Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thierry Fremaux: Brand India is very strong in Cannes

May 23, 2013:--

Thierry Fremaux is the General Delegate of the Cannes film festival. Thierry Fremaux is the man who holds the reins of the biggest film festival in the world. He has the last word on which films get into the competition and he also wields the 20 million euro budget of the festival. Fremaux got Hollywood and blockbuster star power to Cannes in the out of competition sections, all the while keeping the \"auteur\" core of the competition intact. He is the one, who stands at the top of the red carpet staircase to receive the stars every evening at the ten day long festival.

NDTV\'s Noopur Tiwari spoke to Thierry Fremaux, the General Delegate of the Cannes film festival.

Noopur: Thierry, you say Cannes is a democratic festival and anyone from anywhere on earth can send you a film and you\'ll watch it of it\'s more than one hour. That means a lot of films?

Mr Fremaux: Yes. Cannes is considered the biggest film festival in the world. It\'s very important for us to show the idea of an open, worldwide film festival. They tell us we have the same filmmakers coming back again and again. That\'s because great filmmakers make great films. But if there is a young filmmaker from an unknown place in the world, if it\'s a good film, it will be seen and maybe even selected by us. We saw 1700 films to make the selection and there are only 20 films in competition so it\'s not so easy to get in.

Mr Fremaux: This year we have Steven Soderbergh in competition. Today, he is a veteran but he came to Cannes more than a decade ago for his first film which, by the way, won the Palme d\'Or (Golden Palm).

Noopur: What is it that Cannes is looking for in a film? You say you want auteur films that also have a wide audience. Some would see a contradiction in terms there.

Mr Fremaux: Yes and no. There are many different aspects to Cannes. There is the Cannes of the red carpet but also of the auteur mind, of the unknown. There is the Cannes of the parties and also of professionals. Nearly 100, 000 people are around during the Cannes film festival and each of them have a different reason to be here. Alfred Hitchcock was one of the great auteurs and he made mainstream films. So there is no contradiction. Of course we sometimes put some big films just for the pleasure of cinema, on the other hand we go totally to the other limit to find very small, risky or experimental films. Cinema is all of this stuff. Not any one kind of films.

Noopur: You\'ve been trying to open to India for many years now. What is the shift you have noted, if any?

Mr Fremaux: When I arrived, in my second year I picked up Devdas for an out-of-competition screening in the main theatre. It\'s a wonderful souvenir but it was a time when Cannes didn\'t really have films like that. It was the first time that Indian cinema came for a big screening and not for Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, all these auteur filmmakers from Indian cinema and it was a big risk for me because I was young, I was arriving I said, no please, it\'s a good film, and it was and it is.

I thought from that year on, it would be easy and obvious to have an Indian film every year in or out of competition but it didn\'t turn out that way at all. So we really didn\'t get a big Indian come back. This year we want to follow the new way we opened last year with the new generation of Indian filmmakers, men and women. I may be wrong but it seems they are in between the traditional auteur cinema and the big mainstream Bollywood films.

Mr Fremaux: I was in India recently. Going through the streets of Delhi or Mumbai, it\'s obvious that there is a possibility to make, I don\'t know, some film noir. Some film about some subject matters we used to have in occidental cinema. Auteur cinema is not easy to make today not just in India but for a lot of countries. I don\'t want to say that there\'s no legacy. There\'s been Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray.

Noopur: China and South Korea are specially making films that can travel or come to Cannes. Do you think Indian cinema is less outward looking in that sense?

Mr Fremaux: Some years ago we saw a wonderful film from India but it was already released in some other countries. Our rule is that the film should not be released in any other than its own country if it comes to Cannes. During the sixties and seventies, Asian cinema except for Japan, was not present at all in Cannes. But for the last ten years we had more films coming from new generations of auteurs coming from Asia. As I am talking to you, I know I have to go much more inside. Africa for example. It\'s my job because Cannes is not a French film festival. It\'s a worldwide film festival that takes place in France. I want to give countries the possibility to use Cannes as a big platform to become much more known.

Mr Fremaux: It\'s a tribute not for what India used to be, and it was big inside the history of cinema, but for what India is today in the world of cinema.

Noopur: Some say Cannes likes only a certain kind of cinema. That it only wants Indian films to be about poverty and crime.

Mr Fremaux: Satyajit Ray still one of my favourite directors. I grew up with him. So it feels like I grew up with India through his films. It makes us proud to pay tribute to this big country of cinema. I also hope lots of producers and filmmakers will visit from India to watch the films being made in Europe, America and South America. Steven Spielberg said he accepted to be President of the jury this year because he said he wanted to do that journey of world cinema to see how people make films in a different way than his.

Mr Fremaux: We can learn from India what we\'ve lost in France for example. The use of music, the use of actors. Actors are like gods in your country. It\'s not like that anymore in France and not enough. When Jean Gabin, the great French actor, used to arrive in the room everyone was overwhelmed but now that kind of thing is more banal.

Mr Fremaux: Indian cinema is in good health. I think the brand India is very strong in cinema and specially in Cannes. There is something that shows that the future can be great for Indian cinema.

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