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LES ARCS 2021 Industry Village

Jérémy Zelnik • Director de eventos profesionales, Festival de Les Arcs

"Buscamos películas que no figuran en los radares de nadie"

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- Con sus aclamadas secciones Work in Progress y Village des Coproductions, la feminización del panorama y la incubación de talentos, el Festival de Les Arcs gana en todos los slaloms

Jérémy Zelnik  • Director de eventos profesionales, Festival de Les Arcs

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

We met with Jérémy Zelnik, the director of professional events and the co-founder of the Savoy gathering, on the eve of the 13th Les Arcs Film Festival (read our article on the event’s movie selection, our news on the Co-Production Village and Talent Village, and our piece on the Work in Progress section).

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Cineuropa: Looking at this year’s selections in the Co-Production Village and the Work in Progress section, how would you explain the current trends we’re seeing in the European film industry as it grapples with the consequences of the pandemic?
Jérémy Zelnik: The number of submissions we were sent for the Co-Production Village - 221 feature films in development – is more or less the same figure as in previous editions, with a greater number of projects hailing from northern and eastern Europe, as always. But we received far more proposals than usual for the Work in Progress section: 164 in all, compared to the usual sum of 120-100. So it seems there were lots of films shot over the summer, which confirms that, even though the industry still has a few hurdles to overcome, and there’s no denying the generalised anxiety levels we’re experiencing, these issues aren’t yet overwhelming. The Work in Progress section, which is of excellent quality this year, will also be slightly different, given that Eurimages will no longer be awarding their prize within the line-up, which made some of the film selection a bit edgy.

I should also point out that 34% of the projects we received for the Co-Production Village were initiated by women, and eight of these were selected; in other words, 44% of the 18 projects selected. And 8 of the 15 films in the Work in Progress showcase (that is, 53% of the selection) were made by women, despite them only constituting 38% of the applicant feature films. That said, we don’t have any particular policy on quotas: it’s quality that counts.

We also noticed, on a more general level, that many projects and films in post-production have female lead characters. And there’s another new phenomenon impacting both the Village and the WiP event: filmmakers are leaning towards subjects concerning the future of the planet and revolving around dystopias, science-fiction and the environment, explored through each author’s individual fiction approach.

Many of the films which feature in your Work in Progress section are subsequently screened in major festivals. How big an impact does this have on the event?
Without a doubt, this is one of the reasons we receive so many submissions: we have a pretty impressive track record for our past few editions, especially this year in Cannes (news), Venice and Locarno. We’re known for it; in fact, all of the industry’s sales agents will be attending the festival as of tomorrow. It does obviously have an impact because we’ve become a crucial milestone, an ideal time in people’s diaries. When they don’t really need an international sales agent at the financing stage, producers tend to wait for our Work in Progress event in order to boost competition. It’s a virtuous circle because it helps to ensure we receive plenty of high-quality projects.

In all our selections, we try to ensure there’s a mix and that we don’t only showcase well-established names. That’s why, out of the eight selected filmmakers bringing their first film projects to the Talent Village, there’s the winner of the most recent Clermont-Ferrand Festival and the champion of this year’s Cannes Cinéfondation competition, but there are also some far less recognisable filmmakers whose short films we really like. Similarly, in the Work in Progress section, Frédéric Boyer, Lison Hervé and I look for films which aren’t on anyone’s radar and which no-one has noticed. Obviously, we also select films coming from co-production markets, which are highly anticipated and whose first images are so wonderful that we’re delighted to screen them. But we also like to offer up a few surprises: it’s in our DNA.

You’ve selected 18 projects for this year’s Co-Production Village, versus 20-22 in previous editions. Why this slight decrease?
We thought it best to raise our quality standards even more, but we also want to carry out more groundwork in order to help these projects better prepare themselves for the market. In this sense, we’re offering upstream help to all our selected projects in the form of 30-minute sessions with a review board in order to help them prepare as best they can for their meetings at Les Arcs, and to hear what we think of their projects, etc. We want to push things even further in terms of the support we offer projects and what we’re already doing with young filmmakers from the Talent Village who are taking part in a three-day workshop ahead of the Industry Village, which consists of meetings with a sales agent, with a female producer and with a musical supervisor. This tailored approach is also something we offer our selected Work in Progress participants as soon as their applications are successful, with regard to the extracts they choose to show at Les Arcs.

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(Traducción del francés)

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