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A good year for French film, says Cannes chief Frémaux

P. Quaisse

British-born actress Kristin Scott-Thomas – now resident in Paris – hosts the 63rd Cannes Film Festival which opens on Wednesday night. And the movie chosen to launch the next two film-filled weeks is about Britain’s best-loved outlaw, Robin Hood.

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The director of this piece of feel-good banditry, Ridley Scott, is not in town due to a knee injury. But stars Russell Crowe, who plays Robin, and Cate Blanchett, who plays Maid Marian, should be there to take the applause it will undoubtedly receive.

Thierry Frémaux, general director of the festival, likes to get things going with a mainstream feature. “It’s tradition,” he says.

Tradition. That’s important for the Cannes Festival.

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“We want to support old filmmakers too,” Frémaux insists.

Not that 73-year-old Scott is that old. Filmmakers are eternal. At least some are.

Frémaux considers that it’s not a director’s age that’s important in the creative process of cinema. And it doesn’t matter in the Cannes competition, either.

“My dream is not to have any credits in the films,” so that the audience judges by quality not by names, he says.

Cannes is of course an international festival, but Frémaux doesn’t like to categorise or label the films selected.

Take for example how he describes the selection of a film by a director from Chad, Mahmet-Saleh Haroun.

“I don’t want to make any difference because he comes from Africa. He is a filmmaker amongst others. His film is very good. It’s also part of our mission to put new names on the map, and I hope that either he or Sergei Loznitsa who is from Ukraine, who is totally new, will impress as we’ve been impressed.”

In the main competition, there are, however, three films which happen to be French - Tournée directed by Mathieu Almaric, La Princesse de Montpensier by Bertrand Tavernier and Des hommes et des dieux by Xavier Beauvois.

That is rare, it seems.

“French cinema this year is very good,” Frémaux declares. “In the past we used to have lots of films from the US in competition. This year there is only one ... It’s film by film that we make the selection.”

 

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