News in brief
26 May 2020 à 18:47
"Keeping in Touch": Rosalie Varda talks with Aline Arlettaz (Italy)
In this collection of interviews "Keeping in Touch," French filmmakers and actors currently in lockdown due to COVID-19 answer the questions of international journalists for whom French cinema remains a far-reaching voice and vision.
For this latest long-distance interview, UniFrance put producer Rosalie Varda in touch with the Italian journalist Aline Arlettaz (Vanity Fair).
Aline Arlettaz: When the government announced the lockdown, what was on your schedule?
Rosalie Varda: When lockdown was announced, I was supposed to embark on a series of trips to Spain, Israel, and Italy to present films by Agnès, accompany the release of Varda by Agnès, and attend the opening of the Les veuves de Noirmoutier exhibition organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain which was to be presented at the Triennale Milano. I love accompanying films and presenting them to audiences who are often young and film enthusiasts...
What are your plans today?
With theaters closed, all retrospectives and film screenings are cancelled. Some distributors who were to release films theatrically in France have made agreements with platforms or for advanced DVD releases. Each producer and/or distributor is trying to find the best solutions! We are all still in shock from these two months of lockdown. Cultural structures and institutions are looking for ways to get their programs back on track and for how these programs will actually be carried out. There are already announcements, but the whole film industry and its technicians have been heavily impacted.
What about cinema specificially?
Some of the films that were due to be released have benefited from CNC exemptions allowing them to be shown directly on platforms. And then there are films that, in the middle of all this, will not find their audience either on platforms or in theaters since the latter are closed. What is going to happen with these films, "smaller" titles in general?
What do you think of the role of platforms?
Platforms are very good. But streaming won't solve the whole situation and they're not theaters. It's not a question of one or the other – it's both! Films are now seen on multiple "screens"... When cinemas reopen, there may be traffic jams. But we should also acknowledge how difficult it may be for people to return to theaters in less than happy conditions. Chains are in the process of organizing reopening cinemas adhering to social distancing and health guidelines. All this means that theaters will be affected until at least the end of the year.
How do you feel about what was done for cinema during the lockdown?
There are negatives and positives. I think it's a shame that France Télévisions didn't take advantage of the rare moment when people were in lockdown with their families to offer more interesting programs focusing on cinema. The new afternoon slot allows for this ... And why not more films in the evening? Because there are, after all, still plenty of films that could appeal to the whole family. I think this is where platforms were really quick to bounce back and seize this opportunity. I think it's a shame that France Télévisions waited until the lockdown started easing off to offer us classic films. France Télévisions could have completely turned its schedules upside down by giving us a lot of auteur cinema without having to present well-known films that are already multi-broadcast. It was a rather extraordinary opportunity for the public service to propose works that weren't necessarily mainstream but which were rightly marked by a concern for excellence, dare I say, and which showed the diversity of the cinema. In the end, platforms got the upper hand.
Why do you say that?
Within a fortnight, some were capable of setting up platforms with free content, be it La Cinémathèque Française or MK2 with Trois Couleurs and the weekly Curiosity program, and many others. Others also emerged: short film associations, platforms dedicated to documentaries. And then there were those that were already established who immediately put together great programming: the Forum des images, regional cinematheques, the INA with the brilliant Madelen, LaCinetek, MUBI, Tënk, Universciné, Films & Documentaires.com, without forgetting Canal + ARTE and OCS, and others I can't remember. There have been a great many proposals reflecting the diversity of cinema, both pay-per-view and for free. I admire all the work that has been done and I think that this period has shown above all the human capacity to be able to put intelligent and diverse selections online very quickly! And that is rather encouraging!
Any other reasons for satisfaction?
Yes, there has been all this personal diversity established by a large number of artists who read something every day: Josiane Balasko reading tales, Fabrice Luchini reading a fable by La Fontaine, yoga classes, and fit comics who talk to us and share funny moments! And then there are anonymous Internet users who used their humor to make us smile. Oh la la, Julie Mamou-Mani's account on Instagram, what a delight! It still means that there is a little hope and that culture can be transmitted digitally. Because that's the question: can we transmit culture through digital means and can we live with the digital world?
Today you should have been in Cannes, shouldn't you?
Yes... I've been feeling a twinge of sorrow over the last few days. Today's Monday. Right now I'd be running around installing furniture in all the festival venues in the Palais des Festivals. I'd be taking care of the florists, checking with chef Bruno Oger that everything is in place for the opening night dinner at the Agora. We would have been one day out before the opening of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival – the 73rd festival with all the teams on site and with this thing where no one talks too much because we're all a bit overwhelmed and we know that tomorrow the liner will cast off from the port and the Cannes Film Festival will set sail for twelve days on the high seas with red carpets, press conferences, and, above all, the screenings in this marvelous Salle Lumière. At the same time, these two months of lockdown have made us accept this foreseeable situation, that of the cancellation of the festival. I'm thinking above all of all the producers, international sales agents, distributors, and film professionals from all over the world who are delighted to show their works in Cannes, and for whom it's vital to participate in the biggest festival in the world! But it's only a postponement, because cinema will continue to make us dream and will continue to relay emotions to us.
Latest update : 26 May 2020 à 18:47 CEST