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CANNES 2021 Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

Paolo Moretti • Delegato generale, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

"Ciò che ci interessa è rappresentare un territorio estetico, poetico e politico prima di tutto"


- Il delegato generale della Quinzaine des Réalisateurs di Cannes commenta le scelte della sua selezione 2021

Paolo Moretti  • Delegato generale, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

The 53rd edition of the Directors’ Fortnight will unspool between 7 and 17 July as part of the 74th Cannes Film Festival. We met with the event’s delegate general Paolo Moretti in Paris.

Cineuropa: Just like in 2019, you’ve selected 24 feature films (read our news), which is quite a high number given the complications that sanitary precautions are likely to cause for consecutive screenings. Why did you make this choice?
Paolo Moretti: I didn’t have any specific number in mind. These films imposed themselves during the selection process. We even looked at the possibility of inviting a higher number of films, but in the end we stuck with 24, which is in line with the maximum quota you’d find in a regular line-up of three films a day. But this year more than any other, the number of films we chose was influenced by the importance of remembering just how much the industry had slowed down over the past year, and the fact that lots of films are still chomping at the bit to be released. So offering them this space was quite a natural thing to do.

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22 out of the 29 filmmakers in the showcase will take their first steps on the Croisette with a feature film. You’ve spoken about "a selection full of new discoveries, which is one of the aims and the raison d’être of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight". Does this sum up your editorial line? How do you reconcile it with the media’s need for big names?
It’s a question of balance, moreover the two aren’t mutually exclusive. For example, Joanna Hogg, who’s a big name in my view, on account of her global reach, has never shown a feature film in Cannes. Pietro Marcello who is now a very well-known and established name in modern-day cinema and who has just enjoyed huge success with Martin Eden [+leggi anche:
intervista: Pietro Marcello
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, has never shown a feature film in Cannes before. These directors who are showing a feature film in Cannes for the first time aren’t necessarily newcomers presenting their debut films, although there are some first films in the 2021 selection. The point I wanted to make with this number is that this was how the Fortnight was created: in the 1970s, it brought women and men directors to Cannes who had never been there before, and who never would have been there, were it not for this event. The context of Cannes has evolved; it’s not the same as it was in the 1970s, but something of it still remains: the Fortnight has a duty to be complementary, to broaden the Cannes Film Festival’s overall offering. So this idea of making discoveries isn’t a determining factor, but it’s something we consider because it make sense. We don’t want the Fortnight to stand in opposition to Cannes’ other selections, we want it to bring something extra.

You’ve spoken about your selection of films being characterised by "modernity in their writing and in their vibrant portrayal of our epoch”.
It’s a spirit which pervades the entire selection. The Fortnight’s editorial line is and must be in constant evolution in order to stay true to itself. If we look back once again to the festival’s founders, and to the time when the difference between the Fortnight and the rest of the Cannes Film Festival was even more obvious than it is now, the Official obviously showed masterpieces, and within the Directors’ Fortnight there were filmmakers like Werner Herzog, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Chantal Akerman, who were presenting their first films. When I talk about modernity in a film’s writing, I mean: where are those examples of writing which had so much impact at the time and how do they marry with the present day, with 2021? Naturally, it’s something that we’re trialling, that we’re attempting, because we don’t know what the future will bring, but that’s the approach that I’m favouring, opting for filmmakers who question the most established writing codes. That’s where the Fortnight comes from, it’s a key component of our DNA.

European films heavily dominate your selection. Is this for economic reasons? Or is it a trend?
It’s a relatively normal ratio, but we do also have films hailing from Costa Rica, Argentina, Iraq, Brazil, China, Iran and the Lebanon. And even if it’s set in Europe, the Kosovar film we’ve selected clearly shows that there are nationalities and lands we’re exposing which aren’t so typical. We look all over the world, but obviously, and luckily, the European film funding structure supports young creators, especially in France where the system is extraordinary. A large proportion of the French and European film industry also uses the Cannes Film Festival as a reference point for production schedules, because a presentation in Cannes can have a determining effect on a film’s career. So it’s a clear, statistical fact: there’s a particularly high number of European films on offer and it’s quite natural that the selection includes a greater percentage of films from this continent. But we’re very mindful of the 1,395 feature films hailing from all over the world which were sent to us and which we watched.

France, Italy, the UK, Portugal, Romania, Croatia and Kosovo are representing Europe. What about the other Old Continent territories? Were the films on offer high-quality?
Austria and Spain are also represented, within the short film selection. We received an abundance of films this year, and on average they were higher quality than usual, given that many 2020 films boasting a certain level of potential had postponed or extended their post-production. We could have held a second Directors’ Fortnight, with excellent quality films hailing from other countries. Separating ourselves from films which we’ve supported for a long time is a very frustrating and painful exercise, but we only have 24 places available. When certain films say they weren’t far off being selected, it’s often true because during final discussions we try to develop an overall vision bolstered by a structured and coherent programme, and it’s at this point that we’re forced to exclude films which we do rate very highly and which we love: sadly, the issue isn’t their artistic value, but the limited spaces available. There were some wonderful Scandinavian films, for example, which stayed with us for quite some time. But the Fortnight was also designed to contrast with the idea of nations. In 1969, back when the Cannes Film Festival was functioning in a very institutional and diplomatic fashion, the Fortnight chose to focus on directors rather than on representing nations per se. Clearly, we’re very attentive to films coming from all countries around the world, but we don’t have the space or any kind of institutional duty to represent as many countries as possible. What we’re interested in is representing the most creative minds in the contemporary film panorama: above all, aesthetic, poetic and political landscapes.

You mentioned the independent spirit which prevailed when the Fortnight was founded. How did your relationship or the competition you felt with the Official Selection and with Critics’ Week play out during the selection process?
You couldn’t really call it competition, not in a confrontational sense, anyway. Each selection has its own challenges and the work we carry out is complementary. Obviously, it sometimes happens that we like the same films, but that’s a good thing for those films, and as discussions advance and the process moves along, factors of relevancy emerge which bring films closer to one selection than to another. There’s an overall sense of cooperation at play, for the good of the films. I spoke with Thierry Frémaux about certain films; there’s a context of open dialogue. At the end of the day, decision-making is a complicated, shared process because there are various decision-makers for each film. But what I think is important to all of us, to Thierry Frémaux, to Charles Tesson, to the ACID filmmakers and to me personally, is that the Cannes Film Festival as a whole is a success. We developed this spirit of dialogue extensively last year because it was a real necessity at the time, and something wonderful has come out of it. And after a year like the one we’ve all just lived through, the simple fact that there’s going to be a Cannes Film Festival with films, crews and an audience to meet is an absolute joy.

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