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LES ARCS 2018

Frédéric Boyer • Artistic director, Les Arcs Film Festival

"Things change, as does distribution, and you have to evolve"

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- Frédéric Boyer, Les Arcs Film Festival selector (10th edition, 15 to 22 December), talks about the festival’s Work in Progress event

Frédéric Boyer  • Artistic director, Les Arcs Film Festival

We met up with artistic director, Frédéric Boyer (also artistic director at Tribeca), on the eve of the 10th Les Arcs Film Festival (15 to 22 December) to discuss the Work in Progress event (article), festival programme (news), and his view on European auteur cinema distribution trends.

Cineuropa: The Les Arcs Work in Progress event regularly sees its selected films go on to participate at some of the biggest film festivals, as was the case last year with Girl [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Lukas Dhont
film profile
]
, which went on to win the Caméra d'Or at Cannes, as well as Diamantino [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Sc…
film profile
]
,
Chris the Swiss [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Anja Kofmel
film profile
]
, etc. Do you bear that in mind when selecting films?
It's vital that our films are shown at major festivals, which is why I always try to make sure they’re actual works in progress, so much so that several titles in the 2018 selection are still being filmed, such as And Then We Danced by the Swedish director Levan Akin. Aside from quality, I’m not at all interested in showcasing finished films. We want world premieres and we’re fortunate enough to be well positioned in the calendar year, just when major festivals are beginning to decide on their upcoming selections. But international sellers are often already on the lookout for the titles we select, many of which have participated in co-production markets, won scholarships, and so on. If two or three films are leaving Les Arcs – such as Girl last year – with a good buzz and decent press, it’s obviously a good idea for sales agents to get involved. They then have options for Cannes, Locarno, etc. with movies that are not particularly expensive (which is not the case for all films). As a result, we really stand firm, because that's where you find value: the films we show at Les Arcs need to be as fresh as possible, because the business deals get under way here at Les Arcs, and not beforehand.

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What about the news that you've added three titles out of competition as they already have sales agents attached?
This might actually mark the beginning of a route we can go down in the future: screening films by directors we love and showcasing vendors in order to emphasise the importance of their relationship with films and directors. Grímur Hákonarson – who will be unveiling shots from The County – attended the Les Arcs Village des Coproductions and then the Work in Progress event with his first feature, Rams [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Grimur Hakonarson
film profile
]
. Flanders Image will be showcasing Patrick by Tom Mielants and Rain Anyway by Gust Van den Berghe, with some totally new shots following their participation at Ghent, where I first discovered and enjoyed both films.

What is your opinion on European auteur films distribution trends and the rise of platforms?
Obviously, we’re always going to fight for movie theatres. The theatre is the ultimate goal and it’s every director’s dream. But reality is what it is… This year’s festival competition includes two films, Mug [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Małgorzata Szumowska
film profile
]
and L’Animale [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Katharina Mückstein
film profile
]
, both of which come under the E-cinema banner and ArteKino Festival will be presenting an award at the Coproduction Village. Things change, as does distribution, and you have to evolve. But that's also why Work in Progress events, such as ours, can still contribute something positive. Because although many European auteur films find it difficult to find theatrical distributors, due to a certain prudence when it comes to theatrical release fees, being selected for the Work in Progress event gives them a real chance to generate interest. Finally, and more generally, the cinema movement has been alive and kicking for over a century, and although we’re currently experiencing a moment of change, that's not to say it's all over. There is still a crazy amount of energy around the medium, as well as very active national cinema centres, and new sources of funding, such as the Onassis Foundation, which is producing Birds by Babis Makridis, and which we will be presenting at the Work in Progress event. There may be more sponsorships in the future, but that doesn’t change the essential energy of those who want to make films. Aiming for a theatrical release is great, but then, we'll see what happens... Sales agents are sometimes too cautious, and too quick to judge films as being too dark or too small, often looking for titles that are a little more digestible and consensual. Take Woman at War [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Benedikt Erlingsson
interview: Benedikt Erlingsson
film profile
]
, for example, a film that’s been sold around the world and finds its audience wherever it is distributed, evidence that it is still possible to distribute films using the traditional model and not necessarily on a platform.

(Translated from French)

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