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Fribourg, a triple heritage

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Thierry Jobin • Artistic director of the Fribourg Film Festival

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- "Fribourg is, first of all, a form of curiosity, of taste for marginal cinematography"

Thierry Jobin • Artistic director of the Fribourg Film Festival

A film critic for over 25 years, notably for the Swiss weekly Le Temps, Thierry Jobin had often covered the Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) but now, from March 24 to 31, he will live the event from a completely different angle as he has become its new artistic director.

In a few words, could you tell us what will be special about your Fribourg Film Festival?
Thierry Jobin: Above all, I depend on all that has preceded me. Fribourg is, first of all, a form of curiosity, of taste for marginal cinematography. Whether it be with a focus on Bangladesh or the internatinal competition, the festival will remain a place to discover cinematography from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. On the other hand, there is also the more modern heritage from Edouard Waintrop [who has become director for the Grütli Cinemas in Geneva and the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes], who refreshed the event entirely by introducing classic cinema and genre films to it. As these two tendencies are in me, I have tried to skilfully blend them both, to find a certain balance.

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We can imagine other heritages as far as you are concerned. You were a cinema critic for 25 years…
Generally, we also inherit everything that we meet in life. I first fell in love with cinema not in a cinematheque, but from the province. In Geneva or Lausanne, or in Paris, you could see all Hitchcock’s films in one go, or all of Bergman’s. But when you lived in the far-flung canton of Jura, at the time, it was not so easy to find films. I went to see classics in Belfort, in Bâle, in Bienne. I found VHS tapes, I watched the cine-clubs on television, then I saw them again on a wide screen when I could get to a bigger town. What this provoked was a sort of love for cinema that is “generous”, curious. I have tried to keep the festival in line with this, so that it doesn’t give the impression of being blasé. This is also why I wanted there to be two or three wild cards. And filmmaker Georges Schwizgebel made a great selection of animation films.

After several years as a film critic you have become a festival director. How does this make you feel?
I feel the same thrill as when I started to love cinema and I sometimes had to wait weeks and weeks before I could discover certain films. There’s quite an “Indiana Jones” side to finding films for the programme. To find about ten, you have to watch about 2,000.

The Fribourg Film Festival has noticably changed direction in the last few years. It’s more open, less centered on the South. Don’t you fear that the event’s identity will become less clear than in the past?
Of course, as it is Fribourg, you can no longer speak of a festival for films from the third world. You can no longer speak of a festival of films from the South. It doesn’t exist anymore. For me, films from the South are also Swiss films that are not released. I also think that precariousness is the most shared value worldwide. For me, the definition of this festival is that it’s a place where people don’t only exchange glances - they have been doing this for years - but also really look at each other.

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