– The director of the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival shares his views on current conflicts, the genesis of auteur films, and the debate regarding their profitability
Director for nine years of Cinemed – Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, Christophe Leparc (also general secretary of Directors’ Fortnight since 2008) discusses the 45th edition (read the article) which begins today.
Cineuropa: This edition of Cinemed begins in the context of the armed conflict in the Mediterranean region. How do you feel about this situation?
Christophe Leparc: All of this is beyond us but, since the inception of Cinemed, our mission has always been to present and give a voice to artists from all over the Mediterranean region. We’ve already lived through conflicts, such as the one in Ex-Yugoslavia during which we’d brought together all the filmmakers from the region at Cinemed. We’ve always given priority to the works that we select that reflect the pulse of the Mediterranean and this dialogue must continue. This time around, we don’t know whether some selected filmmakers will be able to come to Montpellier, but we will present their films and find a way to have them speak. Art in general, and cinema in particular, remain a window onto hope and it’s important not to lower our guards on that point despite the circumstances and this very tense context.
Films by women are very much highlighted in your 2023 programme, in particular with a zoom talk about the Catalan new wave.
It is very exciting to see that society is evolving and that it does so through cinema and the cinema industry. For four or five years, we’d noticed the increase in qualitative power of films by Catalan female filmmakers such as Carla Simón, Clara Roquet, Neus Ballús. By investigating, we realised that at many stages throughout the making of these films, from production to cinematography as well as composing, the script, the editing, we found women. Is it an ephemeral or durable movement? Spontaneous or the result of a political will? There is an element of optimism: Catalan society has evolved in that regard and the place of women in cinema has considerably widened thanks to better access to studies on one hand (in particular at the Pompeu university in Barcelona), which has encouraged the emergence of women in all professional film categories, and on the other hand, thanks to the political will of the Catalan public authorities with a kind of positive discrimination (via more points to access aids if women are in key positions in the filmmaking process). But this also works because these women show great kindness to each other, and not any competitiveness. It is to tell us about and explain to us all this that we wanted to invite them to talk to each other at Cinemed.
Three of the films in competition had gone through the pitching for development grants as works in progress at the Cinemed Meetings. This must be satisfying.
Yes, because this means that it pays off, that these projects have been able to come to fruition. And beyond the fiction feature projects, this year we are also restarting the Cinemed & Aflamuna/Beirut DC programme, a collaboration that allows us to open up to documentaries. We are thus extending our offer of projects aimed at professionals, potential financial partners (producers and institutions) and their interest seems to be there since this year, there will be more than 80 to come and meet the project leaders. This connection between people has become an important function of our festival and we are very happy to be at this birth point for films and that it works.
What is your point of view regarding the question of the profitability of auteur films?
In France, we are privileged in this respect because the CNC was created out of the desire to allow a great diversity of cinema to exist thanks to an automatic and selective support system that favours works that are not necessarily intended to be profitable. That’s what allows debut features to get made. Justine Triet is a perfect example: her first feature, Age of Panic [+see also:
film profile], wasn’t necessarily a profitable film, and now at her 4th feature, Anatomy of a Fall [+see also:
interview: Justine Triet
film profile], she wins the Palme d’or and registers almost 1,2 million admissions (so far), a remarkable success. But we must also think about the future and a programme such as France 2030 – La grande fabrique de l’image, conceived to develop the audiovisual industry, film sets etc.m which is very good, absolutely should nevertheless integrate a section for auteurs and creators of films that are not just content to be produced. The artistic aspect of cinema must be preserved, encouraged, and we should always be careful on that point: even though it is an industry, cinema is above all an art form, and that’s not to denigrate popular cinema in the slightest, as the diverse programme of Cinema demonstrates, with films for all tastes.
(Translated from French)