"Four Italians in the running at Cannes 65? Why not, if they are good films” says the director. Special Cinema Award tonight at the FedS Festival
"Cannes' secret? I don't know it, but if it was discovered… it would disappear. It is simply the biggest festival in the world, but I have only been around for 10 years: I hope it continues in this way". Words of Monsieur Cannes, Thierry Fremaux, undeniably the key figure of the XV season of the Tertio Millennio Film Fest, where tonight (at 20.30, Rome, Sala Trevi) he will present and comment with Alberto Barbera some of the very first works by the Lumičre brothers and he will receive the Special Cinema Award.
But coming back to Cannes: "It is the result of collective work, it is a public treasure, a series of secrets that each one of us cultivates everyday", Fremaux continues, going back to the years when he followed it "arriving by car from Lyon: I have always loved it, and today the festival is paying me back". Fremaux is not only the general delegate of Cannes, but he is also the director of the Institut Lumičre in Lyon, his work involves restoring, spreading and promoting the cinema of the past: who knows, maybe he would have preferred the silent film in black and white, The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius to have won at Cannes 64 rather than The Tree of Life by Malick? Fremaux laughs, and changes subject: "I always agree with the awards given, it is difficult to choose, but I am pleased that thanks to The Artist, both the public and critics realize that cinema from the past and present are the same thing”.
According to ditractors, or better jealous people, Cannes collects figurines, or the best of the cinema world, investing on big names and ensuring itself the ius primae noctis, but Fremaux disagrees, and has a general view on the other festivals: "First there's Berlin in February, then Cannes in May, Venice and Toronto in September: in other words, there is a balance, and in some ways our slot is not even the best”. But, there is the umpteenth secret: "The loyalty of the authors, which we return: Fellini came 11 times, Sorrentino has already been three times". And anyhow, Cannes is not a "grab-everything": I saw and wanted The Descendents by Alexander, but for Fox it was not the right time". But the secrets of the Croisette do not end here: "Cannes has been able to evolve, and change once more, following step by step the cinema transformations: today the circulation of films is more rapid, how could this not affect a festival?".
The 65th Cannes Film Festival will be held from 16 to 27 May 2012, and Big House by Matteo Garrone will almost certainly be in running: Fremaux, can you confirm this? “oh, is there a film by Garrone? This is new for me", with a giggle.
This is another secret of the festival: diplomacy, escaping and sneakiness, all with a smile. Among the right ingredients, however, there is also the old, or new, politique des auteurs: "mapping the geography of the authors is the first thing to do, because there are "modern authors" who are neither authors nor modern". Times are difficult, but the seventh art – "commercial cinema is another thing" – does not give up: "images are everywhere today, but the cinema is still the heart", says Fremaux. And reveals "the four pillars for a good festival are: authors, stars, the market and the press, and they all have to be at the same level, otherwise it loses its balance, and the festival goes down…". Even if everything goes to plan, there are often criticisms: "I was criticized for having Drive by Refn at the festival, but not having it would have given new importance to the equation that Art cinema equals boring cinema. On the other hand are Ford, Peckinpah, Argento and Leone not authors of art films? So we must fight against the academicism and imitations, that is fake authors". At the same time, "festivals don’t have to defend on principle filmmakers which are in decline, otherwise they take a fall too". Every reference to facts, things or persons are obviously purely casual.
What’s left? Awarded by the Italian festival Tertio Millennio, this question is a must: Fermaux, how is our cinema? "The year before I became director of Cannes, there were no Italian films present: it was 2000, and it was a scandal, at least for you. However your cinema hangs in there: after Fellini, Antonioni & Co., Bellocchio and Moretti arrived and today we have Sorrentino, Garrone. If you had four good films for Cannes 65, I would put all of them in the festival, without problems, because another secret is tautological: having good films. The spectator in the cinema hall does not ask where they come from, what’s important is that they are good". Anyway, Italian cinema is doing well, and it was said by someone who knows what they are talking about, but other filmmakers are not doing too well. For example, and not too incredibly, the USA: "There are the big productions by the studios and the small independents: in between there is nothing. It is no coincidence, that at Cannes 64 there was only one American, Malick". All things considered, Fremaux do the Italians get full marks? “I am told that at Cannes the Italians are always the first to boo”, says Fremaux, telling us off. But it’s not true, it’s another festival: Venice. And above all another story.