Frédéric Boyer • Head of programming, Reykjavik International Film Festival
“Programming a festival is a question of trust”
- The programmer for Les Arcs and Tribeca now has a crack at bringing quality films to Reykjavik audiences, and we got the low-down on this year’s edition from him
We spoke to Frédéric Boyer about what’s in store at this year’s edition of the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) (30 September-10 October), which he has programmed.
Cineuropa: In addition to Les Arcs and Tribeca, you came to programme Reykjavik. What has your experience been like so far?
Frédéric Boyer: It's an island between Paris and New York and, of course, is very symbolic for me. It's a very exciting film festival, primarily because the audience is young, and also because many filmmakers are attending. I was impressed by their archives – almost anyone they invited actually came, such as Werner Herzog, Jim Jarmusch... This year, we even have Debbie Harry coming to support the short film Blondie: Vivir en la Habana, which is part of our new music-film section, Cinema Beats. She is an extraordinary artist: her autobiography is an amazing read, and her role in Videodrome is iconic. When Charlie Watts passed away, [RIFF director] Hrönn Marinósdóttir asked me to show something with him in it, so we added Stones in Exile, which I had programmed in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight years ago.
Young audiences need something beyond films, and we are trying to build a bridge between cinema, the visual arts, photography and music. It's good that we can always reinvent the sidebar sections, so with Cinema Beats, which includes films like Laurent Garnier: Off the Record and A-HA – The Movie [+see also:
interview: Thomas Robsahm
film profile], we are trying to cobble together a very popular programme.
What can you tell us about the New Visions and A Different Tomorrow competitions?
New Visions is intended for first and second films by their directors. We are not limited by any premiere requirements, and we can pick films from any big festivals, but it's also important that we have a submission process and we can pick some films from there, so young filmmakers can see that they have a chance to get selected. We watch all the films sent by the filmmakers themselves.
In A Different Tomorrow, we have pictures that deal with social and environmental issues, those that provoke debate, but our priority is for these to be films made for the big screen and not TV productions. It's an exciting mix. What I like at festivals is to go to a film before knowing what it is about, to trust a programmer, and just go in and watch it. It's a question of trust, and this section is one of the most exciting. Most of the time, the filmmakers are present, and of course, one of the main functions of a festival is to create an exchange between the audience and the artists.
How about the Icelandic Panorama section and Work in Progress, where you show fresh Icelandic films to audiences and upcoming ones to professionals, respectively?
It is very important to solidify the Icelandic industry and make it more visible. Iceland is a country with a small population, but this is intended to create a community not only of filmmakers, but also of editors, cinematographers, crew and technicians, to show the films and works in progress, and to think about the future. We're inviting people from the industry to meet people with projects and see if they can work on co-productions.
We are screening only a few scenes from each film in Work in Progress; it is more interesting to give the microphone to the producer and filmmaker so that they can explain what they are looking for, where they are and what the status of the film is. I believe such events should not be too long: they should create excitement and a desire for films coming to festivals next year. We are presenting all kinds of pictures there: family movies, comedies, thrillers, documentaries and experimental films. Icelandic cinema is growing; it's especially present at Cannes and Venice, and sales agents and co-producers are very interested in it. I can't wait to discover more talented young filmmakers.
You also have interesting tributes and other sidebars – tell us a bit about those.
Yes, we are paying tribute to Dimitri Eipides in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Film Festival, and I don't think I’ve ever seen a festival paying tribute like this to a programmer. When he passed away, our community of programmers was very sad, and when Hrönn suggested it, I thought it was a great idea that would also show a lot of respect for curators. We will screen four of his favourite films [click here to read more]. I would also like to highlight the Dutch Focus [click here], where we are bringing along filmmakers from the new wave of Dutch cinema. Producers and directors are coming, and it's a whole section with exciting films that are not often seen on the big screen.
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