Dominique Besnehard: “In terms of creation, French cinema remains in good health”
The cross :What conclusions do you draw from the period which has just passed for French cinema?
Dominique besnehard : He suffered, that’s undeniable, but not so much in terms of creation. There have been some great films again this year. The proof is that we even struggled to retain only ten films in competition this year as the offer was so rich and promising. To the point that we decided to create a section called “new looks” to accommodate younger films, perhaps less successful in terms of production but which had seduced us. On the other hand, the diffusion of films, it was more complicated it is true, because of the closing of the rooms then of the establishment of the sanitary pass which created mistrust.
Is the drop in attendance recorded this summer a source of concern for the future of theatrical cinema?
DB: The big victim is above all the auteur cinema. Because if you look closely, popular big movies like OSS 117, KaamelottWhere North Bacare doing pretty well, even though they may have made fewer entries than their distributors hoped. It was complicated for smaller budget productions. We saw it clearly with the beautiful films that were in competition last year.
As they could not go out in the wake of the Festival with the exception ofAntoinette in the Cévennes, they found themselves in theaters several months later as Ibrahim by Samir Guesmi. Despite his four awards at Angoulême, he did not get the score he would have deserved. As to Triumph, by Emmanuel Courcol, it will not be released until next week! But I do not believe that this reflects a disaffection with the cinema hall. The public is present, we can feel it this year. There is a desire to turn the page of this period and return to the cinema.
What do the films in competition reveal this year?
DB : Very strong films emerge from this period of confinement. The competition, which rather promotes young cinema, also shows a great diversity of genres. It goes from Black Box by Yann Gozlan, a breathtaking and very effective thriller about an air crash with Pierre Niney at They are alive, the first film by Jérémie Elkaïm, a social drama in which a resident of Calais will see her convictions shaken by welcoming a migrant, through the upsetting Small type by Samuel Theis about an 11 year old boy who falls in love with his teacher.
On the French-speaking side, we will also welcome films well in touch with the social reality of their country such as The night of kings, by Franco-Ivorian Philippe Lacôte which takes place in the largest prison in Abidjan or A revision by Quebecer Catherine Therrien in which a young Muslim student disputes her teacher’s note about the interpretation of a text from the Koran.
But what strikes me is the trend observed for several years for actors to go behind the camera. In addition to Jérémie Elkaïm, the Festival will host the premieres of films by Sandrine Kiberlain, Pascal Elbé, Clovis Cornillac, Valérie Lemercier and Laurent Lafitte. It is a real phenomenon.
Author cinema seems to be making a greater place in the programming with the films of Jacques Doillon and Jacques Audiard. Is it a will on your part?
DB: I like films that have substance and style, it’s no mystery, even if not all auteur cinemas could be found here. The lineup is a balance between major popular films like Mystery by Denis Imbert who will appeal to young audiences or Eiffel by Martin Bourboulon who opened Tuesday evening and more specialized films.
Jacques Doillon, I owe him everything. It is thanks to him that I made cinema. I love it when it deals with childhood. His latest film CE2 takes place in a playground and features a little girl being harassed by a young boy. The film will also be the subject of a screening followed by a debate on the theme of childhood in danger in which Brigitte Macron will participate.