(Cannes) The gratin of world cinema gathered Tuesday night for an official dinner, under the city market, to celebrate the 75Y anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Among the roughly 700 guests were 14 Palme d’Or winners. Two-thirds of the way through the 2022 competition, we’re still looking for a film that will undoubtedly establish itself as a successor to Titaniumby Julia Ducournau.
At the moment, this first “post-pandemic” selection is turning out not very high. Does not matter! On Tuesday afternoon, the general delegate Thierry Frémaux had invited some of the biggest names in cinema to a two-day mini-symposium to reflect on the future of the seventh art.
Since we’re at the Cannes Film Festival, where we don’t seem to be concerned about this sort of thing, of the ten filmmakers invited to speak… there weren’t any women. Only white men, including the two moderators, including Thierry Frémaux himself.
However, at night, there was no shortage of directors on the red carpet of 75Y. There I saw Agnès Jaoui, Mélanie Laurent, Claire Denis, and Julia Ducournau, to name just four French filmmakers. Sometimes you wonder if they don’t do it on purpose…
Despite its flagrant lack of female representation, this colloquium, masterminded by Thierry Frémaux with Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, sparked a fascinating and essential discussion on the state of cinema. “The filmmaking profession has changed a lot, Frémaux immediately noted. What is this job today? Are we happy with all these possibilities, with the expansion of the field, or are we dissatisfied? »
For this reason, he asked ten filmmakers, and not least, how they saw the future of their profession, what their fears and hopes were, and whether the multiplication of formats (TV series, platforms, etc.) made them optimistic or pessimistic.
“Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but I feel like we’re at a crossroads, like when silent movies first became talkative,” said Guillermo del Toro. “It only takes one generation for the relationship with cinema to change,” says the Oscar-winning filmmaker of the shape of water.
The evolution of cinema.
Of course, there was a lot of talk about digital platforms. Remember that at Cannes, films produced by platforms such as Netflix or Apple TV+ have not been admitted to competition since 2018, which has paved the way for several quality titles (such as Rome or the power of the dog) at the Venice Film Festival.
“When we go to see a movie in theaters, we submit to a filmmaker’s vision,” says del Toro. Television, on the other hand, submits to our wishes. You can pause the movie and resume it later. The impact is not the same. »
Among the speakers were two Palmés d’Or, Claude Lelouch (for A Man and a Woman in 1966) and Costa-Gavras (by lost, in 1982). “Cinema never stops growing, believes Claude Lelouch, who is from the camp of optimists. We are constantly inventing new writings. It is an art of technology. »
At the moment the 84-year-old filmmaker confessed that he had dreamed all his life of a small camera with as much depth of field as a cell phone… his phone rang. “Its’ the pizza!” del Toro said jokingly.
“I will no longer be here. I am the oldest here. But the young people will return to the cinema. I am convinced of it,” believes Claude Lelouch, who says he has problems watching a movie on a digital platform. “The big plan is the dictatorship. The broad plan is democracy. That is why it is the cinema with the greatest future.”
For the French-Greek filmmaker Z, Costa-Gavras, who chairs the Cinémathèque française, cinema began the end of a cycle before COVID-19, and COVID-19 closed that cycle. “Cinema has changed, and viewers have changed. We are all different and we approach cinema differently, he believes. Human beings will not survive without telling stories. That is why the cinema will survive. Seeing a play all together, like in ancient Greece, is different from being in slippers at home! »
Michel Hazanavicius, filmmaker of The artist, which speaks precisely of the end of silent cinema, did not hesitate to evoke the death of cinema, to the astonishment of Thierry Frémaux. “What changes is our connection with the public. This is where the shoe pinches,” he says, speaking of viewers’ disaffection with French cinema in theaters.
What has also changed is the manifestation of the viewer’s desire. It’s not the same to watch a movie when you have your legs stretched out on the coffee table with a computer on your thighs. Where will the balance point be?
Director of hateRaised by a filmmaker father and an editor mother, Mathieu Kassovitz seemed even more pessimistic about the future of cinema, with the latest home theater platforms and equipment. He says that he stopped directing ten years ago because he felt that his voice was not essential.
Paolo Sorrentino, selected in competition six times at Cannes, stated, for his part, in clear terms, that his future was on the side of a more traditional cinema than that of digital platforms such as Netflix, for which he directed the series. the young pope as well as the movie The hand of God.
“I made films for cinema, platforms, television, he says. The best thing is to make movies like at the beginning, for the big screen. Maybe because I’m getting old. In the cinema, there is a kind of epiphany. It’s not possible on TV. »
Is there a difference in their staging? Thierry Fremaux asked. “It’s an image problem. Some are not strong enough for television, so I drop them off during the shoot. That’s why I’m going back to the cinema. I can’t find the power of the image anywhere else. »
Franco-Argentine Gaspar Noé, unsurprisingly, criticizes the platforms for their political correctness. “The platforms, being American, come with moral limitations that are complicated,” says the filmmaker of irreversible Y Love. “We will explain to them, especially abroad, what they can talk about. There is something that is happening that is very emasculating, that scares me for the future. »
Noé, who collects Blu-rays, is worried about the demise of physical media like DVDs, as many movies aren’t available on digital platforms, particularly because of censorship, he says. But there is nothing, he agrees, like the collective experience of seeing a movie in theaters. “I have tried them all, but there is only one drug that has touched me in life, and that is the cinema. Cinema will always have a future. That’s why everyone likes to come here to Cannes. It’s because there’s something religious about it. »
Guillermo Del Toro, who like many moviegoers (I am) watched many movies on digital platforms during the pandemic, believes that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. “We must not deny their place to films made for platforms. Its existence cannot be denied,” he said, in what appeared to be a critical comment on the Cannes Film Festival’s policy regarding films that can be submitted to the competition.
“You worked for Netflix,” Thierry Frémaux reminded him, referring to his animated film, Pinocchio. “My first duty is to tell a story,” answered Guillermo Del Toro. Nobody can convince me that we were freer to tell stories before the arrival of platforms. Now there are several. It’s not just Netflix anymore. We must stop this polarization between studios and platforms. »
This is a phrase that the Cannes Film Festival should keep. Your future also depends on it.
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