Laurent Crouzeix • General Delegate, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival
"At Clermont, everyone takes short films very seriously, without taking themselves too seriously"
- General Delegate of Clermont-Ferrand Laurent Crouzeix took some time out to tell us about what we can expect for the forthcoming edition of the gathering
Due to celebrate its 40th year when it takes place between 2 and 11 February 2018, the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival retains a reputation as the biggest and most important short-film festival in the world. This is not only in terms of industry – with more than 3,500 delegates expected to attend – but also in terms of its audience. Last year’s audience of 162,000 makes it the largest film event in France, second only to Cannes.
General Delegate of Clermont-Ferrand Laurent Crouzeix took some time out to tell us about what we can expect for the forthcoming edition.
Cineruopa: Tell us about some of the highlights of this year’s Clermont IFF during its 40th anniversary.
Laurent Crouzeix: The festival audience will get to see 154 great new shorts in our three competitions, National, International and the Lab, where cross-discipline, cutting-edge works are showcased. Switzerland will be the country in focus. Actually, the very first retrospective in the history of the festival was dedicated to Switzerland, back in 1982. So this will be like a journey through time and space into the cinema of the Swiss Confederation in 23 films, from 1977 to the present.
The “Face Forward” retrospective will pay tribute to actors. It will indirectly look back at how the festival has brought new faces to the big screen over the years. Many have become familiar faces in French or world cinema (Karin Viard, Maïwenn, Hiam Abbas, François Cluzet...) already, while others are clearly starting to build successful careers (Kacey Mottet Klein, Vimala Pons, Estéban...).
Locally, the festival poster has always been a great source of pride and discussion in town. For the first time, we’re putting on an exhibit called “The 1st Image” – 40 years of festival artwork. The iconoclastic TV show Groland, based on a fictional country that is officially twinned with the Clermont-Ferrand Festival, will come to celebrate its own 25th anniversary at the festival.
It’s also the 33rd year of the market – how is the health of the market for short films at the moment, and how is this reflected in Clermont’s market?
The market for shorts is more international than ever. It’s a great opportunity for European productions – all European countries are represented in the 8,000+ recent titles that registered for the market. Traditional broadcasters still play a major role in acquisitions and pre-sales. Digital/online platforms are increasingly looking for new titles – although the business models they offer are often not yet fully sustainable. The market is essential to give short films an international platform in terms of circulation. It’s also very valuable in exploring niche markets like public libraries.
This year also marks the tenth year of Euro Connection. Can you tell us a little bit more about it and some of its successes in the past?
Fifteen new projects will be pitched to an audience of 150 European producers, broadcasters and potential backers. It’s a very creative set of projects, including fiction and some animated documentaries this year. As always, Euro Connection will bring together established companies (such as Nordisk Film Production Sverige from Sweden, Walking the Dog from Belgium and Exitfilm from Estonia) with solidly emerging producers. Producers from past editions of Euro Connection will share feedback on co-production during a panel hosted by Lithuanian producer and Baltic Pitching Forum organiser Marija Razgute.
Some completed co-productions will be showcased at the festival, including Katarzyna Gondek’s Sundance-selected Deer Boy and the multi-award-winning Red Light by Toma Waszarow. Previous editions have seen – amongst others – the completion of the Golden Bear winner Rafa by João Salaviza and the Estonian-Swedish co-production Amalimbo, which premiered at Venice.
What do you think makes Clermont so unique and enduring?
The combination of an extremely popular festival with a diverse audience and a busy Short Film Market with an inspiring industry programme. The potential for fruitful interactions is just enormous for every single visitor. It’s also a place where everyone takes short films very seriously, without taking themselves too seriously.
How do you think Clermont needs to evolve over the coming years?
Clermont-Ferrand is a stepping stone for many filmmakers. Many find the right partners for their next project while in Clermont-Ferrand. We’re currently consolidating links with other organisations to facilitate the next step for our filmmakers in competition, whether they plan to make another short or are already working on a first feature. We’re test-piloting a networking event this year, which should give some interesting results for filmmakers and for the participating lab and residency programmes, all based in Europe.
Our team is also working on the project of developing a “Cité du Court” in Clermont-Ferrand. It’s a place where we could articulate our prominent role in supporting creativity, film literacy, training and innovation at the various local, national, European and international levels we work on. The context is difficult for festivals or industry platforms when it comes to funding, so we have a big challenge ahead of us working with our public institutions to make this possible.
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