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Emilie Bujès • Direttrice artistica, Visions du réel

"La pandemia ci ha insegnato una cosa molto importante, ovvero che un festival può reinventarsi totalmente"


- Cineuropa ha avuto modo di dialogare con la direttrice artistica del festival svizzero, in carica dal 2018

Emilie Bujès  • Direttrice artistica, Visions du réel
(© Sebastien Agnetti)

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Emilie Bujès talked to us about the key points and new developments of the 2022 edition of Visions du réel, taking place in a physical format. Although the pandemic naturally came with challenges, it also was an impetus for change that gave birth to new projects, such as Walks with the Filmmakers. 

Cineuropa: Could you tell us briefly about this year’s selection? What is the thread connecting the films of the International Competition? I am thinking especially about the large presence of feature debuts.
Emilie Bujès:
Indeed, feature debuts are a great connecting thread. There are very many, particularly in the International Competition. Nine feature debuts out of sixteen films is a lot. At Visions du Réel, we always aspire to work on discovering new talents who will then be able to enter a larger, more international circuit. In the Burning Lights section, there also are seven feature debuts out of fifteen films. What is really striking is that during the selection process, we pay a lot of attention to countries, forms, genres, without giving much thought to the “feature debut” category. It’s only later, once the selection is made, that we realise with surprise that there are many of them. Of course, we do feel it in certain cases, in a positive way. 

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What did the experience of the pandemic teach you about the festival? How did the reflections you had during this period feed into this (at last) physical edition?
First of all, I think this has allowed us to realise that there is a potential public everywhere, which is really, really great. Working from this realisation, this year we decided to maintain an online offering, mostly in order to reach other parts of Switzerland, but also for people in our region who might be physically limited. The idea is that someone who cannot physically come to Nyon, whether for practical, financial, scheduling or even physical reasons, will be able to watch films at home. Moreover, I think that the pandemic has primarily taught us to resist by deeply strengthening our team. It has also taught us something which, to my eyes, is essential: a festival can totally reinvent itself. Because international film festivals are very big “machines,” there is a tendency to simply redo the same things again, while in reality a festival should constantly reinvent itself, even if that isn’t always easy to do. In 2020, we were forced to reinvent everything in five weeks, and we managed to do it. It forced us to make changes on many different levels: regarding techniques, practices, but also in the way we were thinking. The person who is responsible for cultural activities, for children and the elderly for example, decided to organise walks, outdoor activities which, for example, will continue to exist. The need to find solutions to circumvent the restrictions taught us to be reactive, to think about the festival in a larger, more flexible and more open way. 

The large choice of "parallel" activities you offer goes into the direction of bringing in a larger public towards documentary cinema.
For sure. There is a double movement. On the one hand, it is our mission to bring this cinema towards people. We are also financed by the State and it is our role to reach a maximum number of people. On the other hand, it is also our mission and our ambition to share this kind of cinema with diverse audiences. Speaking more generally, because documentary films are very difficult to see, it is very important for me to try to show them, particularly to younger people, through activities for children and school classes. This is so that these young people can be aware that this kind of cinema exists. For me this is how it started, by watching films in festivals. The goal is to both fulfil this mission and to widen, as much as possible, the spectre of people who come to watch films.

Regarding Swiss documentary cinema, are you noticing a particular tendency?
First of all, what is important to highlight is that there are two Swiss feature debuts in the International Competition. Secondly, we can also see that this year, there are many Swiss films shot in Switzerland. This is probably also due to Covid, but I still think it is interesting that directors wanted to tell “Swiss” stories. I think that Swiss cinema is doing very well. It no doubt suffered less from the health crisis than other national cinemas, such as those from South America for example. Our National Competition, which features a great number of titles this year (thirteen), is very rich and captivating. It’s very pleasing!

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(Tradotto dal francese)

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