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CANNES 2024 Quinzaine des Cinéastes

Julien Rejl • Delegato generale, Quinzaine des Cinéastes

"Passeremo di sorpresa in sorpresa, di imprevisto in imprevisto"

di 

- Il delegato generale della Quinzaine des Cinéastes di Cannes parla della sua selezione 2024 e fa luce sul dibattito sulla sua linea editoriale

Julien Rejl • Delegato generale, Quinzaine des Cinéastes
(© Florent Drillon)

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After the unveiling of the 56th Directors’ Fortnight (from 15 to 25 May during the 77th Cannes Film Festival – read the article), Cineuropa met in Paris with general delegate Julien Rejl.

Cineuropa: Last year you launched a clear change in the editorial line of the Directors’ Fortnight, which has been perceived as radical by some and as a return to the programme’s roots by others. Your 2024 selection seems to continue in this direction. How do you define it?
Julien Rejl: That depends on what we mean by radical. If we are referring to cutting-edge cinema aimed at a happy few or at connoisseurs, I disagree with this understanding because I don’t feel that the films we have chosen are of this nature. Last year, there was a rumour coming from certain professionals because some were disappointed that their films had not been selected and, to protect themselves, they claimed the selection to be too radical. But when the films were discovered on site in Cannes, the audience at the screenings as well as the distributors realised that these films weren’t all that complicated.

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I’ve always thought that the Directors’ Fortnight had to represent films that could reach all audiences, as much a cinema that can be considered very art house as one that we could call more popular. But the Fortnight isn’t a market, that’s its specificity within the Cannes Film Festival: it’s a selection open to the spectators that presents films of a great variety and that we don’t find elsewhere in other Cannes selections. That’s the Fortnight identity. And for those who find our selection too radical, I will remind that Thierry Frémaux, during his press conference, presented Un Certain Regard as having “a vocation to present radical and researched cinema”. If Thierry affirms it this way, it’s because he himself believes that a cinema of that kind has its rightful place in a selection. So this perception of the market regarding our so-called radicality is false, it doesn’t match reality. We are here to discover films, some come from sales agents, others from distributors, others still from nowhere, and it’s the mix of all this that makes the richness of the Fortnight.

When talking about your 2024 selection, you mentioned “bets, some personal favourites and even films that divided the selection committee”.
I try to create a real editorial line made up of films that manifest very strong tastes and correspond to my understanding of cinema. Some films are sometimes very consensual, but others, whose cinematic craft is undeniable, truly create division between those who love and those who hate them. It’s also my job as artistic director to take these films on. During their Cannes presentations, some people will come out of the screening saying they loved it, others that it was horrible, but something will have taken place, this creates debate. An editorial line means making bets in order to not be consensual and always in agreement on all the films of the selection.

What diversity can we expect from your selection?
For instance, there will be social drama with the Taiwanese film Mongrel [+leggi anche:
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, some films with roots in the thriller genre and in 70s cinema with the American film Gazer and the Danish production To a Land Unknown [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Mahdi Fleifel
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 from Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel, the Japanese animated film for all audiences Ghost Cat Anzu [+leggi anche:
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, Visiting Hours [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Patricia Mazuy
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 by Patricia Mazuy which is at once a social thriller and a completely feminist film, This Life of Mine [+leggi anche:
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 by Sophie Fillières which starts off as a comedy and suddenly transforms into a drama, a vampire revenge film with Sister Midnight [+leggi anche:
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, as well as a trash comedy with Plastic Guns [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Jean-Christophe Meurisse
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by Jean-Christophe Meurisse. And on the documentary side, we will have some immersive cinema with the Brazilian film The Falling Sky [+leggi anche:
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 and some hybrid with Savanna and the Mountain [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Paulo Carneiro
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by Portuguese director Paulo Carneiro, centred on a political struggle in a small village and which repurposes the codes of the Western genre and the musical. This didn’t come from a particular desire to have a film from each genre. But as a cinephile, I am interested in a variety of propositions and I am very happy because spectators will be able to go from one film to another that have almost nothing in common with each other. We will go from surprise to surprise, unexpected to unexpected. The Fortnight doesn’t highlight one particular cinema but rather the whole array of cinematic typologies (not themes) that one can see and also have fun with.

When it comes to European cinema, you have selected French films, as well as one Spanish and one Portuguese film. We can add to this list Mahdi Fleifel’s Danish production as well as the British production from Indian filmmaker Karan Khandari. What about the other countries from the Old Continent?
Amongst the propositions that we noticed, there was again a lot of great Belgian cinema. We also received some very beautiful Nordic films, in particular from Norway, as well as some Czech productions that were discussed up until the end. On the other hand, we had less surprises coming from the young Italian cinema side, for instance.

Does your selection strategy that limits the usual influence of sales companies and distributors earn you enmity?
You’d have to ask them. Those that weren’t represented last year but are present this year are very happy, so there is a cyclical effect. What this tension reflects most of all is that, for these art films, not being in Cannes is a major handicap to their lifespans. I am well aware of that, especially as a former distributor, and I know that when I say no to films that are already in the market and need a showcase and some light, that means for them less chances to get noticed and find an audience. But once again, my primary role isn’t to be in that continuity, but rather to be in a mode of discovery, to bet on the authors of tomorrow who seem to me the strongest. Nevertheless, and this isn’t related to the Fortnight, there is also a general context of tension around the fact of getting a spot here or there in order to exist. There will therefore automatically always be small antagonisms, but when a film is selected, that’s forgotten about. One must also remember that ¾ of the films we receive at the Fortnight are without distributors and/or sales agents, and are therefore not yet on the market. My job is to give a chance to all films. Some films already have sales agents and distributors, but others, and many, come to Cannes precisely to find new partners.

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