The technology in question is still in a transitional phase, but the language linked to immersion and interactivity would undoubtedly gain from artistic collaborations with directors and producers of traditional audiovisual works. Clearly, it’s a phenomenon which is in the process of evolving, but I think the biggest risk would be to not take an interest in this revolution. There’s also a risk in having a digital creation industry which isn’t taken in hand by people who have the skills required to tell stories. It’s an industry that isn’t fully structured yet, especially in Switzerland. It’s in development, but we’ll still need a bit more time. I think that all these specific formats, whether we’re talking about films, series or digital creation, co-exist within the same ecosystem. Artists can choose one format or another, depending on the work they want to develop. The barriers between the worlds of TV, series and films, which we once thought were very rigid, are now falling down, despite the fact this would have been unimaginable only ten years ago.
Swiss series have imposed themselves in recent years, thanks to their meticulous aesthetic and powerful, topical themes. What’s the secret of their success, in your option?
I think series are a really exciting artistic development for the local audiovisual industry. They allow directors to tell longer stories, there are different work processes involved, and there’s also the matter of writing, which is central to the creative process when making a series. With series, directors can develop imaginaries which unfold over long periods. I think audiences look for reflections of our society in series, it’s a format which is linked to society, either directly or by means of allegories. One good example of this is Michael Winterbottom’s series This England, which we’re screening at this year’s GIFF.
(Translated from French)
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