Twenty-three years after its creation, does the Rendez-Vous still have a special place in the annual calendar of the Film Society of Lincoln Center ?
Yes, it's one our most important events during the year: the public always attends, and especially this year, the level of reservations is very high. The advantage of French cinema is that there's a high rate of production, covering a wide spectrum ranging from ultra-independent cinema to purely commercial films. We show many French productions during other events that take place here, such as New Directors New Films, or the New York Film Festival (NYFF), but we always have the possibility of presenting a strong line-up of premieres at the Rendez-Vous.
Does the 2018 selection faithfully represent French cinema as you see it?
We try always to find a good balance in our selection, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it represents French film production as a whole. I hope, for my part, that the Rendez-Vous provides the opportunity to encounter diverse trends and talents, between established and emerging filmmakers, or newcomers and less known filmmakers. We never really try to show general themes, even though over the past few years, we feel that the French cinema which has interested us has been politically engaged, and dealt more with social realities. This year is notable for a strong presence of historical films, such as The Guardians, The Sower, See You Up There, and Memoir of War, all of which avoid, in their own way, the pitfalls of reconstruction. I think also of the eccentricity of a Eugène Green, who shatters many of the codes of costume dramas with Waiting for the Barbarians.
In your opinion, what are people who attend the Rendez-Vous looking for?
For me, the ideal audience is one that comes without expectations. Obviously, we always have some expectations when we go to the movies, but one of the great pleasures for the cinephile is to be surprised. And I like to think that we can be very surprised by a filmmaker we know, or by a genre that we think we've figured out. The New York audiences who come to see foreign films are open and adventurous, which is a good thing because many of the films in the 2018 selection challenge, in my opinion, expectations. I think, for example, of Jeannette: the Childhood of Joan of Arc by Bruno Dumont, which I am certain doesn't resemble any other film people would have been exposed to before... I am also thinking of Barbara, which opened the festival. If you read the film's outline, you could think it's a biopic, but it's a far more complex film, which offers many layers of interpretation about "representation," be it historical or theatrical, while still remaining very accessible. Welcoming Mathieu Amalric, who is a familiar face, and presenting his film in the opening night slot allows us to take a position, to set the selection's general tone. To say to our audiences: "The films that you're going to see are not necessarily those that you think."