Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of Cannes, explains the 2019 programming


With the flashy moviegoer meeting on the horizon, the festival 's leader has grown in scale.

A day after the announcement of the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival 2019, the artistic director of Cannes, Thierry Fremaux, still had 25 films to watch. It was always the same story: the most brilliant international gathering in terms of moviegoers is always in a hurry to arrive at the finish line, while Cannes delves into the latest book by great writers and discoveries potential to constitute a programming considered around the world. "I really want to pay attention to everything that is sent," Fremaux said during a phone conversation while he was traveling to another screening. "We want to respect them by observing them all."

The festival is expected to add more films in the coming days, but the May rally already has a lot to do: new works by Terrence Malick, Jim Jarmusch, Xavier Dolan and the Dardenne brothers are joined by newcomers from the competition as Mati Diop and Céline Sciamma. Fremaux spoke to IndieWire about all the issues facing the festival this year, ranging from his push for greater inclusivity to Quentin Tarantino's elusive Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," the current stalemate with Netflix and the future of cinema itself.

Let's start with the number of women in the range. There are four female directors in the competition section and 13 in total in the official selection, which is more than ever. How did it go? Was there a target?

No, because, as I said when we started talking about it, especially at the Cannes Film Festival with Kering's "Women in Motion" project, when we started trying to think about women's place in the film industry, it was fate. At the beginning of Agnès Varda, it was difficult for women to be leaders. More and more, it's not easy, but it's easier. We have more female directors in film schools, universities and the sector. It makes sense that during a festival like Cannes, we had more women over time, because we paid more attention. Regarding the selection process, Agnès Varda said: "I am not a director. I am a woman and I am a director. She said to me, "If you like, never choose a movie, it is directed by a woman." Choose a movie because it's a good movie. "

I hope we will have more and more women in the selection. That's exactly my hope. We have 13 female directors throughout the official selection, but they are here because they deserve it and not because they are women. Of course, there is a jury and whenever possible, even by our own leadership, we pay particular attention to the situation of women.

Last year, the festival made the commitment to strengthen gender equality in programming by 2020 and included that the festival would collect data on the number of women Filmmakers submitted to the festival. Are we going to see those numbers?

Yes, we are of course focused on the selection process, but we are still working with the 5050 × 2020 group and we are working on numbers and statistics. I think maybe in the middle of next week or maybe later, we will have results here. There was no miracle here. It's a start. You know, we have to think about this stuff.

In January, Cannes announced for the first time its entire programming team and revealed that the committee had achieved gender parity for the first time. Given that the festival does not usually reveal its programmers, what was the momentum of the decision taken here?

You know, I've been here long enough. I am the general delegate since 2007, but I am really free since the arrival of [Cannes president] Pierre Lescure [who replaced longtime Cannes president Gilles Jacob in 2014]. It is fairly recent that we can really reopen and reinvent part of the Cannes Film Festival. That's why.

The actresses participate in the premiere of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, France - May 12, 2018, in world premiere of #MeToo #TimeSup Movement & # 39; Girls of the Sun & # 39;

Film industry stars take part in a red carpet event at the premiere of "Girls of the Sun"

James Gourley / REX / Shutterstock

I think that with the transparency of the Parisian team, it is really necessary to show who does what. When my friend Jessica Chastain was part of the jury, she made me think about the need to include 50/50 men and women on the selection committee. Of course, you have the masculine sensibility and the feminine sensibility, in the same way that you have to have different sensibilities of race in the festival. On the selection committee, it was almost over. I just had to put one more woman on the selection board, which we did.

During the press conference, you spoke about the absence of Hirokazu Kore-eda's film, "The Truth", and declared that it was not ready. What other movies did you want to program but could not?

I do not want to talk about that. I do not know why you, the press, have the obsession not to talk about the films we have chosen, but those we do not have. You did it last year. We have many new names in official selection and in competition. I think it's better to talk about the selection rather than the reason why it was not selected. I do not want to explain again how, last year, films that were not in Cannes were elsewhere. At the end of the year, did you write that we were right about our choices? No, but we were right.

But by the way, the Kore-eda movie was really not ready. And I've been honest about Quentin Tarantino – he's almost ready, but not really, really, really ready. I'm still waiting to be sure, but there is a small possibility that we have it.

But go. How many times has an unfinished film been played in Cannes? How must the Tarantino movie be completed to finalize a slot machine at Cannes?

Yes, but you know how Quentin works, and how close he is to his own work, how he respects the audience, how he respects the people he works with and the film in general. He leaves at the end of July. At present, he will not have a film ready two months before its release. The film was only packed last year. It's a very big race at this stage. I know, I went there. I saw part of the movie. I went to his house, where he finished the film, and I know how he really sees this challenge being completed on time. I know that he wants to be in Cannes.

This has nothing to do with the resistance of the studio to the screen in Cannes?

No no. [Sony chairman] Tom Rothman is wonderful in this regard. We exchange emails almost every day and they help everyone. I hope that this whole story will end in Cannes.

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

Rob Latour / Shutterstock

Other media have announced plans to screen the film on the occasion of the "Pulp Fiction" anniversary at the festival. Was this discussed?

No, I am not aware of this idea. Of course, we are establishing this year's program now. But that could be a good thing, to show that the same day that "Pulp Fiction" won. I can easily offer him this gift.

You have two Chinese films in the main selection, "Wild Goose Lake" and "Summer of Changsha". Earlier this year, several films were removed from the Berlin Film Festival for "technical reasons" interpreted as censorship by the Chinese. government. Do you have any concerns about this kind of situation here?

No, I do not suppose that what happened with Zhang Yimou's "One Second" had anything to do with the Chinese authorities, but we checked with those two films we chose to make sure they had permission to see them in Cannes, and this is the case. There is no problem.

About the studios: You present "Rocketman" and at the press conference you chose Paramount President Jim Gianopulos for bringing studio films to the festival over the years. What value do you see for Hollywood studios when they come to the festival?

Well, I mentioned Jim Gianopulos because he's a friend of mine and a friend of Cannes. I owe him a lot, because when I arrived, he brought "Moulin Rouge" and it really seemed to me to be linked to Cannes. It's the same with Sony, Universal, Warner – of course, it's important to have this kind of American movies in Cannes. Last year, we only had two American films competing. Of course, the press wanted to make a statement about it. This year, we have three American films in competition, including the opening film "The Dead Do not Die" by Jim Jarmusch. Maybe there will be four if Quentin is ready. The history of Cannes has also been made by the Hollywood studio factory. I grew up with a lot of American cinema.

Of course, the appeal of the Oscars season has also affected the availability of certain films.

The fact is, I do not like to hear about Oscars only, you know? I like the Oscars. We went to the Oscars with our films, but Cannes' mission is world cinema. Oscar campaigns begin in September in Toronto and Venice. I agree that this is a very important means for the survival of Venice. It was not like that 15 or 20 years ago. Venice now has this strategy to be really linked to the American film campaigns and the Oscars. It's good for me, but in Cannes we have a different program. We have another vision, world cinema, not just American cinema. But last year, Spike Lee in Cannes in May with "BlacKkKlansman" came to the Oscars last February and got his first Academy Award. It is therefore possible to be in Cannes in May and at the Oscars in February.

Let's talk about Netflix. Until now, the rule that the Cannes films of the competition receive theatrical releases in France has prevented Netflix from coming to the festival. But it's not just a Netflix situation. Amazon is starting to experiment with exclusively digital versions and more and more streaming platforms from Disney, Apple and Warner Bros. are on the way. How do you see Cannes evolve to cope with the possibility that more films do not receive any theatrical distribution?

Netflix Content Manager Ted Sarandos poses for photographers after the screening of The Meyerowitz Stories at the 70th International Film Festival in Cannes, South France2017 Departures from Meyerowitz Stories, Cannes, France - May 21, 2017

Ted Sarandos, content director of Netflix, in Cannes in 2017

AP / REX / Shutterstock

Well, you're talking about the American situation. The American situation may be anticipating what might happen in Europe, but it is not yet the case. We still have an independent cinema and people go to the theater. But it is certain that some films, especially those of the Sundance Film Festival, are bought by the platform and go directly to the Internet. Perhaps the platforms are the revenge of Thomas Edison against the Lumière brothers. [laughs] The Enlightenment invented cinema at the same time that Edison invented the cinematograph. Maybe it's the meeting of Light and Edison. I think it's a meeting, because I think it's possible to have great vitality in theaters and on platforms, but these are two different worlds.

If you change the word "platform" to "television", it's the same conversation we've had for years. There have been movies on television. Cannes is talking about world cinema. I watch television and watch cinema. The only thing is that we must pay attention to young people. I'm teaching my kids to go to the theater. You know, I'm one of the biggest Bruce Springsteen collectors in the world. I like the bootlegs. I have everything from him. But nothing like a Bruce Springsteen concert.

It's the 40th anniversary of Apocalypse Now. Do not you think there's nothing like watching "Apocalypse Now" on the big screen? But there are also many good movies that can be seen on the platforms. I am a Netflix subscriber. I look at many things beyond the selection process. They produce a lot of wonderful things. With animators and writers on television, it's very interesting to see how it stimulates the world of cinema.

The Netflix situation in Cannes began two years ago with the brutal reaction of your decision to include "Okja" and "The Meyerowitz Stories" in the Competition section. Looking back, how did you manage it differently?

When I bought these two Netflix movies, I was sure that they would agree to release them in France. So they said no and I fully respect that. They have a business model and they are really focused on that. It's two different worlds. All films can be put in official selection beyond the competition, even if they do not have a theatrical release. But for the competition, we need the film to have a theatrical release. This is the condition. This year is easy because Netflix has no films for the Competition ready in time for us, so there is no discussion. I've checked and many people are in agreement with our position, a lot of filmmakers. It will be very interesting to talk with Bong Joon-ho, who has a film in competition this year [“Parasite”] produced in a traditional way. [Neon is releasing the film in the U.S.]

Xavier Dolan is back in competition with Mattias & Maxime this year. After criticizing his last participation in Cannes, he said he was less likely to return to the festival. What's changed?

Director Xavier DolanXavier Dolan Red Carpet, Rome Film Festival, Italy - Oct 27, 2017

Xavier Dolan

Maria Laura Antonelli / REX / Shutterstock

Xavier Dolan is not afraid at all. He told me that he wanted to be in Cannes. With his latest film [“The Death and Life of John F. Donovan”]it was not ready for Cannes and the film has changed a lot. I saw the movie very early last year, and then it changed a lot of things. He comes back with another movie, but you can not write that he is a regular suspect in Cannes.

The biggest question here is the degree of risk that filmmakers face in Cannes. How do you handle the fear of enlightened critics who could tear up a tattered film?

I do not know if this ever comes from the filmmakers themselves. These are the producers. The filmmakers all want to come to Cannes. They know that there is nothing better than having the movie at the Palace, with this demanding public. Of course, I sometimes make mistakes, but it's pretty rare. Every filmmaker in the world wants to come to Cannes. But sometimes, when the film is very expensive or the release is too far, they do not want to take the risk, but they are only big American movies. But Spike Lee took the risk. Jim Jarmusch takes the risk.

It's kind of inside baseball, but your strategy with the Cannes press shows continues to evolve. Last year, the films of the Competition were presented to the press the day after the gala. This year, you come back with some press screenings, but you select the accredited journalists who attend. What ordered this change?

This is the second step after last year, when many people at the screening were not critics, so the embargo was impossible. We used to allow journalists to have friends with them, and now we say no, it is only press professionals, critics, journalists, who will be allowed to attend the meeting. projection of the press. We always organize it. In Toronto, the press screening takes place the day after the gala. In Cannes, it is at the same time what is better for you. I travel a lot around the world and meet a lot of journalists. We really started talking with people.

You mentioned Varda earlier. No, Jean-Luc Godard is one of the few living connections of the French new wave and a whole period of cinema has grown in France. You run a film museum, the Lumière Institute, in Lyon. In your opinion, what are the future prospects for cinema and Cannes as a whole?

We are movie people, so we believe in it. It would be the same as asking the head of MOMA if he thinks he has a future, because many artists are working on video or elsewhere. You could ask if there was a future for LACMA in Los Angeles or the Louvre in Paris. With the main festivals, including Cannes, the future is magnificent. We see more and more countries in the world where some dream of being administrators. Last year, we created a new [accreditation] For the young people of Cannes, we had 2,000 young people around the age of 20, all from the world of cinema: they wanted to be directors, producers, operators, journalists. So I think the future is really open, warm and full of promising things.

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