Paolo Moretti • Artistic director, Directors’ Fortnight
"It’s my way of interpreting the Directors’ Fortnight mission"
- The artistic director of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight explains the choices made in the 2022 selection and describes his take on the parallel section’s philosophy
The 54th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight is set to unspool between 18 and 24 May 2022 within the 75th Cannes Film Festival. We met with the section’s artistic director Paolo Moretti in Paris (who’s set to step down from the role at the close of this year’s edition – read our news).
Cineuropa: Just like in 2019 and 2021, you’ve selected 24 feature films (read our article). Why persevere with this hefty number of films compared with your predecessors’?
Paolo Moretti: I don’t think 24 feature films is a hefty number considering the 1,400 feature films which are sent to the Directors’ Fortnight every year. The 1969 event offered up 67! And if you look at what was going on just before I took up the reins, it’s only three or four extra or fewer titles than then: there were 20 in 2017 and 2018, and 26 in 2008 and 2009. So, in my mind, it’s a matter of minor adjustments. It’s important to us to accommodate the films we discovered and loved during the selection process, within the confines of the space available. The committee and I try to put together a selection which best represents the wide spectrum of contemporary film creation, in all its richness and diversity, both in terms of its aesthetics and its commercial aspects. Having 24 titles allows us to extend the range of approaches represented, and to develop a slightly clearer editorial line than we could with 20.
Does this rather high number of films make media coverage of these works more complicated at a time when numerous publications’ editorial lines are leaning more towards events, to the detriment of cinephile films?
Once again, I don’t think it’s a high number, but it’s a legitimate concern which we also had. That kind of analysis implies that it’s possible to divide media attention equally between all films, which won’t ever be the case, whatever the situation. What I think we need to do is to try to work out a way where each film enjoys qualitative media exposure, tailored to the type of project it is. And this is actually what happens, somewhat naturally and organically. We haven’t had any filmmakers who have been selected in recent years complain over a lack of media attention. They’ve all benefitted from the support that comes with being presented at the Directors’ Fortnight. Look at A Night of Knowing Nothing [+see also:
interview: Payal Kapadia
film profile] by Payal Kapadia, which is currently screening in French cinemas and which was presented at the end of the Fortnight last year: it’s a first feature film which won the Golden Eye for Best Documentary and which has enjoyed one of the best trajectories out of the entire selection. It might not have received the same level of media coverage as Between Two Worlds [+see also:
interview: Emmanuel Carrère
film profile] by Emmanuel Carrère, but that isn’t necessarily what all selected films are aiming for. It was important for the film and for the filmmaker to be selected in the Fortnight, and for the Fortnight to offer them a place. Moreover, media exposure doesn’t necessarily happen during the festival; sometimes it comes later. The Fortnight remains a springboard, a guarantee of quality, and it shines a light on films and filmmakers who have genuinely captured our interest. So when it comes to the idea of selecting less films so that there’s less competition for attention, it’s not really relevant because it doesn’t work that way, it’s not quite so mathematical. Having closely observed the media dynamics around the films in the selection, I can confirm that 3-4 extra or fewer titles over the 10-day festival period doesn’t have any impact on media coverage.
Europe still largely dominates your selection in terms of film numbers. Obviously, there’s artistic talent everywhere, but could we describe the Old Continent as the creative stronghold or the Alamo when it comes to global arthouse cinema?
In Europe, there are organisations in each country which support and finance creation, especially the kind which takes risks and isn’t intended to reap any immediate economic return. The law of the market, which does exist in European film creation, isn’t as strong in other countries, so out of the films which interest us and which we want to show during the Fortnight, there’s a huge contingent from European countries, especially from France as a country specialising in production and co-production. It’s also because Cannes is, of course, a benchmark event for the entire world, but this is especially the case for Europe. So there’s a natural focus on this event in Europe, which is often a filmmaker’s first choice when it come to presenting their work in Europe. It’s also a matter of statistics: the volume of French films sent to us far outnumbers those hailing from any other country. This richness which European countries bring to the Cannes Film Festival, and the focus they place on it, is naturally reflected in the selection too.
How is your 2022 selection looking in terms of genres?
In this respect, too, we’re trying to reproduce the rich palette of languages, codes and narratives which revealed themselves to us in the selection process. We’ve got films which fall directly into genre categories, or which reinvent it, such as Men [+see also:
film profile] by Alex Garland, Les Cinq Diables [+see also:
film profile] by Léa Mysius, and The Dam [+see also:
interview: Ali Cherri
film profile] by Ali Cherri, which was shot in the Sudan. I could also mention Scarlet [+see also:
interview: Pietro Marcello
film profile] by Pietro Marcello, which is a fable voyaging into the realms of magical realism, and The Green Perfume [+see also:
film profile] by Nicolas Pariser and Continental Drift (South) [+see also:
interview: Lionel Baier
film profile] by Lionel Baier, which flirt more with the codes of comedy, and even The Mountain [+see also:
interview: Thomas Salvador
film profile] by Thomas Salvador, which draws from the codes of silent film and mime in its physicality, and falls part-way between naturalism and sci-fi. There’s a multitude of languages and connections with documentary cinema when it comes to De Humani Corporis Fabrica [+see also:
interview: Véréna Paravel, Lucien Cast…
film profile] by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and The Super-8 Years [+see also:
interview: Annie Ernaux and David Erna…
film profile] by Annie Ernaux and David Ernaux-Briot, which it would be reductive to describe as documentaries because they’re actually works of reinvention.
Presenting filmmakers who are coming to the Croisette for the very first time seems to be very important to you (although there are also several known names returning to the Fortnight this year, such as Mia Hansen-Løve, Philippe Faucon and João Pedro Rodrigues).
It’s a crucial thing, in my eyes. That’s how I interpret the Fortnight’s mission in the context of the Cannes Film Festival. That’s how the Fortnight came about, with filmmakers who didn’t necessarily have access to the Official Selection because they weren’t supported by the necessary institutions within their own countries. That’s how the Fortnight came onto the scene, with an explosion of new voices. Obviously, that was over 50 years ago, the world has changed since then, and the Cannes Film Festival has too, but there’s something about the original mission that I’m really keen on preserving and which I believe gives the Fortnight meaning. But we’re not fanatic about applying this principle because we’re also interested in following filmmakers who make films which fit with the spirit of the selection and which we want to accommodate. It’s always a balancing act, but just like in the 2019 and 2021 selections, the overwhelming majority of the 2022 selection consists of filmmakers who are presenting a feature film in Cannes for the very first time: there are 18 of them! Because I think that the Fortnight should remain, first and foremost, a platform for new filmmakers and new voices. Not only for first feature films, of which there are eight this year, but also for second and third feature films, and even for filmmakers who’ve had brilliant international careers but who, for various reasons, haven’t yet presented a feature film in Cannes, such as Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Alex Garland and Mark Jenkin this year, or Jean-Gabriel Périot and Joanna Hogg in 2021.
There are 11 women directors in the showcase. How much of this was intentional for equality reasons?
The 2021 selection was the first equal selection in the history of the Fortnight, with 12 feature films out of 24 directed or co-directed by women, and we’re continuing along these lines. We don’t have a particular figure in mind, it’s more of a sensitivity towards it. Luckily, it's not just a deliberate decision we made; it’s the result of a growing awareness, a genuinely collective movement which involves the entire sector, from the production process through to the relevant institutions. Funding for projects by women directors has been increasingly forthcoming and improving for several years now. We’re at the end of the supply chain, and in order to offer up an equal selection, we need the entire chain to show sensitivity in this regard. But it’s clear that this sensitivity is growing and that incredibly high-quality films by women directors are increasingly significant in number. It’s definitely something to celebrate.
(Translated from French)
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