Melancholy for missing Cannes

Festival director on how he plans help selected titles

by Richard Mowe

Thierry Frémaux, Cannes Film Festival director: 'We’ve decided to take this difficult situation, which is hitting everyone, as an opportunity to think about the future'
Thierry Frémaux, Cannes Film Festival director: 'We’ve decided to take this difficult situation, which is hitting everyone, as an opportunity to think about the future' Photo: Richard Mowe
On the eve of the day when the Cannes Film Festival should have opened with its traditional red carpet razzmatazz, its artistic director Thierry Frémaux is feeling “a great sense of melancholy and nostalgia".

In an interview with the trade publication Screen he said: “I’ve been going to the festival for 35 years. It’s my job, but beyond that it’s also an amazing convivial, human, artistic and gastronomic event, not just for me but for everyone who goes. Every year, we live an extraordinary experience. On a professional level, I’m facing an unprecedented situation, but with serenity. At the festival, we’ve decided to take this difficult situation, which is hitting everyone, as an opportunity to think about the future.”

Along with the programming team he is working on a list of films that should have been part of the 73rd edition with a view to giving them the Cannes imprint to help their theatrical release between now and spring next year.

He added: “The selection probably won’t be under the usual structured format that we all know with the Competition, Un Certain Regard and Out of Competition sections. It would have been ridiculous to behave as if nothing had happened. But in our heart of hearts what we want to do is promote the films that we saw and loved. We received films from around the world, magnificent works, and it’s our duty to help them find their audience. Once we’ve announced the list, the aim is to start organising events in cinemas. Professionals the world over with whom we’re in contact on a daily basis, tell us that this represents an opportunity for their projects.”

The Festival hopes to announce the list at the beginning of next month.

Frémaux notes that a number of potential submissions have elected to wait for the selection process to begin in the autumn for Cannes 2021, when it is expected jury president Spike Lee will make himself available to take up his duties.

He said: “Lee told us he will be faithful to us, whatever happens. I hope that we’ll be able to make it happen next year.”

As a riposte to those who were critical of the Festival’s delay in announcing its cancellation, Frémaux said: “We didn’t want to simply abandon the field and move onto the 74th edition, leaving behind all those who depend on us. Exposure at Cannes is irreplaceable, but that also confers duties. We want to be there for the day when cinema returns to our lives, to our theatres, and to the public. We are facing an unprecedented situation and we have taken the time to reflect and come up with a redeployment that works for everyone: we have the support of professionals and artists from the world over.”

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