The Press in Cannes | Cinema at the crossroads

(Cannes) The gratin of world cinema met on Tuesday evening for an official dinner, under the market hall of the city, to celebrate the 75and anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Among the approximately 700 guests were 14 Palme d’Or winners. Two-thirds of the way through the 2022 competition, we are still looking for a film that will unquestionably establish itself as a successor to Titaniumby Julia Ducournau.

Posted at 5:33 p.m.

For the moment, this first “post-pandemic” selection is proving to be not very high. Never mind ! In the afternoon on Tuesday, the general delegate Thierry Frémaux had invited some of the biggest names in cinema to a two-day mini-symposium, in order to reflect on the future of the seventh art.

Since we are at the Cannes Film Festival, where we don’t seem to be concerned about this kind of thing, of the ten filmmakers invited to speak… there was no woman. Only white men, including the two moderators, including Thierry Frémaux himself.

However, in the evening, there was no shortage of female directors on the red carpet at 75and. I saw Agnès Jaoui, Mélanie Laurent, Claire Denis and Julia Ducournau there, to name only these four French filmmakers. It makes you wonder sometimes if they do it on purpose…

Despite its flagrant absence of female representation, this colloquium, which Thierry Frémaux had the idea with the Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, sparked a fascinating and essential discussion on the state of cinema. “The profession of filmmaker has changed a lot, Frémaux noticed straight away. What is this job today? Are we happy with all these possibilities, with the widening of the field, or are we unhappy? »

He therefore asked ten filmmakers, and not the least, how they saw the future of their profession, what their fears and hopes were and if the multiplication of formats (TV series, platforms, etc.) made them optimistic or pessimists.

“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 to cinema to change,” says the Oscar-winning filmmaker of The Shape of Water.

The evolution of cinema

There was of course a lot of talk about digital platforms. Remember that in 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 film in theaters, we submit to the vision of a filmmaker, says Del Toro. Television, on the other hand, submits to our desires. You can pause the movie and resume it later. The impact is not the same. »

The Press in Cannes Cinema at the crossroads

PHOTO VALÉRY HACHE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Costa-Gavras and Claude Lelouch

Among the speakers, there were two Palmés d’or, Claude Lelouch (for A man and a womanin 1966) and Costa-Gavras (for missing, 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. »

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 cellphone… his phone rang. “It’s the pizza!” said Del Toro teasingly.

“I won’t be here anymore. I am the oldest here. But young people will return to the cinema. I am convinced of it, ”believes Claude Lelouch, who says he has trouble seeing a film on a digital platform. “The big plan is the dictatorship. The broad plan is democracy. That’s why it’s the cinema that has the brightest future. »

For the Franco-Greek filmmaker of Z, Costa-Gavras, who chairs the Cinémathèque française, cinema began the end of a cycle before COVID-19, and COVID-19 closed that cycle. “The cinema has changed, and the spectators have changed. We are all different and we approach cinema differently, he believes. Human beings will not survive without telling stories. This is why the cinema will survive. Seeing a work all together, as 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 to the public. This is where the shoe pinches”, he says, speaking of the disaffection of spectators for French cinema in theaters.

What has also changed is the manifestation of the viewer’s desire. It’s not the same to see 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?

Michel Hazanavicius

The director of hate, Mathieu Kassovitz, raised by a filmmaker father and an editor mother, seemed even more pessimistic about the future of cinema, with all the latest home theater platforms and equipment. He says he himself gave up directing ten years ago because he felt his voice was not essential.

“The power of the image”

Paolo Sorrentino, selected six times in competition at Cannes, affirmed for his part, in clear terms, that his future lay on the side of a more traditional cinema than that of digital platforms like Netflix, for which he directed the series The Young Pope as well as the movie God’s hand.

“I made films for cinema, platforms, television, he says. The best thing is to make films as I did at the beginning, for the big screen. Maybe because I’m getting old. In cinema, there is a kind of epiphany. It’s not really possible on TV. »

Is there a difference in its staging? asked Thierry Frémaux. “It’s an image problem. Some are not strong enough for TV, so I drop them during the shoot. That’s why I’m going back to the movies. I can’t find the power of the image anywhere else. »

The Franco-Argentinian Gaspar Noé, unsurprisingly, criticizes the platforms for their political correctness. “The platforms, because they are American, come with moral constraints that are complicated,” notes the filmmaker ofIrreversible and of Love. “We will explain to you, especially overseas, what you can talk about. There is something that is taking place that is very castrating, which scares me for the future. »

Noé, who is a collector of Blu-rays, is worried about the disappearance of physical media such as DVD, since many films are not available on digital platforms, in particular because of censorship, he says. But there’s nothing, he agrees, like the collective experience of seeing a movie in theaters. “I’ve tried them all, but there’s only one drug that has really touched me in life, and that’s 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. »

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PHOTO VALÉRY HACHE, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo Del Toro, who, like many cinephiles (I am), has watched a lot of films 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. There is no denying their existence,” he said, in what appeared to be a critical commentary on the Cannes Film Festival’s policy towards which films can be held in competition.

“You worked for Netflix,” Thierry Frémaux reminded him, alluding to his animated film, Pinocchio. “My first duty is to tell a story,” replied Guillermo Del Toro. No one will be able to convince me that we were freer to tell stories before the arrival of the platforms. There are now several. It’s not just Netflix anymore. We must stop this polarization between studios and platforms. »

A phrase that the Cannes Film Festival should retain. His future also depends on it.

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The Press in Cannes | Cinema at the crossroads