Christophe Leparc • Director, Cinemed
"Cinemed’s editorial line has to include socially engaged cinema"
- We met with Christophe Leparc, the director of the Cinemed - Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, whose 41st edition is running 18-27 October
Having headed up Cinemed, the Montpeller Mediterranean Film Festival for the past five years, Christophe Leparc (also the Secretary General of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight since 2008) talks about the 41st edition of the event, which kicked off on Friday (read our article).
Cineuropa: Films hailing from the southern Mediterranean region seem to be experiencing a boom; they’re headlining the big festivals and many of them are in competition in Cinemed this year. How do you explain this trend?
Christophe Leparc: It’s the combined result of two factors: firstly, the profound change which took place in film distribution in the 80s and 90s, where we saw companies take the plunge into auteur cinema because they realised there was a profit to be made by commercially releasing these types of films, whose circulation could then extend beyond the festivals where they were initially presented. Secondly, the emergence of talent has been aided by the work carried out by festivals, such as Montpellier. We’ve been offering a development grant for 25 years now, the idea being to place authors - having ideas for films and hailing from all over the Mediterranean - opposite professionals who can help them to showcase their talent on the international market and, therefore, to fine-tune projects which are then more likely to be noticed by the big festivals.
For example, A Son [+see also:
interview: Mehdi M Barsaoui and Sami B…
film profile] by the Tunisian Mehdi M. Barsaoui, which had its world premiere in Venice where it won the Best Actor award in the Orizzonti section, had previously been awarded this grant, and it was on this occasion that the Tunisian and French producers first met. The film is now having its French premiere in competition in Montpellier and we’ve very proud of it, because we carry out a lot of groundwork: firstly, following authors who have made short films, and then directing them towards our "Du court au long" programme, and then finally directing them towards our Grant facility. All these platforms, from Cinemed through to the TorinoFilmLab, are there to help authors complete their first feature film; then we move into another gear, working with producers who are attached to the projects and who will be looking for sales agents and distributers, and a co-production system offering specific forms of support (such as the CNC’s Aide aux Cinémas du Monde Fund) which will ultimately help these films see the light of day.
This has allowed for the emergence of many talented individuals and it’s true that the southern Mediterranean is currently experiencing a boom. When we organised a Focus on young Tunisian cinema three years ago, we couldn’t help but notice a real rise in talented individuals looking to co-produce with Europe, but we also detected a desire to develop films internally, within the country itself. Tunisia is more or less a textbook example, because the emergence of a film industry can only happen if there is a political desire to open up and if there’s an appetite for it amongst local audiences. But it’s not always easy, as proven by the recent difficulties Mounia Meddour’s Papicha [+see also:
interview: Mounia Meddour
film profile] encountered - despite the support it received from the Algerian authorities and the fact that it’s the country’s Oscar candidate - when they tried to get it screened in Algerian cinemas.
Leoluca Orlando, the Mayor of Palermo, is the new president of your festival, and this year’s edition will be opened by Costa-Gavras’ Adults in the Room [+see also:
film profile]: is social engagement a key feature of Cinemed?
In terms of the programming, the arrival of this socially engaged president is the result of a combination of circumstances, but it’s no coincidence. Cinemed has always given a voice to committed filmmakers, because they want to talk about what’s happening in their countries, as has happened in Algerian cinema, with Abou Leila [+see also:
film profile] by Amin Sidi-Boumediène this year, and Blessed [+see also:
film profile] by Sofia Djama in 2017. But this can also be expressed through comedy, as with last year’s Tel Aviv on Fire [+see also:
interview: Sameh Zoabi
film profile] by the Israeli-Palestinian Sameh Zoabi. Cinemed’s editorial line has to include socially engaged cinema because the reality of the Mediterranean world isn’t always rosy, as shown this year in Nour, for example, by Italy’s Maurizio Zaccaro, which speaks of the situation the migrants are living in in Lampedusa. And Adults in the Room, a brilliant thriller on the Greek financial crisis is, very symbolically, a prime example of this spirit of engagement, which likewise manifests itself in the films of our guest of honour André Téchiné (for example, in Wild Reeds, which speaks of the Algerian War), in the work of director Paolo Virzì as he picks apart his country and, more specifically, unbridled capitalism, by modernising the legacy of great Italian comedy cinema, but also in the action of producer Mohamed Hefzy who’s shaking up a somewhat sleepy Egyptian film industry by helping young and talented individuals get a foot in the door.
(Translated from French)
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