Paolo Moretti • Delegate General of Directors’ Fortnight
"The fact that we haven’t announced anything publicly doesn’t mean we haven’t done anything for our films"
- Directors’ Fortnight delegate general Paolo Moretti explains his decision not to award films with the label of the parallel section in the absence of a physical edition in Cannes
Forced to abandon the organisation of the 2020 Directors’ Fortnight as a result of the health crisis, Paolo Moretti has likewise chosen not to unveil his selected film list, unlike the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Selection (article), Critics’ Week (news) and the ACID line-up (news). The delegate general of Cannes’ parallel section sheds light on his decision.
Cineuropa: Once you knew the 2020 edition of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight couldn’t go ahead as planned, how did you decide whether to award your films with labels?
Paolo Moretti: We were open to all options in mid-April, when we made that announcement in league with the other parallel sections and when we all found ourselves mired in the same uncertainty. But we don’t make decisions alone because we’re here, first and foremost, to serve the films. As we talked with the teams, producers and sales agents of the films we’d identified, pre-selected and, in certain cases, already selected, the first thing we realised was that making a selection and organising a virtual event wouldn’t be an option for us. So we decided to complete the selection process, to get through all the films which were submitted to us and which were delayed in the post-production phase, moreover. By mid-May we’d finished, and we sent confidential communications to a reduced number of teams to express our admiration for their works and to relay our positive feedback, but also to ask them to stay in contact with us because things were still up in the air. Most of these films didn’t know what to do: should they be released before the year was out? Should they try their luck with other festivals? Would these festivals accept a labelled film? Within this shortlist letter, we offered to help them redesign their strategies. If they wanted to try other festivals, they were clearly free to do so; if they preferred to wait for the 2021 edition, we’d pick up discussions where we’d left off. Either way, we remain open to all options. We’re aware that films might make decisions later on in the year and, in such an event, we might subsequently announce our support for them and help them with the cinema release of their films. A considerable number of films are still developing their strategies, notably as regards the right time for their public launch. We didn’t have enough material to put together a coherent programme, based upon the selection work we’d carried out. But since the letter we sent officially states the interest the Directors’ Fortnight has in these films, it should carry some value and be quite useful for institutional and market relations, as well as for funding requests for future projects. This information can also be communicated within the industry so as to better attract the attention of buyers, as well as other festivals. We hope that communicating the Directors’ Fortnight interest in these films will ultimately be of benefit to them and that it will have a positive impact. The fact that we haven’t announced anything publicly doesn’t mean we haven’t done anything for the films.
Did the special Cannes status of the Directors’ Fortnight - which was born in a spirit of independence and is steered by the filmmakers of the SRF - play any part in this decision?
The SRF allows the Directors’ Fortnight great operational autonomy, though I obviously kept the association posted as events unfolded, and on the evolution of our decision. We and the other Cannes sections share exactly the same concerns for these films which could and should have been launched in Cannes this year. Each of us reacted in line with the particular issues at stake and I think we all did the best we could for the films that we were in discussions with. It’s not about autonomy or a distance between us, it’s a question of relevance, and coherence between the films and the aims of each selection. Different minds express themselves in Cannes and are embodied by the different line-ups - the different action each section takes is guided entirely by this fact.
What are your own feelings on having to abandon this year’s event?
I feel great sadness, clearly. But great sadness for something which was inevitable. I feel a certain sense of acceptance too, as well as a great desire to get things moving again. It’s a real mix of emotions. This is the first time the Directors’ Fortnight has ever been cancelled, so it wasn’t a straightforward decision and the whole team really struggled and explored all options before reaching it. But it’s a decision commensurate with the current state of the world, so we’re getting things in perspective. There are thousands of people still dying around the world because of this illness; our situation is far from the worst.
(Translated from French)
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