A FORTNIGHT THAT SPANS FIFTY YEARS



TWO WEEKS 50 YEARS LONG

 

This year we learnt that the Moscow Film Festival will be held in Spring to free the space for football fans and we started thinking about ways to represent the Cannes Film Festival. Its winners traditionally make up the most prestigious part of the out-of-competition program at our Festival. Obviously we had to shift the focus from the results of the Cannes to the results of the Berlinale, and still we did not want to forget the Cote d’Azure altogether. We resorted to the history of festival movement.

“La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs” is the oldest parallel program at the Cannes Film Festival. It appeared at the time of the crisis of the big festival when it stagnated under the official pressure on the one hand and the youth protest movement, which nourished the New Wave, on the other. In this situation the Association of French Directors decided to breathe a new life into the Cannes program. The new program was defined as follows: “The purpose of this parallel section of the Cannes Festival is to discover new films and filmmakers refuted by major international festivals and main distribution networks. La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs is free-spirited, non-competitive and open to non-professional festival viewers”. The then young producer Pierre-Henri Deleau was entrusted with realizing those objectives and he helmed the program until the late 1990s.

This most fruitful period is well-represented on our program. Thanks to Deleau the Cannes saw “Reconstituirea” by Lucian Pintilie, this first harbinger of the coming rise of Romanian cinema. “Once Upon a Time There Was a Singing Blackbird” by Otar Iosseliani did not merely reveal the unique talent of its creator to Western Europe, but the peculiar Georgian cinema as well which for some time was looked upon merely as Soviet in the West.

The traditional hierarchies of French cinema were also revised. Deleau noticed the half-forgotten classic Robert Bresson and screened his Dostoyevsky adaptations of “Une femme douce” and “White Nights” (the film was called “Four Nights of a Dreamer”). On the other hand he was not turned off by the extremism of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Wind from the East” or the “Medvedkin Group”. The leftist sympathies were evident in the choice of Italian films by the Taviani brothers, especially “St. Michael Had a Rooster” or “W.R. - Misterije organizma” by Dusan Makavejev.

Later on this commitment to marginal sensations bore fruit. In our program we included films which discovered for Europe and the world the names of the Englishman Terence Davis (“Distant Voices, Still Lives”), the Austrian Michael Haneke (“The Seventh Continent”), the Chinese Ang Lee (“Eat Drink Man Woman”), the Belgian Dardennes brothers (“Promise”).

As the selector for “La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs”  Pierre-Henri Deleau was succeeded by Marie-Pierre Macia and in later years by Edouard Waintrop who was aided by our fellow countryman and my former student Igor Guskov. Igor’s life was cut short early but till the very end he fought for the movies that were precious to him. We devote this program to his memory.

The relations of the Quinzaine and the left-our Russian movies is a separate story. This program offered the international premiere of Alexei Balabanov’s “Of Monsters and Men” and Konstantin Bronzit’s “The God”.

We should draw special attention to such Waintrop’s discoveries as “Much Loved” by the Moroccan Nabil Ayouch or “Embrace of the Serpent” by the Columbian Ciro Guerra. 2018 is the last year for Waintrop as the head of the Quinzaine. Let’s wait for his coming program and then we shall see what the new head of the program Paolo Moretti will offer in 2019. 50 years is not yet the threshold, but merely a pause at the threshold symbolizing a new beginning.

Kirill Razlogov