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Charles Tesson • General Delegate, Critics’ Week

“What is possible and different in today’s cinema”

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- Charles Tesson, General Delegate of the Cannes Critics’ Week, comments on his selection for 2014

Charles Tesson  • General Delegate, Critics’ Week

Cineuropa met up with Charles Tesson, General Delegate of the Critics’ Week, whose 53rd edition will be taking place from 15-23 May as part of the 67th Cannes Festival. Taking the reins for the third year in a row, the former editor-in-chief of Cahiers du cinéma magazine breaks down his selection for 2014, focusing particularly on the European feature films.

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Cineuropa: In light of all the first and second feature films that you viewed during the selection process, has the average quality level of the titles been affected by economic pressures?
Charles Tesson: I didn’t sense a significant drop in the films that were put forward to us. In fact, I even think that the level was exceptionally high in terms of the titles that got onto the shortlist and the range of choice that we had. It was only Asia that was perhaps a little weaker, but we mustn’t draw any conclusions from that, because it may be short-lived. 

What is the editorial policy of your selection?
To build up a mosaic or a puzzle that makes up a face, to play upon the complementary nature of the films so that, together, they give an image of what is possible and different in today’s cinema. 

And what about young European cinema this year?
As we are very restricted in terms of the number of films, we obviously aren’t able to represent every single country, especially not European ones. However, this year, Europe, with its four French films, one Italian one, one Danish one and one Ukrainian one, is almost over-represented compared to the rest of the world. With the selection of Più buio di mezzanotte [+see also:
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, it means we’re taking an Italian film for the second year in a row, which is very unusual: in a country that people say is going through a crisis, with a struggling film industry, there are promising and encouraging things happening among young filmmakers. On the other hand, we haven’t had what we normally tend to receive from young German cinema, which had no film whatsoever on the shortlist – and it’s the same for Spain. As for Romania, one might wonder whether the shadow cast by the masters of cinema there is maybe not a little too overpowering for the younger filmmakers. Then again, England presented several very solid films, but we made our decisions and preferred to opt for the Italian film, Denmark’s When Animals Dream [+see also:
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and the Ukrainian title The Tribe, which are very strong and have something very original to offer. More broadly, there are some territories in Europe that are able to be represented at the event every three or four years, while others can put forward five or six films every year.

France is very well represented in your selection. Was there a wide range to choose from?
At the end of the day, it was tough to make almost all of the good films happy, which reassures us about the state of French cinema. Out of the four French films that we selected, three are second features because, if you consider that the feature debut is important, the second is absolutely crucial: everything grinds to a halt if the filmmaker doesn’t manage to move up an extra notch. FLA [+see also:
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by Djinn Carrénard is a very strong title in terms of its language, ambition and freshness. Thomas Lilti’s Hippocrate [+see also:
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follows in the tradition of socially orientated cinema and tackles a social topic (the hospital crisis) by “fictionalising” a very documentary-like subject. Respire [+see also:
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by Mélanie Laurent is a film by an actress that concerns itself with the relationships between the characters and focuses on human existence through a number of portraits. Lastly, in competition is Hope [+see also:
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by Boris Lojkine, which presents a kind of French cinema that travels to other countries – African ones, in this case. All four films say something about the diversity that can be found in French cinema today.

(Translated from French)

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