Nadia Paschetto • Director, Arras Film Festival
"Viewers have a dormant passion for European films"
by Fabien Lemercier
- We met up with Nadia Paschetto, director of the Arras Film Festival, the 19th edition of which runs from 2 to 11 November
Nadia Paschetto, who runs the Arras Film Festival – which kicks off today (read the article and news) – along with general delegate Eric Miot, discusses the event's editorial line and analyses the European film distribution situation in France.
Cineuropa: How do you choose the titles for your European competition?
Nadia Paschetto: First of all, we primarily focus on Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. Secondly, we make sure that films in competition for the Golden Atlas haven’t yet been released in France. And finally, we take artistic style into account. This year, we have films from Hungary, Russia, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic in selection, but this overrepresentation of Eastern Europe is purely circumstantial. Put simply, we enjoyed the films in selection this year due to their subject matter and style. We are also interested in mise-en-scene and acting performances. It's also very important to us that these films address the audience, that they reach people, interest them and help them to discover things.
Arras Film Festival offers a very broad overview (via the competition, Découvertes européennes and Visions de l’Est sections) of films that are currently not well distributed in France.
Unfortunately, there are fewer European films coming out in France and numbers have continued to drop over the last few years. We are looking for films that might interest distributors and that please viewers. Festival cinemas are always full, which demonstrates that viewers have a dormant passion for European cinema. It is unfortunate that this craze is limited to festivals as a wider audience has no way to watch these films on general release in cinemas. I know that it’s not exactly clear-cut, because the distribution economy is getting increasingly complex, but if we don't continue to do the work we’re doing, these films won't get seen in France. These days, festivals offer viewers films in a variety of different styles, which for numerous reasons – often financial – end up directly on platforms.
What do you think about the argument that platforms can provide films that can’t get a release in cinemas with a very large potential audience?
I am very divided. I have a strong attachment to cinemas, where films can take on their full dimension and magnitude, and where they can be enjoyed with others. But if no one goes to see films that are the result of numerous years of work and commitment, it's completely ridiculous. If we’ve still not managed to get these films out in cinemas after a certain period of time, platforms have a role to play and it's better that these films are seen that not at all. But I think we should respect chronology by first seeing if we can get these films shown in cinemas. I am not at all against films being watched on VoD or SvoD, but we should still try to preserve the idea that the first screen should be a cinema screen.
Are the numerous French previews in the programme a good way for viewers to discover films from the rest of Europe?
We have a festival-goer, movie-goer audience that only goes to see European films, is really curious about what's happening in other countries and loves exploring other cultures. But this audience isn’t going too far in terms of premieres. We offer premieres for a wider audience via French film gala evening screenings accompanied by crew members. These viewers can come to watch a film they’ve heard about, or to see a certain actress or actor. But often, viewers come to watch a film or two during the week and then go on to discover the festival atmosphere, getting caught up in the excitement and finding themselves watching several films the following year. We wanted the programme to be eclectic and to appeal to all tastes and ages, to make sure that people who are less avid cinema-goers – who are just a bit curious and come to watch one film – realise that there are so many other films that might interest them, leading them to come back. People are given a taste for cinema, become curious and then take steps towards watching less popular film after initially watching more mainstream films.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.