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Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin • CEO, Les Arcs Film Festival

"We needed to go off the beaten track and find new paths"


- CEO of the Les Arcs Film Festival Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin explains the adaptation strategy behind the event’s one-off Off-Piste 12th edition, which opens on 12 December

Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin • CEO, Les Arcs Film Festival
(© AFOM-Les Arcs Film Festival)

Two days ahead of the opening of the 12th Les Arcs Film Festival (unspooling online, just this once, between 12 - 19 December 2020 – read our article), Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, the CEO and co-founder of the event (which he helms alongside General Manager Guillaume Calop), offers up an outline of this year’s edition, in which inventiveness has proven crucial amidst the ever-changing context of the health crisis.

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Cineuropa: By what process did you arrive at this exceptional Off-Piste edition of the Les Arcs Film Festival ?
Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin: We’re skiers so we switched into "free ride" mode. There came a point where we needed to go off the beaten track and find new paths, new routes which would allow us to move forwards, to come down the other side of the great mountain that is the health crisis. We weighed up all the different options fairly quickly, working out which would be the most practical, “all-terrain” solution. From this perspective, it was clear in our minds that we needed the support of a platform, so that, in the worst case scenario, we’d be able to digitalise the festival and be in a position to screen our selection online with seance capacities of 300-500 seats. We organised it all with the help of Festival Scope. This Digital Off-Piste edition will be launched on 12 December and, for 15 days, viewers will be able to watch nigh-on 80% of our 2020 selection, primarily all films in competition.

But it was important that we didn’t only screen works online, because, for us, movie theatres are the essential medium for discovering films. So we set up the Off-Piste Cinema initiative: somewhere in the region of one hundred cinemas will choose films from a list of ten works suggested by us. As soon as they re-open, these movie theatres will include films from our festival in their schedules - works which have been awarded the festival’s label and will be accompanied by content recorded ahead of time: presentations of these films and meetings with the directors and actors.

We also needed to make a few changes to the professional events, because it soon became clear that we wouldn’t be able to gather together as many people as usual, regardless of the decisions that would have been made and the state of the crisis on 12 December. We made the decision to move the Distributors/Exhibitors Summit (running 18 November – 18 December) online at the end of October, from the moment we went into our second lockdown, because we felt that, with the cinemas being closed, there was a real need for us to create an assembly point, a place to meet and exchange ideas, where distributors could talk about their line-ups and show their upcoming films, where workshops could be organised online... And whereas the Summit usually involves 250 participants, we’ve had upwards of 750 registrations for the event this time round, including over 550 cinemas. It’s already proven a huge success and we’ve received countless, appreciative messages from industry professionals, thanking us for having created a space which allowed them to come together and which provided them with an opportunity to plan for the future.

As for the Industry Village [see the news], we’ve decided to hold it in Paris, in January, when we’re in a position to do so, because we’re hoping to bring the thirty or so people helming projects in development to the capital, and to roll out the Work in Progress programme, which looks set to be brilliant. Because in Paris, we’re lucky enough to have representatives from major international companies, distributors and lots of producers working in the field of co-production in Europe. Just being able to organise meetings for project-bearers would be good; we could then organise a digital component for those based abroad. Obviously, if the health crisis prevents us from organising a physical edition, it’s possible that everything will unfold online, but that would be a shame because the human element at Les Arcs is essential. No, there won’t be any crazy antics on ski slopes or in igloos at night-time; there’ll be no eating oysters in the sun, or parties, or saunas. But to at least have a little bit of human contact would be incredible because that’s what we really need right now. I also believe that we’ve never realised quite how much we need festivals and markets, until now. For example, I can see how badly missed an event like Cannes really is; we’re left feeling out of sync, as if there were no set market rhythm for selling, buying and promoting films. So if we do manage it, it will be brilliant. Otherwise, much to my regret, this really will be the year of digital events.

In a private capacity, in league with Paprika Films, you produced Two of Us [+see also:
film review
interview: Filippo Meneghetti
film profile
by Filippo Meneghetti, which has been chosen as the French candidate for the 2021 Oscars.
This film would never have come into existence without the possibility of European co-production and the French system. The Italian press’s reaction to the fact that Filippo is representing France, not to mention his being granted an advance on receipts from the CNC, is priceless!

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(Translated from French)

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