Nadia Paschetto • Director, Arras Film Festival
"We decided to position ourselves differently to other festivals"
- We met with Nadia Paschetto, the director of the Arras Film Festival whose 20th edition is unspooling 8 -17 November
Having founded the Arras Film Festival alongside Delegate General Eric Miot, with its 20th edition kicking off today (read our article), Nadia Paschetto discusses the editorial line of the European competition, the film climate in Central and Eastern Europe, the place occupied by women and the philosophy behind Arras Days.
Cineuropa: Looking back over twenty editions of the Arras Film Festival, what is your proudest achievement to date?
Nadia Paschetto: What I am happiest about is our European competition. It involves real investigative work into new films which haven’t yet been seen by anyone and which are yet to be distributed in France. This year, we’re especially happy to have one world premiere (Negative Numbers [+see also:
interview: Uta Beria
film profile] by Uta Beria) and two international premieres (Free Country [+see also:
film profile] by Christian Alvart and The Iron Bridge [+see also:
interview: Monika Jordan-Mlodzianowska
film profile] by Monika Jordan-Mlodzianowska) amongst the nine feature films - as yet unseen in France - that are in the running for the 2019 Golden Atlas. When we first set this competition up ten years ago, we didn’t do so just to create another competition: we decided to position ourselves differently to other festivals. A competition showing films which had previously been presented in Cannes or elsewhere wasn’t of interest to us. Our editorial line is to research new authors who aren’t that well known outside of their countries, and to shine a light on them. We also wanted to help these films make it into French cinemas, and that’s why we created two distribution assistance awards.
You have a predilection for films from Eastern Europe. How would you describe the situation vis-à-vis production in these countries?
There are some real authors and talented young filmmakers out there who deserve to be more well-known. But in Central and Eastern Europe, international co-productions are almost unavoidable because it’s difficult to get a budget together in just one country. So, we have professionals who create networks, who can cross borders with ease and who offer up subjects of a very European nature, because they have a far wider vision than their counterparts in other countries, such as in France, for example, where 100% national films can be produced quite easily. Nevertheless, some territories in Central and Eastern Europe have managed to organise themselves, even if there are sometimes problems linked to the political choices made in cultural domains. And there are also waves in filmmaking, which arise depending on the country and the rates of production, such as the explosion in Croatian cinema a few years ago, which has now slowed down somewhat.
And the situation vis-à-vis female directors at Arras?
Talented female directors are emerging all over Europe, which is the logical consequence of access to film schools opening up fully to women everywhere. Georgia, for example, now boasts a formidable generation of female filmmakers. Even if, in Arras, we’ve never claimed to shine a light on female cinema, 22 films in our 2019 selection have been made by women, our guest of honour is Nicole Garcia and the festival is being opened by a film by a woman (Valérie Donzelli’s Notre Dame [+see also:
film profile]). That said, we don’t work with any kind of quota; we refuse to do so. What we look for, first and foremost, is talent and films that we like. Then we look at who directed them.
What is the philosophy behind the Arras Days pitches (read our news on the projects involved) and your Development Aid Grants?
Accompanying these authors [on their journey]. When we identify a project such as The Father [+see also:
interview: GoCritic! Interview: Kristi…
interview: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Val…
film profile] by the Bulgarian directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, which won the main grant at Arras Days 2016, and when this same film wins the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary, as happened this year, it’s highly satisfying. It means that, on the one hand, our intuition was right and that, on the other, we gave it a nudge in the right direction at a crucial stage, because this grant comes at a time when filmmakers are in a no-man’s land, and it allows them to go looking for other subsidies and to continue developing their project. When they win international awards, we feel like we’ve played a part in their success. There’s nothing we like more than helping these authors to evolve, discovering their next films, and, if certain authors escape us it’s no bad thing, because it means they’re climbing higher and going further.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.