Anaïs Emery • Artistic director, NIFFF
"Fantasy is becoming a more attractive genre thanks to generational changes"
by Muriel Del Don
- We interviewed Anaïs Emery, the charismatic artistic director of Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF), due to take place from 6 to 14 July
Anaïs Emery – artistic director (since 2005) and co-founder of Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) – chatted passionately to Cineuropa about the festival’s highlights, as well as her point of view on the future of a constantly evolving genre.
Cineuropa: Could you tell us about this year's edition of NIFFF – what are some of the highlights?
Anaïs Emery: Well the eighteenth edition of the festival is particularly strong this year thanks to the guests due to attend. David Cronenberg will be part of the jury, which is already an important event in itself. He is an impressive director and a key player in the history of cinema. He will be judging the 16 films at Neuchâtel (international competition) considered to be the crème de la crème of the international fantasy cinema scene. Another important individual representing the creative force of contemporary cinema is Timur Bekmambetov, who will be presenting Profile at NIFF – the winner of the audience award at Berlin (Panorama section) this year. And let's not forget the What We Do In New Zealand retrospective, which will be screening films by avant-garde directors interested in the creation of digital universes and immersive media.
Where does your passion for the fantasy genre come from? What has your experience been like as a female director of a fantasy film festival, a genre that is all too often considered "masculine"?
I love cinema in general, regardless of genre. I don’t think the fantasy genre is superior or more interesting than any other genre. I view cinema as the sum of its parts. And that’s the reason why I tried to create a coherent path that links the various films together in this year's programme. I wanted to highlight how the fantasy genre interacts with other genres. Of course, there are various signifiers and codes to the genre, but these days, if you look at film production in general, you notice that the lines are blurred, and the barriers have fallen somewhat. Which is why we took a risk and created this festival. And history has proved us right. You have to admit that things have totally changed over the last eighteen years. These days, the concept of "genre" is embraced by great directors and documentary filmmakers alike. The fantasy genre has totally regenerated from the point of view of form and signifiers, thus demonstrating its amazing capacity to evolve and adapt. Personally, I love fantasy films due to their penchant for imagination and their "subversive" side.
In terms of being a female director, it's obviously not easy. Just being a woman with a career is not always easy to establish. When I first started out, I was a pioneer in the world of fantasy cinema, but also as a female festival director. I was able to survive thanks to passion and determination. I think women should have more decision-making powers. They should generally be better represented in film and art schools, too.
What do you think about the success of Blue My Mind [+see also:
interview: Lisa Brühlmann
interview: Luna Wedler
film profile] by Lisa Brühlmann – winner of the Swiss Film Prize? What do you think about genre cinema in Switzerland, especially in terms of young filmmakers?
When Blue My Mind won the Quartz for Best Swiss Film I was very happy, because it was the first fantasy film, and the first film directed by a woman, to win it. At this point in time, fantasy film production in Switzerland has more of a focus on classical fiction, drama and documentary. Fantasy is becoming a more attractive genre thanks to generational changes. Young directors are not put off by fantasy stereotypes. These days, a director can shoot a fantasy film and then move onto another genre without being labelled a "horror" director. The digital revolution was also fundamental, making it possible to shoot films with fairly high aesthetic ambitions despite an often-limited budget. There is an increasing number of Swiss productions related to the fantasy genre, even if they are not dominant. A limiting factor is the fact that it takes a long time to make a film in Switzerland. In order to allow a new industry to emerge, we need to work on producers’ skills (financing films with special effects...), writing effective screenplays, complex characters, etc. My hope is that the system will speed up and that we can work and develop these skills. There are already some out there, but we need to implement them and develop them. Personally, I think that excellence is the result of hard work and experimentation. In the Amazing Switzerland section, we have selected some excellent quality Swiss films with original imagery. All of this is motivating. The directors have managed to break the stereotypes and create something new and catchy.
(Translated from Italian)
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