Olivier Père • Directors’ Fortnight
by Fabien Lemercier
Cineuropa: What are the trends for this 40th edition?
Olivier Père: We have selected 22 features, including 15 by directors who are making their Cannes debut. And we are presenting five debut films that will vie for the Camera d’Or. We tried to choose films that stood out on account of their boldness, originality, risk-taking and rhythm. There were a wealth of films to choose from this year and we gave preference to works that expressed a certain urgency. For this is the role of the Directors’ Fortnight.
Have any common themes emerged among the films?
When we select the films, we judge them on their individual merits, but a common panorama and fascinating comparisons always emerge. This year, we’ve seen a strong connection between fiction and documentary, a journey through the world of cinema and reality. Films of very different styles explore the idea of cinema as an art form that is not militant, but engaged, that is in touch with politics, the state of the world and poetics.
Can we speak of a resurgence in Belgian film, with two titles in your selection?
Belgian films have been doing well for the past few years. We’ve selected two auteur films, but they are both very different. Bouli Lanners’ Eldorado [trailer] is a bittersweet comedy, a road movie with an extremely unusual setting. Joachim Lafosse confirms his exceptional talent with Free Student [trailer, film focus], a film that is more conventional in its form, but whose story – harsher perhaps – is disturbing and highly original.
Eastern European films are back with a vengeance.
And this is good news. We are screening a film by Polish master Jerzy Skolimowski, who returns to Poland and makes his cinematic comeback; a third generational film by Romania’s Radu Muntean; a Slovakian debut feature by Juraj Lehotsky, about love between blind people; as well as a Russian film. This year, we’ve seen films from all over the world, with a strong Eastern European and Latin American presence.
The Directors’ Fortnight will screen the only Spanish feature selected at Cannes this year And it’s Catalan (Albert Serra’s El Cant dels ocells). For the third year in a row the Directors’ Fortnight will screen the work of a young Spanish filmmaker. Over the last few years, we’ve shown a real interest in Spanish film. We’ve shown a similar enthusiasm for Italian and Portuguese films and this year we’ve selected titles by Francesco Munzi and Miguel Gomes respectively. But it’s the films themselves that dictate our choices, rather than preconceived ideas or nationalities.
There are five French films on the programme. Is this the ideal number?
It’s less than the number of French titles screened in the previous two editions (six and seven respectively). The fact there are five doesn’t surprise me because there are a lot of fascinating submissions for French auteur film. And even if this year’s line-up features Cannes regulars (Bertrand Bonello, the Larrieu brothers, Claire Simon, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche), these filmmakers are renowned for their independent approach, their style and originality. For the same reason we also chose the work of young director Nicola Sornaga, whose film is extremely free and poetic.
How do you feel about the 40th anniversary of the Directors’ Fortnight?
There is a real coherence between the selections made since 1969 and our 2008 line-up. There is a common thread of auteur films, artistic films and experimental works. We belong to a tradition of avant-garde, modern and economically independent film. In 1969, the Directors’ Fortnight included Glauber Rocha, Fassbinder and Oshima, then came along Haneke, Jarmush, Egoyan and many others: we are proud of this heritage and hope to continue it.
And this anniversary is an opportunity for us to invite to Cannes all those directors whose names are associated with the history of the Directors’ Fortnight. We will also be organising several tributes and retrospectives in theatres across the world until the end of the year.